“The thought of hell … must not create anxiety or despair,

   but it is a necessary and healthy reminder of freedom.”

(John Paul II, 4 Aug 1999)



“Freedom is the power rooted in reason and will

   to act or not to act [freedom of exercise],

   to do this or that [freedom of specification],

and so to perform deliberate actions on one’s own responsibility.” (CCC 1731)


[Two erroneous notions of freedom:

   (i) full spontaneity, with no need for a motive

   (ii) automatic adhesion to a perceived good]



“When Michelangelo chipped the block of marble,

   a possibility died with every chip,

   but bit by bit the Pietà was born.

If he had not chipped at the marble block

   it would have lain to the end of time,

   full of possibilities but empty of fulfillment.

A good choice means growth,

   but it also means narrowing.

To grow into one possibility,

   I must die to others.

Unlike the marble block,

   it is I myself who must freely choose to die to all but one,

or my freedom for all possibilities will become a trap for all my freedom.

So long as I try to hold out several possibilities

   none becomes a reality.

We are slow to relinquish our options on our lives,

   but if we could see with the values of God

   we would see in this narrowing not impoverishment but enrichment.

The things we give up for the kingdom,

   like position, ambition, marriage and money,

   God is removing from our grasp

      like a father removing the toys from the hand of a child

      tired out with distraction

      so that he may rest more peacefully and securely.

It is our own nervous clutter of possessions

   which renders us unfree,

   which shackles us.”

(G McGinnity, Christmen: Experience of Priesthood Today, 63)



“By free will one shapes one’s own life. …

Freedom attains its perfection when directed toward God….” (CCC 1731)


“As long as freedom has not bound itself definitively

   to its ultimate good which is God,

   there is the possibility of choosing between good and evil,

   and thus of growing in perfection or of failing and sinning.” (CCC 1732)



“At the evening of our life, we shall be judged on our love.”

(St John of the Cross)


But his love is offered freely

   and has to be freely received

   and freely reciprocated.


“Simon, Bar-Iona, amas me?” (Jn 21:15,16,17)

Are you with me?

Are you on my side?


One of the most frustrating things about hell is that

   it is a creation of our possibility to choose,

   it is an offshoot of a defective freedom,

   a choice gone wrong.


Because we did not choose the Good, we are left with evil:

   the will is confronted with frustration and anger;

   the intellect with falsehoods and lies;

   the memory with the most awful reminiscences;

   the imagination with nightmares;

   the sight with the most repulsive, hideous, frightful scenes;

   the hearing with cacophony, shouting and a babel of voices

      (there everyone sings out of tune and out of beat,

      simply because they don’t listen and wouldn’t listen to one another]

   the touch with extremes of pain and heat and cold;

   the taste with disgust;

   the smell with stench.



Hell “is not a punishment imposed externally by God

   but a development of premises already set by people in this life….

It is the creature who closes himself to [God’s] love. …

God’s judgment ratifies this state.” (John Paul II, 28 July 1999)



Asked whether she knew whether she was in God’s grace or not, St Joan of Arc replied:

“If I am not, may it please God to put me in it;

if I am, may it please God to keep me there.”

This is because “grace escapes our experience” (CCC 2005).



“O God, I love thee not because

I hope for heaven thereby,

Nor yet because who love thee not

Are lost eternally.


Thou, O my Jesus, thou didst me

Upon the cross embrace;

For me didst bear the nails and spear

And manifold disgrace;


And griefs and torments numberless,

And sweat of agony;

e’en death itself—and all for me

Who was thine enemy.


Then why, O blessed Jesu Christ,

Should I not love thee well?

Not for the sake of winning heaven,

Nor of escaping hell;


Not with the hope of gaining aught,

Not seeking a reward;

But, as thyself hast loved me,

O ever-loving Lord?


Even so I love thee, and will love,

And in thy praise will sing;

Solely because thou art my God

And my most loving King.”

(St Francis Xavier. From the Marian Daily Missal, rev. SP Juergens)



“I invite you to gather throughout the day—

   with your mortification, with acts of love and of surrender to our Lord—

   milligrams of gold, diamond dust and dust from rubies and emeralds.

You will find them along the way, in little things.

Gather them

   to store up treasure in heaven,

   because with milligrams of gold,

      one can build up grams and kilograms of it;

   and with the fragments of precious stones

      you will be able to fashion

      magnificent diamonds, huge rubies, and splendid emeralds.”

(St Josemaría, 176)



“Father, accept this offering from your whole family,

grant us your peace in this life,

save us from final damnation,

and count us among those you have chosen.” (Eucharistic Prayer I)


Holy Mary,

   Refuge of Sinners,

   Help of Christians

pray for us who have recourse to you.


C:\Documents and Settings\user\My Documents\jmom RETREAT\crt_06Hell&Purgatory.rtf

Revised 24 March 2005