Sunday, December 17, 2006

Four Meanings of Hell

There are four meanings of hell:

  • Hell (Gehenna): the everlasting [Is 66:24; Mk 9:43,45,47; 2 Thess 1:9; Rev 14:11; 19:3; 20:10] place of punishment of damned men and demons by the pains of loss (of the beatific vision), material (corporeal) fire [Mt 3:12; 13:42,50; 18:8; 25:41; Jude 7 Rev 19:20], and other accidental pains. The pains of Hell are essentially immutable and they differ in degree according to demerit. Hell is likely within the earth [Num 16:31; Psalm 54:16; Is 5:14; 14:9; Ek 26:20; Mt 12:40; Phil 2:10] (and it will never run out of room [Prov 30:15-16]), and the damned are in material darkness [Mt 22:13; 25:30; 2 Pet 2:17; Jude 13].
  • Limbo of infants (limbus parvulorum or puerorum): the permanent place of perfect natural positive happiness for those who die with original sin, but not personal mortal sin. The happiness is not supernatural like in Heaven due to the lack of the beatific vision. They have natural happiness because they know they were not capable of attaining what they missed out on.
  • Limbo of the Fathers (limbus patrum): the temporary location of the souls of the just who died before the Lord Jesus Christ triumphantly ascended into Heaven [Gen 44:38; Mt 8:11; Lk 8:19; 14:15; 16:22; 23:43; Eph 4:9; 1 Pet 3:18-20], since the Pearly Gates of Heaven were closed as punishment for Adam's sin.
  • Purgatory (Purgatorio): the place of temporal punishment by cleansing corporeal fire of the just who die in venial sin (not original and mortal sin) [2 Macc 12:42-46; Mt 12:32; Lk 12:47-48; 1 Cor 3:10-17; 1 Jn 5:17; Rev 21:27], where the pains are more severe than any in this life. No merit is possible in Purgatory. Some people are delivered from Purgatory sooner than others [1 Cor 3:10-17].

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