The Dogma of Hell,
Illustrated by Facts Taken from Profane and Sacred History
Rev. F.X. Schouppe, S.J.
Copyright 1883, by P.V. Hickey, and first published in 1883, by Hickey & Co., Barclay Street, New York.
1. The Dogma of Hell
2. The Manifestations of Hell
3. Apparitions of the Damned
4. The Denial of Hell is Foolish Bravado
5. The Awaking of the Ungodly Soul in Hell
6. Truth of Hell
7. Pains of Hell
8. A Salutary Fear of Hell
9. The Thought of Hell
Appendix 1.Sister Josefa Menendez' Description of Hell
The purpose of this book is to help people avoid Hell. It was written over 100 years ago by the eminent French theologian, Rev. F.X. Schouppe, S.J. His book concentrates mainly upon telling actual stories of people who have had religious visions, revelations and experiences of various kinds that exemplify most vividly the reality of Hell. By this method, he attempts to bring before the mind of his reader the awesome prospect of Hell, that we should be always aware that it truly exists, and it is the just reward of the wicked, and that we never know exactly when it is we shall die (since we have no assurance whatsoever of the length of our days). Therefore we should always be prepared to render an accounting of our lives. Rev. Schouppe wrote over a century ago, and did not have access to two revelations about Hell from the 20th century, namely the vision of Hell granted by Mary to the three children at Fatima, Portugal on July 13, 1917, and the revelations about Hell found in the spiritual diaries of Sister Josefa Menendez (1890--1923), a Spanish nun of the Society of the Sacred Heart, who was assigned to the order's convent in Poitiers, France, where she had locutions from our Lord. Rev. Schouppe would probably have included these two narrations in his book, had he written after they occurred, and therefore they are included as two appendices to this edition of his book, plus the parable of Christ about the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16) with a short explanation.
The Dogma of Hell
The dogma of Hell is the most terrible truth of our faith. There is a Hell. We are as sure of it as of the existence of God, the existence of the sun. Nothing, in fact, is more clearly revealed than the dogma of Hell, and Jesus Christ proclaims it as many as fifteen times in the Gospel. (See Chapter 6.)
Reason comes to the support of revelation; the existence of a Hell is in harmony with the immutable notions of justice engraved in the human heart. Revealed to men from the beginning and conformable to natural reason, this dreadful truth has always been and is still known by all nations not plunged by barbarism into complete ignorance.
Hell never has been denied by heretics, Jews or Mohammedans. The pagans themselves have retained their belief in it, although the errors of paganism may have impaired in their minds the sound notion.
It has been reserved for modern and contemporaneous atheism, carried to the pitch of delirium, to outdo the impiety of all ages by denying the existence of Hell.
There are in our day men who laugh at, question or openly deny the reality of Hell.
They laugh at Hell. But the universal belief of nations should not be laughed at: a matter affecting the everlasting destiny of man is not laughable; there is no fun when the question is of enduring for eternity the punishment of fire.
They question, or even deny the dogma of Hell, but on a matter of religious dogma, they cannot decide without being competent; they cannot call into doubt, still less deny, a belief so solidly established, without bringing forward irrefragable reasons.
Now, are they who deny the dogma of Hell competent in matters of religion? Or are they not strangers to that branch of the sciences which is called theology? Are they not oftenest ignorant of the very elements of religion, taught in the Catechism?
Whence, then, proceeds the mania of grappling with a religious question which is not within their province? Why such warmth in combating the belief in Hell? Ah! It is interest that prompts them; they are concerned about the non-existence of Hell, knowing that if there is a Hell, it shall be their portion. These unhappy men wish that there might not be one, and they try to persuade themselves that there is none. In fact, these efforts usually end in a sort of incredulity. At bottom, this belief is only a doubt, but a doubt which unbelievers formulate by a negation.
Accordingly, they say there is no Hell. And upon what reasons do they rest so bold a denial? All their reasons and arguments may be summed up in the following assertions:
"I do not believe in Hell.
