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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

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Relationships with the Damned

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I want to give my take on a few questions that were recently reflected upon online by Msgr. Pope. He does a great job but I wanted to share how I would approach them.

Relationship to God:  Do the damned hate God?

I have often spoken about how the devils and the damned hate God. This truth requires certain elaboration. Note first that “hate” here is not an emotion but a movement of the will. How do we encounter God? God can show himself in his essence as the supreme good or he can reveal himself by his effects. The latter is how we and those in hell experience God. God is the greatest or highest or supreme good from which all other goodness is derived. As such, even the angels probably encountered some sort of veil between themselves and God when they made their frightful decision to obey or to rebel. The same would apply to men. Otherwise, seeing God for who he is in his essence would logically eradicate any decision to oppose or to flee him. The supreme good by definition compels unity or communion. The angels were probably presented with the idea of beatitude but not immediately presented with the beatitude itself. Any who would have the beatific vision would be unable to forfeit it.

Human beings in this world experience the good through the intellect and will; however, our experience of the transcendent is limited by the conditions of our present life. When the saints see God, the gift of grace that accompanies the beatific vision makes this movement of the will immutable. In other words, those who see God in heaven (angels or men) will always see God in heaven. The value of freedom is realized, not destroyed. Those who would shy away from seeing God misuse and damage their freedom. They remain limited to “an idea of God” and his effects. Those in hell might hate God for their necessary dependence upon him (although not for their existence) and/or for the pain that accompanies their banishment. They do not see God for who he is in himself.

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Relationship to Themselves:  Just as the devil is behind our culture of death, would not the devils and the damned prefer absolute destruction to endless life and agony?

The devils would tempt men to spurn life, not because they hate life but because to renounce the good of life dishonors the Creator who is the author of life. Demons and the damned among humanity want no annihilation for its own sake even though they wish they could escape the suffering they endure. Further, it is wrong to imagine hell populated by sadists who find joy in pain. The biggest problem they seem to face is that they find pain in joy. It is a profound reversal. They have run away from the happiness that God had planned for them.

Relationship to the Saints:  Can the saints and the damned communicate or visit with one another?

I have already remarked that I do not believe the saints become amnesiacs about those who are damned. Rather, the overwhelming joy of heaven makes it impossible for them to experience sorrow about the damned and removes any capacity to be manipulated by them. It has been speculated that the damned might initially see or perceive those in heaven but not the glory that shines upon them and the source of that glory. This is reflected in the story of the rich man and the beggar Lazarus. But there will be no crossing over. The saints will neither have a desire nor the ability to visit damned family ones. The damned will be unable to take vacations in heaven. There is no respite. However, it has also been argued that the damned (at least by the Day of Judgment) will be deprived of this window to the blessed into heaven. It would seem to me that the nature of this separation of the unjust from the just would by necessity have to become absolute. The saints of God will then fully reflect the radiance of the one they look upon. I suspect the damned would find it like us trying to stare at the sun. The light would be too brilliant; stare long enough and you would become blind. That really says it all. The damned will become blind to the saints and to God— as prisoners of hell, what they see will be limited to the measure of their individual cells.

 

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