Ask a friar… Hell?


Why would God create Hell?  Wouldn’t he want to forgive everyone after death?  I have heard that people who go to hell have chosen it, but why would God make the ability to choose it an option?

Hell is not a place; it is more like a state of being.  Heaven is union with God, when the soul is surrounded and filled with live; she gazes upon God’s eternal, incomprehensible beauty and majesty.  Hell is separation from God, when a soul has rejected the Lord.  Since God is the source of all happiness, peace, love and joy, that soul feels terrible pain and suffering.  How does a soul get to Hell?  The soul itself must choose to go to Hell.


I imagine it this way.  This isn’t exactly right, but it gets the point across.  At the end of our lives, our souls pass into the afterlife where we meet St. Peter.  At that point, St. Peter asks us to express regret for every sin we have committed and repent for all the wrong we have done.  We discover lots of sins we committed without knowing it, so at that time, when we have full knowledge available to us, we can feel sorrow for all those sins.  When we express regret and plead for forgiveness, we may enter into Heaven.  Nothing imperfect can approach God, who is perfect.  He’s like a magnet; only if we are magnetized in the right way can we be drawn to Him.  If we are magnetized the other way, we simply cannot approach. 


There are some souls who meet St. Peter, unwilling to acknowledge their sins, even though St. Peter explains it to them.  They take pride in their lives and are unwilling to give that up.  But they need to give up whatever is sinful.  Those souls are more interested in their prideful ego than in joining with God.  Because they are not willing to give up those things they cling to, they are magnetized in the wrong direction and can never approach God.  It isn’t that God sends them to Hell.  Those souls are unwilling to repent and so they simply cannot approach God.  They don’t say, “I want to go to Hell.”  But they do say, “I’m not willing to do what God asks of me to get into Heaven.  I’d rather not be with Him than have to admit that I’m wrong.”  And so they cause themselves to be separated from the only true source of happiness.


Why would God give us that option to refuse Him?  This is the same answer as why we have free will.  If we are forced to love God, it isn’t really love.  Love only occurs when we freely choose to love.  That means we must have the option to refuse love, too.  Without the possibility of Hell, there can’t be the possibility of Heaven.  If we can’t choose to reject God, we also can’t choose to love God.  Do dogs, goldfish, alarm clocks, or cars go to Heaven because they are sinless?  I don’t think so.  They never choose to love God, so they can never be joined to His eternal love in Heaven.