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On Entering Eternity


What can be our reaction to this pure light and presence of total goodness?  How uncomfortable, how fearful we must be.  As the divine judgment comes the sinner is already seeking a way to escape this terrifying perfection.  The sinner knows only too well he does not belong in that presence.  Here is all love, all goodness and all truth;  and before it we stand, too often sadly lacking in these perfections.  Before this true God of infinite perfection we stand totally exposed, naked in our own sad state.  Picture the terrible contrast;  the infinite and sublime in God on the one hand, and the foolish and the sinful in us on the other hand.  The light of such a terrible contrast cannot be endured.

There is only one recourse, and that, like Adam and Eve after their sin, is to flee, to seek a place where this glaring light of perfection is not found.  We have been created for God, for eternal union with Him, and can find only there the fulfillment of all our wishes, our desires and our needs.  He has been the true good behind all we always desired, yet He is so far above these, our earthly goods, that we do not fit in His company, we do not belong in His divine presence.


There are two hiding places where we may flee, where we will not have to endure the terrible presence of this absolute perfection.

Hell: - One of them is called hell, where the sinner will never have to endure this absolutely pure light.  There he will never have to face that perfect goodness of God which he finds so unbearable.  There also all hopes, desires and needs, all that man was created for will never be satisfied, but rather be totally and eternally frustrated.  This is for the sinner who has nothing of God's life in him, no sanctifying grace.  There will be terrible suffering of fire, not to purify for better things, for such a one does not ever belong with God, but to punish as is due forever and ever, with a fire that burns the soul, and will burn the body too.  There will be no escape, no way to change this terrible state.  There will be much company with others who hate the true good, those in heresy and error, those who promoted discord, the earthly, and those who did not truly love Him Who is infinitely lovable.

The company there will be with others who are the same as the sinner entering hell.  There will be disgust and horror without end.  The many vices that were practiced and sought after on earth will bring punishment of the same kind in hell, coming to the sinner (for he sought these as his 'god') until long after satisfaction is reached and then more yet and on without end to disgust and nausea. 

So each is given that which he chose here as his 'god', but only that, and not Him Who is the true God and Who only can fill all our needs and desires and bring true happiness.  The true Good will never be his, or happiness, or peace, or rest.  In fact all that man was made for will be lacking him.  No suicide so that one can end it all, will be possible, but there will be an overwhelming urge and constant desire to do so, to totally annihilate the very being given by the Creator, for in hell there is no hope - only despair and eternal fire!!!

Purgatory: - The other place to hide from this infinite divine goodness is Purgatory.  In so many ways it is like hell, having similar punishments of fire and frustration of all desires, etc., but being very different in a very important way.

Purgatory is a place to flee from God for the unworthy who nevertheless have God's life in them, sanctifying grace.  Purgatory too is a terrible place, a place of punishment, a place of much terror, so terrible that the worst punishments and sufferings on earth are as nothing compared with it.

But this fire which burns the spiritual soul, as in hellfire, is not to endure forever.  It burns rather to purify one of the impurities of this world which have been contracted, to purify our charity, and to purify us of our unjust wrath, our excessive pride, our too great attachments to creatures rather than God their Creator, and all vices man is capable of, which have been forgiven but not atoned for.  It is a thousand times easier to suffer before death for these impurities, for the suffering is so terrible.  The book by Fr. Shouppe, S.J., gives many examples, which all graphically illustrate this point.

But this terrible suffering is not everlasting as that of hell.  It is a place to flee for those who are unworthy of God yet, but who have something of God in them, i.e., the true Faith and sanctifying grace.  In Purgatory there is hope, instead of despair;  there is some genuine love of God.  This fire burns rather to cleanse so that we may be worthy of the divine presence.  It is a merciful fire, and punishment of God's love for the sinner.  All know they need this cleansing, they know they as yet do not belong in God's company.  They are grateful for this punishment, because it will ready them for God one day, perhaps long in the future, many years by earthly standards, perhaps even centuries, as Fr. Shouppe indicates.

This is the teaching of Our Lord and therefore of the Church and the Saints.