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Did Jesus Go To Hell?

5 Responses

  1. Fr Thembelani Ngcobo says:

    What a most beautiful article. I love the way you argue from history. You explain the use of terminology so well and apply it into our day to day living. It opens up lots points for reflection. Well done on such a scholarly work.

  2. John says:

    Thanks Father Pollitt for this excellent article. It’s very cool to have your articles published in the Southern Cross. To further back your second point about hell the Catechism teaches us:

    633 Scripture calls the abode of the dead, to which the dead Christ went down, “hell” – Sheol in Hebrew or Hades in Greek – because those who are there are deprived of the vision of God. Such is the case for all the dead, whether evil or righteous, while they await the Redeemer: which does not mean that their lot is identical, as Jesus shows through the parable of the poor man Lazarus who was received into “Abraham’s bosom”: “It is precisely these holy souls, who awaited their Savior in Abraham’s bosom, whom Christ the Lord delivered when he descended into hell.” Jesus did not descend into hell to deliver the damned, nor to destroy the hell of damnation, but to free the just who had gone before him.

    636 By the expression “He descended into hell”, the Apostles’ Creed confesses that Jesus did really die and through his death for us conquered death and the devil “who has the power of death” (Heb 2:14).

    I do have a question though about hell in particular to suicides. As the Catechism also teaches:

    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.” The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs.

    Now as suicide is considered to be a mortal sin, and those with mortal sin cannot enter heaven, would it not be wrong to say that those souls could be saved? I understand that God is not limited as we are, but it is my understanding that mortal sins can only be truly forgiven through the sacrament of reconciliation and where one truly repents. Are we not setting up a double standard? The Catechism also teaches:

    393 It is the irrevocable character of their choice, and not a defect in the infinite divine mercy, that makes the angels’ sin unforgivable. “There is no repentance for the angels after their fall, just as there is no repentance for men after death.”

    Your assistance in clarifying this would be greatly appreciated.

  3. bonnie ifeadi says:

    At what point was hell created and the intended purpose, if it was for evil then why should Jesus go there, and if a place of captive of sinners, does he need to get there to forgive them?

  4. Felicite' Ogle says:

    Thank you for another beautiful article. God Bless!!

  5. Russell Pollitt SJ says:

    Dear John

    I think that today’s Gospel about Jesus visiting the disciples locked up in fear behind closed doors is a wonderful image for those who have found life so desperate that they have committed suicide. There is no place God, in Jesus, cannot go. The Risen Jesus is able to move through the barriers/walls of our hearts into the darkest places we find ourselves and say “peace be with you”. I imagine he does that – reaching out – to those who have committed suicide.

    If you want to see what the Church says in the Catechism about suicide and salvation see 2283:

    “We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance…”

    God deals with people in a way we know not. God can touch, forgive and love beyond the boundaries of reconciliation as we know it. The Sacraments are for the living not the dead, God deals with the dead in a way we cannot and do not know.

    The Catechism also speaks of anguish, fear and hardship which diminish responsibility for mortal sin. All suicides are therefore not simply just a matter of mortal sin.