Low Sunday: The Realities of Hell and the Mercy of God
Sister Maria Faustina Story
Faustina’s name is forever linked to the Divine Mercy of Christ, the Divine Mercy chaplet, and the Divine Mercy prayer recited each day at 3 p.m. by many people.
Born in what is now west-central Poland, Helena Kowalska was the third of 10 children. She worked as a housekeeper in three cities before joining the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in 1925. She worked as a cook, gardener and porter in three of their houses.
In addition to carrying out her work faithfully, generously serving the needs of the sisters and the local people, Sister Faustina also had a deep interior life. This included receiving revelations from the Lord Jesus, messages that she recorded in her diary at the request of Christ and of her confessors.
Because Sister Maria Faustina knew that the revelations she had already received did not constitute holiness itself, she wrote in her diary: “Neither graces, nor revelations, nor raptures, nor gifts granted to a soul make it perfect, but rather the intimate union of the soul with God. These gifts are merely ornaments of the soul, but constitute neither its essence nor its perfection. My sanctity and perfection consist in the close union of my will with the will of God.”
Sister Maria Faustina died of tuberculosis in Krakow, Poland, on October 5, 1938.
Her Vision Of Hell In Her Own Words
In these remarkable visions, Our Lord Jesus Christ portrayed himself outpouring divine mercy and forgiveness from his heart. These rays of mercy represented the blood and water that gushed forth from His side after His Death on the Cross.
She also received several visions of the realities contained in Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory.
"I, Sister Faustina Kowalska, by the order of God, have visited the Abysses of Hell so that I might tell souls about it and testify to its existence...the devils were full of hatred for me, but they had to obey me at the command of God, What I have written is but a pale shadow of the things I saw. But I noticed one thing: That most of the souls there are those who disbelieved that there is a hell." (Diary 741)
She continues. “Hell is a place of great torture; how awesomely large and extensive it is!” And then Sister Faustina describes the kinds of tortures she saw:
The First Torture that constitutes hell is:
The loss of God.
The Second is: Perpetual remorse of conscience.
The Third is: That one's condition will never change.
The Fourth is: The fire that will penetrate the soul without destroying it. A terrible suffering since it is a purely spiritual fire, lit by God's anger.
The Fifth Torture is: Continual darkness and a terrible suffocating smell, and despite the darkness, the devils and the souls of the damned see each other and all the evil, both of others and their own.
The Sixth Torture is: The constant company of Satan.
The Seventh Torture is: Horrible despair, hatred of God, vile words, curses and blasphemies.
These are the Tortures suffered by all the damned together, but that is not the end of the sufferings.
There are special Tortures destined for particular souls. These are the torments of the senses. Each soul undergoes terrible and indescribable sufferings related to the manner in which it has sinned.
I would have died
There are caverns and pits of torture where one form of agony differs from another. I would have died at the very sight of these tortures if the omnipotence of God had not supported me.
No One Can Say There is No Hell
Let the sinner know that he will be tortured throughout all eternity, in those senses which he made use of to sin. I am writing this at the command of God, so that no soul may find an excuse by saying there is no hell, or that nobody has ever been there, and so no one can say what it is like...how terribly souls suffer there! Consequently, I pray even more fervently for the conversion of sinners. I incessantly plead God's mercy upon them. O My Jesus, I would rather be in agony until the end of the world, amidst the greatest sufferings, than offend you by the least sin." (Diary 741)
What kind of place is hell according to the Scriptures?
Did you know that Jesus talked more about hell than He did about heaven? Did you know that Jesus taught more about hell than anyone else in the Bible? How do you explain that if the doctrine of hell is passe? You can’t.
The word translated “hell” in Mark 9 verses 43, 45, and 47 is the Greek word “Gehenna”. It is a transliteration of two Hebrew words “Ge Hennom” or “Valley of Hinnom.” Geographically, it is a deep valley on the south and west sides of Jerusalem. Historically, it was a place where child sacrifices were made to Molech. Molech was a great metal idol which was hollow inside and the priests would stoke a fire inside the idol where it would be white hot. Then people would bring their little babies by and place them in the searing hands of the idol where they would die immediately. King Josiah condemned this practice and claimed it was unclean. It has since become the waste heap of Jerusalem where the fires smolder on seemingly forever.
What about this place called hell? What does Jesus teach us here? First,
I. Hell Is A Place of Eternal Suffering.
Those who die in Christ go to heaven and are given an eternal body for joy, peace, and pleasure. Paul tells us “to be absent from this body is to be present with the Lord.” But, those in hell will be made eternal for suffering, an eternal state of dying and torment as they are placed “into the fire that shall never be quenched ... to be cast into hell fire – where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.” Eternal torment.
In Luke 16, we are told of a rich man and Lazarus. They both died, the rich man ended up in hell and Lazarus ended up in Paradise or Abraham’s bosom. “The rich man ... In hell, where he was in torment, looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.”
