On the Teaching of Our Lord Concerning Hell.

On the Teaching of Our Lord Concerning Hell.

PRAYER BEFORE MEDITATION.

My God, I firmly believe that Thou art here present. I acknowledge that on account of my many sins I am utterly unworthy to appear before Thy sacred countenance. Yet, confiding in Thy infinite goodness and mercy, I venture to address Thee, to call upon Thy holy name, and meditate upon Thy commandments, in order that I may acquire a better knowledge of Thy holy will, and accomplish it with more fidelity. Wherefore enlighten my understanding that I may perceive what I ought to do or leave undone for the promotion of Thy glory and my own salvation; at the same time excite my will, that I may repent with my whole heart of my past sins, and resolve for the future to do all that Thou requirest of me. Grant me above all to know Jesus, my divine Teacher and Guide, more clearly, that I may love Him more dearly, and consequently labor, struggle and suffer with greater generosity and self-sacrifice in imitation of His example. Holy Mary, Mother of God and my Mother, show Jesus to me now, and let me study thy divine Son to the salvation of my soul. Holy Guardian Angel, keep far from me all distracting thoughts; my patron saint, come to my assistance. Amen.

On the Teaching of Our Lord Concerning Hell.

On this, the last day of another week, imagine yourself to have reached the last day of your life, that solemn moment when death’s cold hand is laid on you and you are compelled to go forth from this world into eternity. No rescue is possible, no delay will be granted you. Pale and terror-stricken, you feel that the hour has come when you must appear before the terrible, the inexorable Judge. And this one hour, this single moment will decide your whole eternity. Upon it depends whether you may eternally enjoy the felicity of Heaven, whether you will be enthroned for evermore in the celestial courts, or cast into the horrible abyss of hell for all eternity. If the latter should be your fate, are you aware of the awful future that awaits you? Our Lord Himself tells you what you have to expect. Meditate on His words.

1st. “Cast him out into exterior darkness.” (St. Matt, xxii. 13.) Thus we learn that hell is pre-eminently a place of darkness, “the eternal night of damnation,” as St. Gregory says. Darkness is the opposite of light; it is related to death, and in its train follow fear, horror, disquietude and sadness; it is a word never used in a good sense. Only think, my soul, of the condition of a blind man who is condemned to pass his whole life in perpetual night and darkness; try to realize what it would be to be confined for years, perhaps for your whole lifetime in a dismal dungeon where no ray of light can ever penetrate; imagine yourself buried alive in a dark, tomb-like vault what a deplorable fate! Now as is this blind man, this prisoner, this individual who is buried alive, so are the lost in hell. They are cast, as is said in the Book of Job, “into a land that is dark and covered with the mist of death, a land of misery and darkness where is the shadow of death, and no order, but everlasting horror dwelleth.” (Job xxi. 22.) Woe betide the unhappy sinner, who seeks the darkness that under cover of it he may work the works of iniquity; he will expiate them in eternal darkness, he will one day hear the appalling words of the prophet addressed to him: “Sit thou silent and get thee into darkness, daughter of the Chaldeans” (Is. xlvii. 5), and he will cry in lamentation with the Psalmist: “They have laid me in the lower pit, in the dark places and in the shadow of death.” (Ps. Ixxxvii. 7.)

2d. Consider the further description our Lord gives of hell: “There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Thus nothing breaks the silence of that terrific darkness but cries and gnashing of teeth. Pause awhile and consider the twofold expression our Lord employs. Weeping, howling is the expression, the utterance of pain and grief, and truly of no ordinary pain, but a great and violent pain that does not merely move the sufferer to complain and shed tears quietly, but compels the damned to cry aloud with agony and torture. Moreover the reprobate experience this woe, this torment in their souls as well as in their bodies. Only think of the mental anguish of a mother who has lost her only child; represent to yourself the unspeakable torture and desolation of a soul who deems herself forsaken by God; imagine the gnawing regret and consuming grief of a man who is banished to a distant barren region, and is tortured by homesickness. Then ask yourself what is the grief of a mother in comparison to that of the damned, of one who has sustained a loss infinitely greater than that of a child, who has lost that for which he was destined, the goal of his life, eternal felicity? What is the suffering of a soul who imagines herself forsaken by God in contrast to the grief of one whom God has really abandoned? And how can the pain of longing to return to one’s native land bear comparison with the agony of eternal unsatisfied yearning after the celestial country, the soul’s true home? And in regard to the bodily pains and torture which cause the lost souls to weep and cry aloud, listen to what is written in the Imitation of Christ: “In what things a man hath sinned, in these he shall be more heavily punished. There the slothful are plied with fiery goads, and the gluttons will be tormented with extreme thirst and hunger. There the luxurious and the lovers of pleasure will be bathed in burning pitch and stinking brimstone, and like mad dogs the envious will howl for grief. There is no vice which will not have its proper torment. There the proud will be filled with all confusion, and the covetous be straightened with most miserable want.” Choose to weep now, my soul, that thus you may escape this eternal weeping.

