"With God and Jesus Christ excluded from political life,with authority derived not from God but from man,the very basis of that authority has been taken away,because the chief reason of the distinction between ruler and subject has been eliminated.The result is that human society is tottering to its fall, because it has no longer a secure and solid foundation." (Pope Pius XI in Quas Primas, December 11, 1925)
The Dogma of Hell is the most terrible truth of our faith. There is a hell. We are sure of it as of the existence of God, the existence of the sun. Nothing, in fact, is more clearly revealed than the dogma of hell, and Jesus Christ proclaims it as many as fifteen times in the Gospel.
Reason comes to the support of revelation; the existence of a hell is in harmony with the immutable notions of justice engraved in the human heart. Revealed to men from the beginning, and conformable to natural reason, this dreadful truth has always been, and is still known, by all nations not plunged by barbarism in complete ignorance.
Hell never has been denied by heretics, Jews or Mohammedan. The pagans themselves have retained their belief in it, although the errors of paganism may have impaired in their minds the sound notion.
It has been reserved for modern and contemporaneous atheism, carried to the pitch of delirium, to outdo the impiety of all ages by denying the existence of hell.
VI. TRUTH OF HELL
This is how the Son of God speaks to us of hell:
"Woe to the world because of scandals; for it must needs be that scandals come; nevertheless, woe to that man by whom scandal cometh!"
"If, then, thy hand or thy foot scandalize thee, cut it off and cast it from thee; it is better for thee to go into life maimed or lame, than, having two hands or two feet, be cast into everlasting fire."
"And if thy eye scandalize thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee; it is better for thee, having one eye, to enter into life, than, having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire." (Matt. xviii, 7; compare v., 29)
"And fear ye not them that kill the body, and are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear him that can destroy both soul and body into hell." (Matt. x. 28)
"Then the Judge will say to them that shall be on his left hand: Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, which was prepared for the devil and his angels." (Matt xxv., 41)
"But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into the exterior darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matt. viii., 11)
"The unprofitable servant cast ye out into the exterior darkness: there shall be weeping, and gnashing of teeth." (Matt xxv., 30)
"But I say to you: Whosoever is angry with his brother shall be in danger of the judgment, and whosoever shall say to his brother, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire." (Matt. v., 22)
"The Son of Man shall send His angels, and they shall gather out of His Kingdom all scandals and them that work iniquity;
"And shall cast them into the furnace of fire; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matt. xiii., 41)
"Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit, shall be cut down and shall be cast into the fire." (Matt. XII., 19)
"If any one abide not in Me, he shall be cast forth as a branch, and shall wither, and they shall gather him up, and cast him into the fire, and he burneth." (John xv., 5)
"The beast and the false prophet who had seduced them who had received the character of the beast, and who had admired his image, were cast alive into the pool of fire burning with brimstone." (Apoc., xix., 20.)
"Where they were tormented day and night, for ever and ever.
"And whosoever was not found written in the book of life, was cast into the pool of fire." (Apoc. xx., 15)
To doubt about hell, is to doubt the infallible word of God; it is to give ear to the speech of the libertines rather than to the infallible teaching of the Church. The Church teaches that there is a hell; a libertine tells you that there is not; and should you prefer to believe a libertine?
VII. THE PAINS OF HELL
What predominates in the words of Scripture when it exhibits to us the pains of Hell is the terrible torture of the fire. The Scriptures call Hell a "pool of sulphur and fire," the gehenna of fire," the eternal fire," a "fiery furnace where the fire shall never be extinguished." But this fire, kindled by divine justice, will possess an activity incomparably superior to that of all the furnaces, all the fires, of this world. Alas! Do we understand how it shall be possible to bear it? How it will be necessary to dwell in it as in an everlasting habitation? "Which of you," demands the Prophet, "can dwell with devouring fire? Which of you shall bear everlasting burnings?" (Isaias 33:14).
Chapter VIII. A SALUTARY FEAR OF HELL
We ought to believe in Hell, because we may fall into it. Alas! It is very easy to be damned, and the damned are very numerous. St. Teresa compares them to the flakes of snow which fall in the dreary days of winter. The servant of God, Anthony Pereyra, in a very authentic vision with which he was favoured (see Ch. 2), saw the souls of sinners descending into the pit like corn beneath the millstones, like stones cast in heaps into a huge limekiln. God showed one day before a large multitude that they fall into it as the dead leaves in autumn fall from the trees under the breath of the wind.
The venerable Father Anthony Baldinucci, a celebrated missionary of the Company of Jesus, who died in the odor of sanctity in the year 1717, was preaching in the open air, because the church could not contain the faithful who came in crowds to hear him. Speaking of Hell, he said, "My brethren, would you know how great is the number of those who are damned? Look at that tree." All eyes were turned to a tree that was there, covered with leaves. At the same moment a gust of wind, rising, shook all the branches of the tree, and caused the leaves to fall so plentifully that there remained only a certain number of them, thinly scattered and easy to count. "See," went on the man of God, "what souls are lost, and what souls are saved. Take your precautions to be among the latter."