Many people have attempted to describe the agony associated with hell, but there is nothing in this world to even begin to describe the awfulness of hell; nothing that will even come close.
The lost who die will receive an immortal body. Jesus said in our text that hell is a place where “their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.” The flames and the burning will last forever and let me point out, there are few pains comparable to being burned. Jesus, in Matthew 13 said, hell is a place of wailing and gnashing of teeth. These terms signify enduring, excruciating pain. Imagine a person thrown into a volcano. In the earth’s inner core, the temperatures are 12,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Hell is a place where all who are there will be eternally tormented beyond their wildest imagination. If a person dies without Jesus, they have had their last rest.
II. Hell Is a Place of Eternal Separation.
At death, a lost person is taken from the earth and from all good things and is separated forever in hell. Hell is an eternal prison prepared for the Devil and his angels. Hell was never intended for people and the people who end up there choose hell over Jesus.
We also find in Luke 16 that there is a “great gulf fixed” that prohibits any rejoining of the good things or heaven, which can be seen from hell. Eternal and forever is a long time and it defies description – time without end.
III. Hell Is a Place of Everlasting Darkness and Sorrow.
There are those who believe that hell will be like an exclusive country club. Where there will be golfing, swimming, smoking, drinking, watching x-rated movies with old friends; they believe it’ll be a great time in hell.
I had someone tell me, “All my friends and family are in hell, that’s where I want to go.” Those that are there are like the rich man, they are begging God to send someone to warn us not to follow in their footsteps. Saint Peter tells us that a person without Christ will be placed into “chains of darkness” and be forever in the “blackness of darkness.”
IV. Hell Is A Place of Exceptional Memory.
In Luke, Abraham told the rich man, which was in hell, “Remember that in your lifetime you received your good things...” People in hell will have their conscience accusing them forever. They will remember the songs, prayers, and words of witness. They will remember their mother, father, priest who loved and warned them.
People who have had limbs amputated say they feel pain or an itch even though there is no limb. In Luke, the rich man craved water and had an unquenchable thirst. Lost people will crave the good things they enjoyed on earth but will be unable to satisfy those eternal craving. Hell is a place of exceptional memory.
The rich man in Luke remembered his lost brothers in hell. He wanted Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his brothers that they didn’t want to come to where he was. I wonder how many mothers, father, brothers and sisters are begging God to send someone to you and warn you about the horrors of hell?
Today, this sermon might be your only warning, please choose the Divine Mercy of God and not hell.
There is one last thing I want us to see. That is,
V. Hell Is A Place That Is Entirely Avoidable.
If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched -
And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame, rather than having two feet, to be cast into hell,
And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire – where ‘Their worm does not die.
All the way through this passage of Scripture is the underlying reality that you have a choice. In these verses, Jesus isn’t talking about amputation or self-mutilation, He is talking about making a choice about sin. The hand refers to actions which are sinful and evil.
The foot carries us to places that can corrode. Lot walked too close to Sodom and lived to regret it.
The eye refers to unholy desires and passions. Jesus says we are to deal drastically and seriously with sin.
The Bible and in the visions given to Sister Faustina, is very clear, at the moment a unsaved person dies they go to hell. When a person who rejects Christ gift of salvation, takes that last breath and the heart stops beating, there is no delay in going to their eternal abode. Where would you go if you were to die this very moment?
St. Bernard says “I am filled with fear and trembling, and all my bones are shaken at the thought of that unhappy country of the damned.”
St. Catherine of Siena “I saw the torments of hell and those of purgatory; no words can describe them. Had poor mortals the faintest idea of them, they would suffer a thousand deaths rather than undergo the least of their torments during a single day.”
St. Cyprian of Carthage “The wicked bodies of the condemned shall simmer and blaze in those living fires.”
Hell Does not have to be an option. Because of the Divine Mercy, God has given us a way of escape.
What must I do to be saved from hell?
Realize you are a Sinner:
We inherited Adam’s sinful nature and are sinful from the moment of conception. (Romans 5:12)
"Wherefore as by one man ( Adam) sin entered into this world, and by sin death; and so death passed upon all men, in whom all have sinned." A good Test to show that we are sinners is the Ten Commandments. If you broke even one of these commandments your guilty of all. (James 2:10) "And whosoever shall keep the whole law, but offend in one point, is become guilty of all."
Believe on Jesus as the one who bore your sin, died in your place, was buried, and whom God resurrected:
(John 1:12) "But as many as received him, he gave them power to be made the sons of God, to them that believe in his name.”
Repentance is to have such a sorrow for something, that it makes you want to change your mind and your actions toward that thing.
"Be penitent, (repent) therefore, and be converted (turn back or change your mind), that your sins may be blotted out."
You must desire and seek to be baptized.
"Do penance, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of your sins: and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."
You do not have to wake up one day in hell. There is Mercy and Hope for those who will turn their life totally over to the Merciful Saviour.
Exodus 34:6-7 tells us that,“The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin …”
Saint Peter tells us:
"The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." (II Peter 3:9)