Category Archives: Hell

Saint Maria Faustina’s Visions of Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven

A blog I ran across sometime ago posted a series of excerpts from the The Diary of St. Faustina (Via Diary.)

Saint Maria Faustina’s Visions of Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven

(Via In God’s Company2.)

In it St. Faustina describes her visions of the afterlife. It is for our own spiritual progress and development that she was permitted to see these, and report them in her writings.

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"

Paid the last penny

In this excerpt from the Gospel Reading for the Mass for the Friday of the First Week of Lent, Jesus gives a pretty telling sign of the existence of Purgatory:

Matthew 5:26: “Amen, I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.”

(Via USCCB.)

The Gospel prior to this is about reconciliation and paying debts while you can before you meet the judge. An indication that while you are alive you should work out your penance, forgive others and settle debts against people you have sinned.

And if you don’t? You shall have to pay for it in afterlife. But if that afterlife is an eternity in Hell, how is the debt to be paid? There must be an intermediary place, a place of punishment where your penance is completely fulfilled.

And only then will “you be released,” for we known that there is never a liberation from Hell.

This can only mean Purgatory, a place of expiation so that you can enter Heaven pure and undefiled from the stains of sin.

Work out your penance now, in the transitory place that is “Life.” Why wait until Purgatory? Granted, you know that you are saved if you should find yourself there, but why delay any longer your grand entry into Heaven? This “Life” is passing, it exists solely to determine where you’ll spend Eternity.

This is Lent, start making good use of it.

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"

Is it the Fire of Hell, or Purgatory?

There is an article in Spirit Daily: “WHEN A SOUL SPEAKS OF FIRE, IS IT HELL OR SOMETIMES LOWEST PURGATORY?” that discusses for the discernment of readers the Gospel passage of the rich man and poor Lazarus.

The article mentions the possibility that the rich man may not have been in Hell, but rather Purgatory. Kindly read for your consideration. (I think Jesus was talking about Hell, not Purgatory.)

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"


What happens when you die?

A lot of hopeful people assume that you go straight to Heaven. Hell is a fantasy to scare people into being good, and that God would never send anyone to Hell (This is true, God would never send anyone to Hell. But people send themselves to Hell by the choices they’ve made in life that have as their consequence the ultimate rejection of God.)

But since not everyone goes to Hell, do the rest go straight to Heaven? What about people who by the choices they’ve made are destined for Heaven, but have not fully repented for the sins they committed before converting? What about people who make “deathbed conversions”, is it fair that they enter into Heaven with sins not fully remitted through Earthly penance? What about us alcoholics and addicts who think that “Well, I did my Step 4* and Step 5**, that’s enough.” Since according to Ephesians 5:5: “Be sure of this, that no immoral or impure or greedy person, that is, an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God,” (Via USCCB.) what about those who just fall short of perfection? Who dies perfect? We all die with stains on our soul and junk in our trunk. One small impurity and we’re banned from Heaven?

Well, there is hope for those of us that are not perfect. That hope is “Purgatory”

(Via New Advent.)

Purgatory is that place where we go where we are finally and completely purged of any attachment to selfish and sinful inclinations. I strongly recommend that you read that linked article from New Advent, it explains a lot and includes Scriptural passages supporting the idea, along with excellent human reasons for Purgatory’s existence, even if there was no Scriptural basis.

I envision Purgatory to be a place and a process. As a place, perhaps some domain outside of Heaven (“Heaven’s foyer”) in which we see the glory of God and the beauty of Heaven, but our sinful attachment to ourselves and to Earthly pleasure prevents us from entering. The pain we feel at this separation is our “purgation”. It is the process by which we are cleansed of all impurities so that we can finally enter into our true home.

This cleansing is a suffering, and if we accept and not reject the Earthly suffering that we experience, we can begin our purgatory now.

* and ** : Steps 4 and 5 for the unknowing are those of the 12 Steps of recovery programs in which the recovering addict does a “fearless and searching moral inventory” of their lives and then afterwards “admits to God, to ourselves and another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"

Deadly Sin

There is a death beyond which you can imagine. There is a thing which can kill you forever and from which there is no relief.