"They who affirm this dogma know nothing about it; the future life is an insoluble problem, an invincible, perhaps.
"No one has returned from beyond the grave to testify that there is a Hell."
These are all the proofs, all the theology of the teachers of impiety. Let us examine:
First: I do not believe in it. You do not believe in Hell? And there is no Hell because you do not believe in it? Will Hell exist any the less because you do not please to believe in it? Should a thief be so foolish as to deny that there is a prison? Would the prison thereby cease to exist if he did not believe in it? And would the thief not enter it?
Second: You say that the future life is a problem and Hell a "perhaps." You are deceived; this problem is fully solved by Revelation and left in no uncertainty.
But suppose for a moment that there were an uncertainty, that the existence of eternal torments were only probable, and that it may be said: "Perhaps there is no Hell." I ask any man of sound reason, would he not be the silliest of men who, upon such a perhaps, should expose himself to the punishment of everlasting fire?
Third: They say that no one returned from beyond the grave to tell us about Hell. If it were true that no one has returned, would Hell exist the less? Is it the damned who ought to teach us that there is a Hell? It might as well be said that it is prisoners who ought to inform us that there are prisons. To know that there is a Hell, it is not necessary that the damned should come to tell us; God's word is sufficient for us; God it is who publishes it and informs the world concerning it.
But are you who claim that no dead person has returned to speak of Hell; are you quite sure of it? You say it, you declare it; but you have against you historical, proved, unimpeachable facts. I do not speak here of Jesus Christ, who descended into Hell, (limbo) and rose again from the dead; there are other dead persons who returned to life, and damned souls who have revealed their everlasting reprobation. Still, whatever may be the historical certainty of this sort of facts, I repeat, it is not upon this ground that we claim to establish the dogma of Hell; that truth is known to us by the infallible word of God; the facts which we adduce serve but to confirm and place it in a clearer light.
The Manifestations of Hell
As we have just said, the dogma of Hell stands on the infallible word of God; but in His mercy, God, to aid our faith, permits at intervals, the truth of Hell to be manifested in a sensible manner. These manifestations are more frequent than is thought; and when supported by sufficient proofs, they are unassailable facts--which must be admitted like all the other facts of history.
Here is one of these facts. It was juridically proved in the process of the canonization of St. Francis Jerome (1642--1716) and under oath attested to by a large number of eye-witnesses: In the year 1707, St. Francis Jerome was preaching, as was his wont, in the neighborhood of the city of Naples. He was speaking of Hell and the awful chastisements that await obstinate sinners. A brazen courtesan (prostitute) who lived there, troubled by a discourse which aroused her remorse, sought to hinder it by jests and shouts, accompanied by noisy instruments. As she was standing close to the window, the Saint cried out: "Beware, my daughter, of resisting grace, before eight days God will punish you." The unhappy creature grew only more boisterous. Eight days elapsed, and the holy preacher happened to be again before the same house. This time she was silent; the windows were shut. The hearers, with dismay on their faces, told the saint that Catherine (that was the name of the bad woman) had a few hours before died suddenly. "Died!" he repeated. "Well, let her tell us now what she has gained by laughing at Hell. Let us ask her."
He uttered these words in an inspired tone, and everyone expected a miracle. Followed by an immense crowd, he went up to the death chamber and there, after having prayed for an instant, he uncovered the face of the corpse, and said in a loud voice, "Catherine, tell us where art thou now." At this summons, the dead woman lifted her head, while opening her wild eyes, her face borrowed color, her features assumed an expression of horrible despair; and in a mournful voice, she pronounced these words: "In Hell, I am in Hell." And immediately, she fell back again into the condition of a corpse.
