As Our Lady spoke, she opened her lovely hands, disclosing beneath a sea of fire; and plunged in this fire were the demons and the souls, as if they were red-hot coals, transparent and black or bronze colored; with human forms, which floated about in the conflagration, borne by the flames which issued from it with great clouds of smoke, falling on all sides as sparks fall in great conflagrations -- without weight or equilibrium, among shrieks and groans of sorrow and despair which horrify and cause to shudder with fear.
The devils were distinguished by horrible and loathsome forms of animals frightful and unknown, but transparent like black coals that have turned red-hot.
"Here you see Hell, where the souls of poor sinners go," she said at length. "To save them God wishes to establish in the world the devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If they do what I will tell you, many souls will be saved, and there will be peace.
For many years now, the Modernists have been busy suppressing the doctrine of Hell and eternal punishment. Despite Our Lady's warnings at Fatima, they have succeeded, for the most part, in convincing lax Catholics that they "mustn't frighten the children by talking about Hell". Now the Modernist notion that Hell is merely a bad state of soul is quite common.Obviously the words and actions of the Mother of God do not fall in with the Modernist ideal, for she, who is the Seat of Wisdom, not only talked about Hell to the three young shepherds, but actually showed them its inhabitants the demons and the damned. True, the children were frightened, and greatly so, but it was with that healthy fear which produced salutary effects in their souls -- amendment of life, zeal for the conversion of sinners, and detachment from worldly pleasures. It is of the utmost importance for us to produce these effects in our souls, by frequent and serious meditation upon the teachings of the Church and her theologians concerning the eternal punishment of the damned.
St. Alphonsus tells us that the Last Things ought to be among the principal subjects of our meditations: "He who often meditates on the four last things -- namely, death, judgement, and the eternity of Hell and Paradise, will not fall into sin. But these truths are not seen with the eye of the body, the soul only perceives them. If they are not meditated on, they vanish from the mind; and then the pleasures of the senses present themselves, and those who do not keep before themselves the eternal truths are easily taken up by them; and this is the reason why so many abandon themselves to vice, and are damned."
Let us consider first the pain of sense. Theologians tell us that all the senses and powers of the damned shall have their appropriate torment; and the more a person has offended God in any particular sense, so much the more shall he be tormented in that sense: "By what things a man sinneth, by the same also he is tormented" (Wisdom 11:17). St. Basil explains that the sight will be tormented by darkness: "The Lord will divide the fire from the light, so that this fire will only perform the office of burning, and not of giving light." St. Thomas says that there will only be sufficient light allowed to to the damned to torment them the more: "Just sufficient to see those things which can torment them."
As for smell, St. Bonaventure says that if the body of one of the damned were driven from Hell, the stench would be enough to destroy all men. And yet some fools say: "If I go to Hell, I shall not be alone." Miserable beings! the more there are in Hell, the more they suffer.
The hearing shall be tormented by the continual howling and wailing of those despairing wretches. The appetite shall be tormented by hunger: "They shall suffer hunger as dogs" (Psalms 58:15): but never shall they taste even a crumb of bread. So great will be their thirst, that the water of the ocean would not suffice to quench it. The glutton asked for one single drop; but never yet has he obtained it, and never, never shall he have it.
Sacred Scripture repeatedly makes mention of the fires of Hell, which shall be the greatest of the pains of sense: "Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire" (Matthew 25:41). The fire of this world is created for our use; but the fire of Hell is created by God expressly to torment. St. Vincent Ferrer says that in comparison with it, our fire is cold. Moreover, the damned shall be sent into the fire; he will be in fire like a fish in water. His body will become all fire, so that the bowels within him will burn, his heart will burn in his bosom, his brain in his head, his blood in his veins, even the marrow in his bones: "Thou shalt make them as an oven of fire."
Abbot Marmion says, furthermore, that the lost soul is given over to the power of the demons. "In Hell, where the damned, abandoned by God, are given entirely into their power, into this exterior darkness, the devils have free play. They cast themselves upon their prey to plague them without respite, to inflict upon them indescribable evils."
But all these pains are as nothing in comparison with the pain of loss; the pain that makes Hell is the pain of having lost God. Abbot Marmion explains it: "The damned soul is torn by two forces: its nature tends, with irresistible passion, towards God, the last end for which it was created, and on the other side, its will, fixed in opposition, rejects God, blasphemes Him and finds its satisfaction in this aversion. Who can describe the torture of this despair?" And St. Thomas says: "The pain of the damned is infinite, because it is the loss of an infinite good."
On account of this eternal loss, the damned prey on themselves by remorse. Have we then, will they say, for such trifling, transitory, and poisonous gratifications, lost Heaven and God, and condemned ourselves to this prison of torments forever? St. Alphonsus tells us: "In many ways will conscience gnaw the heart of the reprobate; but the three most grievous things will be, to reflect upon the trifles for which they have lost their souls; the little they were required to do to be saved; and finally, the great good they have lost."
The eternity of Hell is of faith; it is not a simple opinion, but a truth attested to by God in so many places in Scripture: "And these shall go into everlasting punishment" (Matthew 25:46). "What madness would it be in a man", exclaims St. Alphonsus, "Who, in order to enjoy one day of amusement, should condemn himself to be shut up in a pit for twenty or thirty years! But it is not a question of thirty, of a hundred, of a thousand, nor of a hundred thousand years; it is a question of eternity, of suffering forever the same torments."
A devil who dwelt in one obsessed, being asked how long he would have to remain in Hell, replied, in a rage, beating his hand against a chair, "Forever, forever!" So great was the terror thus inspired, that many youths of the Roman Seminary, who were there present, made a general confession, and changed their lives at this great sermon of two words -- "forever, forever!" Another devil was asked, since when had he been in Hell, and he replied, "Yesterday -- yesterday!" They exclaimed, "Thou hast been damned for above five thousand years, and thou sayest yesterday!" Again he replied: "Oh, if you did but know what eternity means, you would well understand that five thousand years are, by comparison, not even a moment."
Blessed shall we be, if after these considerations we reap the fruits of zeal for souls, patience, contrition for our sins, amendment of life, and perseverance in the True Faith. St. Teresa tells us of her vision of Hell: "I am not afraid to repeat that this is one of the most exceptional graces that the Lord has granted to me. It has been of the utmost profit to me." We too, if we realize the terrors of Hell, shall profit and shall make use of the means of salvation.
St. Alphonsus exhorts us, "Pray, pray, never cease to pray; for if you pray, your salvation will be secure; but if you leave off praying, your damnation will be certain." And let it be far from us to ignore the plea of Our Blessed Mother Herself, at Fatima: "Pray -- pray very much. Make sacrifices for sinners. Many souls go to Hell because no one is willing to make sacrifices for them."Read more > > >