That thing is mortal sin.

Mortal sin is that sin in which you cut yourself off from God completely, from which there is no eternal life if you die with it on your soul. You condemn yourself to Hell for all eternity.

1 John 5:16-17;

If anyone sees his brother sinning, if the sin is not deadly, he should pray to God and he will give him life.

This is only for those whose sin is not deadly. There is such a thing as deadly sin, about which I do not say that you should pray.

All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that is not deadly.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church discusses mortal sin at length in the following paragraphs:

Mortal sin destroys charity in the heart of man by a grave violation of God’s law; it turns man away from God, who is his ultimate end and his beatitude, by preferring an inferior good to him.

Venial sin allows charity to subsist, even though it offends and wounds it.

Mortal sin, by attacking the vital principle within us—that is, charity—necessitates a new initiative of God’s mercy and a conversion of heart which is normally accomplished within the setting of the sacrament of reconciliation:

When the will sets itself upon something that is of its nature incompatible with the charity that orients man toward his ultimate end, then the sin is mortal by its very object . . . whether it contradicts the love of God, such as blasphemy or perjury, or the love of neighbor, such as homicide or adultery. . . . But when the sinner’s will is set upon something that of its nature involves a disorder, but is not opposed to the love of God and neighbor, such as thoughtless chatter or immoderate laughter and the like, such sins are venial.

For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: “Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent.”

Grave matter is specified by the Ten Commandments, corresponding to the answer of Jesus to the rich young man: “Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and your mother.” The gravity of sins is more or less great: murder is graver than theft. One must also take into account who is wronged: violence against parents is in itself graver than violence against a stranger.

Mortal sin requires full knowledge and complete consent. It presupposes knowledge of the sinful character of the act, of its opposition to God’s law. It also implies a consent sufficiently deliberate to be a personal choice. Feigned ignorance and hardness of heart do not diminish, but rather increase, the voluntary character of a sin.

Unintentional ignorance can diminish or even remove the imputability of a grave offense. But no one is deemed to be ignorant of the principles of the moral law, which are written in the conscience of every man. The promptings of feelings and passions can also diminish the voluntary and free character of the offense, as can external pressures or pathological disorders. Sin committed through malice, by deliberate choice of evil, is the gravest.

Mortal sin is a radical possibility of human freedom, as is love itself. It results in the loss of charity and the privation of sanctifying grace, that is, of the state of grace. If it is not redeemed by repentance and God’s forgiveness, it causes exclusion from Christ’s kingdom and the eternal death of hell, for our freedom has the power to make choices for ever, with no turning back. However, although we can judge that an act is in itself a grave offense, we must entrust judgment of persons to the justice and mercy of God.

I write about this as there is the real possibility of mortal sins having been committed in our alcoholic past. Granted that there is a serious mitigating factor in that our will was compromised by our addiction, still our moral reasoning may be in need of correction after sobering up. A strong examination of our alcoholic past in our moral inventory is likely to turn up some unsavory behaviors. Exposing them to another in 12 Step work isn’t enough. It does help clear the past and set us on a straighter moral path, but the stain of sin remains from these past actions.

These need to be taken care of in our return to the Sacrament of Confession. The chance need not be risked that our alcoholism or any other addiction can be used as an excuse to avoid Confession.

Supposition that we’ve suffered enough from them is not good enough, we need the sacramental graces from Confession and the absolution cleansing our soul to save us from damnation.

Our eternal life depends upon it.

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"

Scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel

The Scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel is a devotional article worn by Catholics. Back in the day Catholic schoolchildren were enrolled in the Confraternity (i.e. fraternal organization) of the scapular when they attended Catholic schools or otherwise done so in their parish.

Further detailed information on the scapular can be found at this site of the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel .

Why am I writing about this? One of the promises of Our Lady is that they who die wearing the scapular will not suffer eternal damnation. This sort of thing can get certain types in an uproar, as it can seem to some to be a license to sin (because I won’t go to Hell anyway, so why not?) It may also be likened to the heresy of “once saved, always saved.”