"I was present at that event," says one of the witnesses who deposed before the Apostolic tribunal, "but I never could convey the impression it produced on me and the bystanders, nor that which I still feel every time I pass that house and look at that window. At the sight of that ill-fated abode, I still hear the pitiful cry resounding: "In Hell; I am in Hell." (Father Bach: Life of St. Francis Jerome).
Ratbod, King of the Friesians, who is mentioned in ecclesiastical history in the eighth century, had said to St. Wolfrand that he was not afraid of Hell; that he wished to be there with the kings, his ancestors and most illustrious personages. "Moreover," he added, "later on, I shall be always able to receive Baptism."
"Lord," answered the saint, "do not neglect the grace that is offered to thee. The God who offers the sinner pardon does not promise him tomorrow." The King did not heed his advice, and put off his conversion. A year after, learning the arrival of St. Willibrord, he dispatched an officer to him, to invite him to come to the court and confer Baptism on him. The Saint answered that it was too late. "Your master," he said, "died after your departure. He braved eternal fire; he has fallen into it. I have seen him this night, loaded with fiery chains, in the bottom of the abyss."
Here is another witness from beyond the grave. History avers that when St. Francis Xavier was at Kagoshima, in Japan, he performed a great number of miracles, of which the most celebrated was the resurrection of a maiden of noble birth. This young damsel died in the flower of her age, and her father, who loved her dearly, believed he would become crazy. Being an idolater, he had no resources in his affliction, and his friends, who came to console him, rendered his grief only the more poignant. Two neophytes (i.e., newly converted Christians) who came to see him before the funeral of her whom he mourned day and night, advised him to seek help from the holy man who was doing such great things, and demand from him with confidence, the life of his daughter. The pagan--persuaded by the neophytes that nothing was impossible to the European bonze (holy man), was beginning to hope against all human appearances, as is usual with the afflicted, who readily believe whatever comforts them--went to Father Francis, fell at his feet, and with tears in his eyes, entreated him to bring to life again his only daughter whom he had just lost, adding that it would be to give life to himself.
Xavier, touched by the faith and sorrow of the pagan, went aside with his companion, Fernando, to pray to God. Having come back again after a short time, he said to the afflicted father, "Go, your daughter is alive!"
The idolater, who expected that the Saint would come with him to his house and invoke the name of the God of the Christians over his daughter's body, took this speech as a jest and withdrew, dissatisfied. But scarcely had he gone a few steps when he saw one of his servants, who, all beside himself with joy, shouted from a distance that his daughter was alive. Presently, he beheld her approaching. After the first embraces the daughter related to her father that, as soon as she had expired, two horrible demons pounced upon her and sought to hurl her into a fiery abyss, but that two men, of a venerable and modest appearance, snatched her from the hands of these executioners and restored her life, she being unable to tell how it happened.
The Japanese understood who were these two men of whom his daughter spoke, and he led her directly to Xavier to return him such thanks as so great a favor deserved. She no sooner saw the Saint with his companion, Fernando, than she exclaimed: "These are my two deliverers!" And at the same time, the daughter and the father demanded Baptism.
The servant of God, Bernard Colnago, a religious of the Company of Jesus, died at Catania in the odor of sanctity in the year 1611. We read in his biography that he prepared for the passage by a life full of good works and the constant remembrance of death, so apt to engender a holy life. To keep in mind this salutary remembrance, he preserved in his little cell a skull, which he had placed upon a stand to have it always before his eyes. One day it struck him that perhaps that head had been the abode of a mind rebellious to God, and now the object of his wrath. Accordingly, he begged the Sovereign Judge to enlighten him, and to cause the skull to shake if the spirit that had animated it was burning in Hell. No sooner had he finished his prayer than it shook with a horrible trembling, a palpable sign that it was the skull of a damned soul.
