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.
Jesus solemnly proclaims that he “will send his angels, and they
will gather . . . all evil doers, and throw them into the furnace of
and that he will pronounce the condemnation: “Depart
from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire!”
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 fromGod, in whom alone man can possess the
life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs.
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-
“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.”
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
God predestines no one to go to hell;
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”:
614 614 Cf.
5:22, 29; 10:28; 13:42, 50;
617 Cf. DS 76; 409; 411; 801; 858; 1002; 1351; 1575; Paul VI,
48 § 3;
25:13, 26, 30, 31-46.
620 Cf. Council of Orange II (529): DS 397; Council of Trent (1547): 1567.