But I think not. If you wear your scapular, it is rather conspicuous. Not like the crosses that people wear, seemingly mostly for decoration than conviction, to wear the scapular is more a public witness. It is cloth. It peeks out from the shirt your wearing. Not a lot of people wear it. It isn’t fashionable. It hangs down the front as well as the back. It is sometimes annoying and inconvenient. It is also distinctly Catholic, assuming you’ve ever seen one being worn.

As a result of all these points, to wear the scapular is a conscious effort, a distinct from wearing the cross (kind of sad, actually. More of a commentary on the devaluing of the cross’ meaning.) Anyone wears the cross, few wear the scapular.

So, instead of being a guarantee of eternal salvation, it is a guarantee that you will not go to Hell. So, what’s the difference? Purgatory is the difference. It is a visible reminder to the wearer that they are still accountable for their sins, and will still suffer for them.

Not a bad idea, a constant reminder of mortality and the resulting effects of the decisions of one’s life.

“Remember that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return,” the priest says this or something close when he spreads ashes on your forehead on Ash Wednesday.

So, you might not go to Hell, but you might spend much time in Purgatory. Makes you want to start your Purgatory now, rather than later. At least now you can merit from accepting the suffering that enters your life, and possibly start amending it.

(Author’s note: although this post has a postdate of July 16th – the Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel – , it was actually written in August.)

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"

The Four Last Things

There are four unalterable, unavoidable truths that every human must eventually face.

You will die.

You will be judged.

You will be received into Heaven or…

 … your life will condemn you to Hell.

Period. No wishful thinking will alter the above truths. They are expressly laid out in the Bible and they cannot be avoided.

“But I’m not Christian…” Yeah, so what. Non-Christian religions may have much truth in them and they may lead people to God, but only in Judeo-Christianity has God revealed Himself to us and wrote a roadmap to the afterlife and salvation in the Bible. You will be judged for what you are responsible for (more on that in a later post).

Anyway, my name is Paul, and I am an alcoholic who found sobriety from drink in the Twelve Steps of a recovery program but discovered sustained sobriety in the Catholic Church. In the course of my recovery, I thought more deeply than most other 12-Steppers of my acquaintance on the eternal verities. Death. Judgement. Heaven. Hell. The four unavoidables.

I’ve rarely heard these topics brought up in recovery meetings, except that some members presumed that they’ve already experienced Hell or went through Purgatory on Earth as a consequence of their drinking. I understood that as an expression of suffering, but I wondered about the real places , or whatever they are. That will be explored in this blog.

This won’t be your typical recovery blog, not that my primary blogging effort: Sober Catholic is normal, either. (At least by people who are used to straight up Twelve Step blogs.) This blog should also be of interest to people not in recovery but who are curious about the afterlife from a Catholic perspective. Just filter out any “Don’t drink” talk. 

Concerning not drinking, another reason why I am starting this blog is that one thing I’ve heard in 12 Step meetings is the basic conviction or feeling that once you’ve stopped drinking, that’s it. You’ve run the race and you’re “in”. That’s always bothered me. Just not drinking today isn’t enough. You may still sin (that is, offend God), and perhaps even mortally sin. There are whole other ways to screw up your life besides drinking. You may still do those. Hopefully this blog will make you aware of that and start thinking beyond “just not drinking.”  

I will try my best to present everything from a point-of-view that is Catholic, and authentically so. No pick-and-choose “cafeteria Catholic” here.

Hopefully, this will actually be fun, in a strange sort of way.  I’m not exactly sure how I’m going to to do this beyond musings and meditations on the four unavoidables and related things, using my own thinking and authentic Catholic teachings.  I have this image in my head of me going around and taking pictures of cemetery plots and using them as visual reminders. “Someday, this will be where you’ll be, or someplace quite like it.” 

I will discuss grief, a particular interest of mine. I will also talk about Purgatory, and yes, the Church still teaches that it exists. 
Anyway, take care and read on.

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"