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University of Toronto St. George
Joseph Bryant

February 15 12 John Paul II1 Gd is the infinitely good and merciful Father But man called to respond to him freely can unfortunately choose to reject his love and forgiveness once and for all thus separating himself for ever from joyful communication with him It is precisely this tragic situation that Christian doctrine explains when it speaks of eternal damnation or hell It is not punishment imposed externally by Gd but a development of premises already set by people in this life The very dimension of unhappiness which this obscure condition brings can in a certain way be sensed in the light of some of the terrible experiences we have suffered which as is commonly said make life hellBroke with historical tradition hell and the devilThe state of those who definitively reject the Fathers mercy even at the last moment of their lifedefinition of hell2 To describe this reality Sacred Scripture uses a symbolic language which will gradually be explained In the Old Testament the condition of the dead had not yet been fully disclosed by Revelation Moreover it was thought that the dead were amassed in Sheol a land of darkness a pit from which one cannot reascend a place in which it is impossible to praise GdNeutral death ideaThe New Testament sheds new light on the condition of the dead proclaiming above all that Christ by his Resurrection conquered death and extended his liberating power to the kingdom of deathRedemption nevertheless remains an offer of salvation which it is up to people to accept freely This is why they will all be judged by what they have donePresents the place destined or evildoers as a fiery furnace where people will weep and gnash their teeth permanent settlement pool of fireWhoever continues to be closed to the Gospel is therefore preparing for eternal destruction and exclusion from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might3 The images of hell that Sacred Scripture presents to us must be correctly interprested They show the complete frustration and emptiness to life without Gd Rather than a place hell indicated the state of those who freely and definitively4 People who go against Gd are demonsEternal damnation remains a real possibility The thought of helland even less the improper use of biblical imagesmust not create anxietyConcludesHell is a place of eternal tormentin the Popes viewpeople who do not follow they chosen to separate from Gdthe
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