3d. Our Lord adds: “There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” To gnash one’s teeth is a sign of anger, of rage, of hatred. In hell there reigns a twofold, a threefold hatred, which impels the damned to gnash their teeth. Those unhappy souls hate God before all else. They cannot, they may not love Him any longer, therefore they hate Him, and the more they hate Him, the more they gnash their teeth at Him, so much the more do they increase the fire that tortures and consumes them. What awful misery of the soul! Created to love God, she is condemned to hate Him eternally. In the second place the damned rage with wild fury against themselves; they hate their body, the instrument of the sins for which they suffer, and they hate their soul, which has brought them to this misfortune. They would fain be annihilated, so great is their abhorrence of themselves, but this is impossible; they would fain kill themselves, but alas! they are destined to live forever. O awful torture of the soul! Created to attain happiness by love and legitimate self-love, she is condemned to eternal hatred of self. Thirdly, the lost hate one another, and this is what makes hell to be hell. Think of the wretched life of married people between whom discord prevails, represent to yourself the pitiable condition of a family, a Community, a cloister where there is no peace and concord, and then endeavor to conceive the appalling idea of hell filled throughout with devils and reprobate souls eternally at war with one another, cursing, hating, raging at one another, gnashing their teeth in the violence of their fury. But let this be enough for to-day! Close your eyes and for one moment imagine yourself in that awful place of darkness where “there is weeping and gnashing of teeth,” and then remind yourself that it stands within your own power either to escape or be plunged into that unutterable anguish to-day, to-morrow perhaps, but whether any longer who can tell?

PRAYER AFTER MEDITATION.

My God, I give Thee heartfelt thanks for all the graces and all the light Thou hast conferred on me during this meditation. Pardon me all the negligence and the distractions of which I have been guilty, and give me strength to carry out the resolutions that I have made. Fortify me, that from henceforth I may diligently practise this virtue . . . avoid this fault . . . perform this action . . . to Thy honor. Help me to do this, sweet Virgin Mary; and if I ever forget my good resolutions, I entreat my Angel Guardian to recall them to my memory. Amen.

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October Devotion: The Holy Angels and the Holy Rosary.

Virtues to practice: Confidence.


Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel.

Most glorious prince of the heavenly hosts, Archangel St. Michael, defend us in the battle and in the tremendous struggle we carry on against the Principalities and Powers, against the rulers of the world of darkness and all evil spirits. Come to the help of man, whom God created immortal, fashioned to His own image and likeness, and rescued at a great price from the tyranny of the devil. With the great army of the holy angels fight to-day the battle of the Lord as thou didst of old fight against Lucifer, the leader of the proud, and his apostate angels, who were powerless against thee, and they had no longer a place in heaven; and that monster, the old serpent who is called the devil and Satan, that seduces the whole world, was cast into hell with his angels. But now that first enemy and homicide has regained his insolent boldness. Taking on the appearance of an angel of light, he has invaded the earth, and, with his whole train of evil spirits, he is prowling about among men, striving to blot out the name of God and of His Christ, to capture, to destroy, to drag to eternal perdition the souls destined to the crown of eternal glory. That malignant dragon is pouring abroad, like a foul stream, into the souls of men of ruined intellect and corrupt heart the poison of his wickedness, the spirit of lying, of impiety and blasphemy, the pestilent breath of impurity and of all vice and iniquity. Most cunning enemies have filled with bitterness and drenched with gall the Church, the Spouse of the Lamb without spot, and have lifted impious hands against all that is most sacred in it. Even in the holy place where the See of Blessed Peter and the chair of truth was set up to enlighten the world, they have raised the abominable throne of their impiety with the iniquitous hope that the Shepherd may be stricken and the flock scattered abroad. Arise, then, unconquerable Prince, defend the people of God against the assaults of the reprobate spirits, and give them the victory. Holy Church reveres thee as its guardian and patron; it glories in thee as its defender against the malignant powers of hell; to thee God has committed the souls that are to be conveyed to the seats of the Blessed in eternal happiness. Pray, then, to the God of peace, that He may put Satan under our feet, so completely vanquished that he may no longer be able to hold men in bondage and work harm to the Church. Offer up our prayers before the Most High, so that the mercies of the Lord may prevent us, and lay hold of the dragon, the old serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and hurl him bound in chains into the abyss where he may no longer seduce the souls of men. Amen.

V. Behold the Cross of the Lord, fly ye hostile ranks.
R. The Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, has conquered.
V. May Thy mercies, O Lord, be fulfilled in us.
R. As we have hoped in Thee.
V. Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come unto Thee.

Let us pray.

O God, and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we call upon Thy holy name and humbly beseech Thy clemency, that, through the intercession of the ever immaculate Virgin and our Mother Mary, and of the glorious Archangel Saint Michael, Thou wouldst vouchsafe to help us against Satan and all the other unclean spirits that are prowling about the world to the great peril of the human race and the loss of souls. Amen.