This saintly religious, favored with singular gifts, knew the secret of consciences and sometimes the decrees of God's justice. One day God revealed to him the eternal perdition of a young libertine, who was the apple of his parents' eye. The unfortunate young man, after having rushed into all sorts of dissipation, was slain by an enemy. His mother, at the sight of so sad an end, conceived the liveliest terrors for her son's everlasting salvation and besought Father Bernard to tell her in what state his soul was. Despite her entreaties Father Bernard did not answer by a single word, sufficiently showing by his silence that he had nothing consoling to say. He was more explicit to one of her friends. This person, inquiring why he did not give an answer to an afflicted mother, the religious openly said to him that he was unwilling to increase her affliction, that this young libertine was damned, and that during his prayer God had shown him the youth under a hideous and frightful aspect.
On August 1, 1645, there died in the odor of sanctity, at the College of Evora, in Portugal, Antony Pereyra, Coadjutor Brother of the Company of Jesus. His history is perhaps the strangest furnished by the annals of this Society. In 1599, five years after his entrance into the novitiate, he was seized by a mortal malady in the Isle of St. Michael, one of the Azores, and a few moments after he had received the Last Sacraments, beneath the eyes of the whole community, who were present at his agony, he seemed to expire, and became cold like a corpse. The appearance--almost imperceptible--of a slight throbbing of the heart alone, prevented his immediate burial. Accordingly, he was left three whole days on the deathbed, and there were already plain signs of decomposition in the body, when all of a sudden, on the fourth day, he opened his eyes, breathed and spoke. He was obliged by obedience to account to his superior, Father Louis Pinheyro, all that had passed in him after the last pangs of his agony; and here is the summary of the relation, which he wrote with his own hand: "First, I saw from my death-bed," he says, "my Father, St. Ignatius, accompanied by some of our Fathers in Heaven, who was coming to visit his sick children, seeking those who seemed worthy to be presented to Our Lord. When he was near me, I thought for an instant that he might take me, and my heart leaped with joy; but he soon described to me what I must correct before obtaining so great a favor."
Then, however, by a mysterious dispensation of Providence, the soul of Brother Pereyra was momentarily released from his body, and immediately the sight of a hideous troop of demons, rushing headlong upon him, filled him with dread. But, at the same time, his guardian angel and St. Anthony of Padua, his countryman and patron, put his enemies to flight and invited him in their company to take a momentary glimpse and taste of something of the joys and pains of eternity. "They then, by turns, led me to a place of delights, where they showed me an incomparable crown of glory, but one which I had not yet merited; then, to the brink of the Abysmal Pit, where I beheld accursed souls falling into the everlasting fire, as thick as grains of corn cast beneath an ever-turning millstone. The Infernal Pit was like one of those limekilns, in which the flame is smothered for an instant beneath the heap of materials thrown into it, only to fire up again by the fuel with a more frightful violence."
Led thence to the tribunal of the Sovereign Judge, Antony Pereyra heard his sentence to the fire of Purgatory, and nothing here below, he declares, could give an idea of what is suffered there, or of the state of anguish to which the soul is reduced by the desire and postponement of the enjoyment of God and of His blessed presence.
So when, by our Lord's command, his soul was united again to his body, neither the new tortures of sickness (which, for six entire months, combined with the daily help of iron and fire, caused his flesh, irremediably attacked by the corruption of this first death, to waste away) nor the frightful penances to which (so far as obedience allowed him) he never ceased to subject himself for the 46 years of his new life, were able to quench his thirst for sufferings and expiation. "All this," he used to say, "is nothing to what the justice and mercy of God have caused me, not only to see, but to endure." Finally, as an authentic seal of so many wonders, Brother Pereyra detailed to his Superior the hidden designs of Providence on the future restoration of the Kingdom of Portugal, at that time still distant nearly half a century. But it may be fearlessly added that the most unimpeachable testimony to all these prodigies was the surprising sanctity to which Antony Pereyra never ceased for a single day to rise.
Vision of Hell - Sister Faustina's Vision 6.58 min.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. -- Proverbs 9:10 -- Psalm 111:10
Chapter 3: Apparitions of the Damned
Four Last Things Page