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270

Part One

1034

Jesus often speaks of “Gehenna,” of “the unquenchable

fire” reserved for those who to the end of their lives refuse to

believe and be converted, where both soul and body can be lost.

614

Jesus solemnly proclaims that he “will send his angels, and they

will gather . . . all evil doers, and throw them into the furnace of

fire,”

615

and that he will pronounce the condemnation: “Depart

from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire!”

616

1035

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.”

617

The chief punishment of hell

is eternal separation fromGod, in whom alone man can possess the

life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs.

1036

The affirmations of Sacred Scripture and the teachings of

the Church on the subject of hell are a

call to the responsibility

incumbent upon man to make use of his freedom in view of his

eternal destiny. They are at the same time an urgent

call to conver-

sion:

“Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is

easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.

For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and

those who find it are few.”

618

Since we know neither the day nor the hour, we should

follow the advice of the Lord and watch constantly so that,

when the single course of our earthly life is completed, we

may merit to enter with him into the marriage feast and be

numbered among the blessed, and not, like the wicked and

slothful servants, be ordered to depart into the eternal fire,

into the outer darkness where “men will weep and gnash

their teeth.”

619

1037

God predestines no one to go to hell;

620

for this, a willful

turning away fromGod (a mortal sin) is necessary, and persistence

in it until the end. In the Eucharistic liturgy and in the daily prayers

of her faithful, the Church implores the mercy of God, who does

not want “any to perish, but all to come to repentance”:

621

614 614 Cf.

Mt

5:22, 29; 10:28; 13:42, 50;

Mk

9:43-48.

615 615

Mt

13:41-42.

616

Mt

25:41.

617 Cf. DS 76; 409; 411; 801; 858; 1002; 1351; 1575; Paul VI,

CPG

§ 12.

618

Mt

7:13-14.

619

LG

48 § 3;

Mt

22:13; cf.

Heb

9:27;

Mt

25:13, 26, 30, 31-46.

620 Cf. Council of Orange II (529): DS 397; Council of Trent (1547): 1567.

621

2 Pet

3:9.

393

1734

1428

162

1014, 1821