meditating on the thought of hell



“The devil’s worst and most fatal preparation for the coming of Antichrist is the weakening of men’s belief in eternal punishment” (F.W. Faber)

I came across some very powerful notes of Father F.W. Faber (an acclaimed “master in mystical theology” according to Catholic Encyclopedia) from the second to last homily he ever preached (which was during Lent).  He first preached about the importance of penance and then he mentioned three grand helps in the spiritual battle for our souls.

With respect to these “three grand helps,” Father Faber lays incredible importance on the third one – faith in hell (and this was in 1863). His point is that loss of belief in hell leads to laxity and spiritual death. Thus, a great safeguard against going to hell is belief in its existence, and that is his point. What’s interesting is that Jesus did not avoid telling us about hell. The key point: faith in hell is a sure deterrent from going there. When Saint Faustina was shown hell, she mentioned that so many of its occupants hadn’t believed in hell (Diary, 741).

Here is the note (by Faber):

“I would urge upon you the three grand helps, and not helps only, but facilities also, of penance. 

 1.     Continual remembrance of our sins. 

 2.    Continual remembrance of His [Jesus’] Passion. 

 3.    Continual remembrance of an undoubting faith in Hell.”

With respect to the third point, Father Faber states:

“The devil’s worst and most fatal preparation for the coming of Antichrist is the weakening of men s belief in eternal punishment. Were they the last words I  might ever say to you, nothing should I wish to say to you with more emphasis than this, that next to the thought of the Precious Blood there is no thought in all your faith more precious or more needful for you than the thought of Eternal Punishment” (Fourth Sunday in Lent, 1863; this was the last occasion but one on which Father Faber preached; from: Notes on Doctrinal and Spiritual Subjects, p.23).

These profound thoughts of a very great spiritual writer deserve a moment’s meditation.

Tom Mulcahy, M.A. 

P.S. It is well known that the great mystic, St. Teresa of Avila, experienced a terrifying vision of hell from which she emerged with great supernatural zeal for the salvation of souls.

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