I have been reading about St. Faustina and other saints who have had terrifying visions of hell. Why doesn’t the Catholic Church do a better job teaching about the possibility of hell? I can’t remember the last time I heard a sermon on this subject.
FR. JERRY HERDA
Years ago, there was a pastor in my parish that every once in a while would give a “fire and brimstone” sermon. This was the sermon where he talked about being judged by God and final damnation, all with the hope of getting people to repent. I don’t remember hearing him talk specifically about hell, but he would raise his voice and he would get so worked up that he would slam his hand against the ambo to make his point. It certainly woke everyone up, but I’m not sure it was the best homily I ever heard.
I would agree with you that there are not a lot of sermons delivered on the topic of hell, but that does not mean that the Catholic Church is not teaching about the possibility of hell. The Catechism of the Catholic Church has numerous entries on the topic of hell. It states, “The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, ‘eternal fire.’ The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs.” (n. 1035)
As you stated, St. Faustina and other saints speak about the reality of hell. When St. Faustina was having her visions of hell, she stated, “I noticed that most of the souls there, are those that disbelieve there is a hell.” So, without a doubt, we need to believe that hell is a possibility. We also need to put into practice the words that we pray each time we pray the Divine Mercy chaplet, “Jesus I trust in you.”
Most homilies I give are with a message of hope. Yes, I challenge people to change their ways, to turn away from sin and repent. I strongly encourage people to go to the sacrament of reconciliation. I also know that Jesus delivered a message of healing, forgiveness, faith, hope and love. For many people, they are living “hell” on earth as a result of this coronavirus causing physical and mental illness, struggles to pay bills, or experiencing the death of a loved one. These people are in need of hope as they say, “Jesus I trust in you.”
Finally, each time we pray the rosary, we say that beautiful prayer, called the Fatima prayer, “O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to heaven, especially those in most need of thy mercy.” This beautiful prayer reminds us to put our trust in him.