His Holiness, Leo XIII., Motu Proprio, September 25, 1888, granted to the faithful who recite the above prayer
AN INDULGENCE OF THREE HUNDRED DAYS, once a day.

ANTIPHON.

Sancte Michael Archangele,
defende nos in praelio,
ut non pereamus
in tremendo judicio.

Holy Archangel Michael,
defend us in battle,
that we may not perish
in the tremendous judgment.

His Holiness, Leo XIII., by a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, August 19, 1893, granted to the faithful who recite the above antiphon
AN INDULGENCE OF ONE HUNDRED DAYS, once a day.

GABRIEL, THE ARCHANGEL.
NOVENA IN HONOR OF S. GABRIEL THE ARCHANGEL.

The Sovereign Pontiff, Pius IX., by a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, Nov. 26, 1876, granted to all the faithful who, with contrite hearts, at any time during the year, devoutly make the novena in honor of S. Gabriel the archangel, with any formula of prayer, provided it be approved by competent ecclesiastical authority,
AN INDULGENCE OF THREE HUNDRED DAYS, once a day;
A PLENARY INDULGENCE, during the novena, if, truly penitent, having confessed and communicated, they pray for the intention of the Sovereign Pontiff.

RAPHAEL, THE ARCHANGEL.
NOVENA IN HONOR OF S. RAPHAEL, THE ARCHANGEL.

The Sovereign Pontiff, Pius IX., by a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, Nov. 28, 1876, granted to all the faithful who, with contrite hearts, at any time during the year, devoutly make the novena in honor of S. Raphael the archangel, with any formula of prayer, provided it be approved by competent ecclesiastical authority,
AN INDULGENCE OF THREE HUNDRED DAYS, once a day;
A PLENARY INDULGENCE, during the novena, if, truly penitent, having confessed and communicated, they pray for the intention of the Sovereign Pontiff.

PRAYER TO S. RAPHAEL, ARCHANGEL.

Glorious Archangel, S. Raphael, great prince of the heavenly court, illustrious by thy gifts of wisdom and grace, guide of travellers by land and sea, consoler of the unfortunate and refuge of sinners, I entreat thee to help me in all my needs and in all the trials of this life, as thou didst once assist the young Tobias in his journeying. And since thou art the “physician of God,” I humbly pray thee to heal my soul of its many infirmities and my body of the ills that afflict it, if this favor is for my greater good. I ask, especially, for angelic purity, that I may be made fit to be the living temple of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

His Holiness, Leo XIII., by a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, June 21, 1890, granted to the faithful who shall recite the above prayer
AN INDULGENCE OF ONE HUNDRED DAYS, once a day.

THE ANGEL GUARDIAN.
PRAYER
.

Angele Dei,
qui custos es mei,
me tibi commissum pietate superna
illumina, custodi,
rege, et guberna.Amen.

Angel of God,
my guardian dear,
To whom His love commits me here,
Ever this day be at my side,
To light and guard,
To rule and guide.
Amen.

The Sovereign Pontiff, Pius VI., by a brief, Oct. 2, 1795, granted to all the faithful, every time that, with at least contrite heart and devotion, they shall say this prayer:
AN INDULGENCE OF ONE HUNDRED DAYS.
A PLENARY INDULGENCE, on the feast of the holy guardian angels (Oct. 2), to those who shall have said this prayer, morning and evening, throughout the year, provided that, on the day of the feast, being truly penitent, after confession and communion, they shall visit a church or public oratory, and pray for the Sovereign Pontiff.
The same Sovereign Pontiff, by a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, June 11, 1796, granted:
A PLENARY INDULGENCE, at the hour of death, to all those who, during life, shall have frequently said this prayer, provided they shall have the proper dispositions.

The Sovereign Pontiff, Pius VII., by a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, May 15, 1821, not only confirmed the above mentioned indulgences, but, moreover, granted:
A PLENARY INDULGENCE, once a month, to all the faithful who shall have said it every day for a month, as above directed, on any day, when, being truly penitent, after confession and communion, they shall visit a church, and pray devoutly for the intention of his Holiness.

NOVENA IN HONOR OF THE GUARDIAN ANGEL.

The Sovereign Pontiff, Pius IX., by a rescript dated at Gaeta, Jan. 5, 1849, and by another of the S. Congr. of Bishops and Regulars, Jan. 28, 1850, granted to all the faithful who, with contrite hearts, at any time during the year, devoutly make the novena in honor of the Guardian Angel, published by the Rev. Joseph M. Falcone, of the Congregation of the Missions:
AN INDULGENCE OF ONE HUNDRED DAYS, once a day.
A PLENARY INDULGENCE, either during the novena or upon one of the eight days immediately following, if, truly penitent, they confess and communicate, and say some prayers for the holy Church and for the Sovereign Pontiff.
By a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, Nov. 26, 1876, the same Sovereign Pontiff deigned to approve that these indulgences may be gained by those who make the novena to the Guardian Angel with any other formula of prayer, provided it be approved by competent ecclesiastical authority.

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