“Perfect charity casteth out fear.” (1 John 4:18).
When Our Lord asked Sr. Benigna Consolata, a “little soul”, to meditate on Hell, He assured her that they would do so in an atmosphere of love. We will do the same (very briefly), though we will not go into specifics about that dreadful place. (Many would profit, however, by considering their last end, as the saints did so regularly).
“I counsel you to have always two thoughts in your heart; first, the remembrance of what I have done for you in suffering and dying; this thought will excite love of God; secondly, the consideration of My justice, and the future judgment; this will strike fear* into your soul.”
Our Lord to St. Bridget
*A confident fear i.e. a fear of offending God’s love, whereby we run the risk of losing that immense privilege. “Confidence and fear of God go together like two sisters.” (St. Padre Pio)
God is infinite love; His goodness never changes. Hell is the necessary consequence of a rejection of infinite love. Certainly sin is to be feared (because sin alone sends one to Hell), and there is a natural horror that arises when we reflect on the sufferings of the damned. But we must remember, first and foremost, that God is goodness itself, and all His judgements are true, loving and just:
“The works of God are perfect, and all his ways are judgments: God is faithful and without any iniquity, he is just and right.”
– Deuteronomy 42:4
God does not demand the impossible (i.e. that we feel a certain way about His judgements), but
HE DOES ASK THAT WE ACKNOWLEDGE HIS GOODNESS IN ALL THINGS.
This pleases Him greatly. From my own experience I can say confidently- though without certainty- that He will reward you with a greater peace and confidence if you leave your fears and doubts to Him (despite your feelings), acknowleding His sovereign, unchanging goodness. St. Gertrude was wont to do this, and she was very pleasing to Our Lord, Who often filled her soul with immense consolations, which are but a foretaste of Heaven.
Mary: A Perfect Role Model
Consider the faith and love of Mary, the Mother of God and our spiritual Mother. According to many saints and mystics, Mary frequently experienced profound raptures of love, in which she was at times lifted from the ground (a phenomenon that can be found in the lives of the saints e.g. St. Joseph Cupertino, St. Padre Pio, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Gerard Majella, Bl. Mariam etc.). Mary also knew the justice of God well; the number of the saved was even revealed to her (though we are not given to know this number). Although Mary was well aware of the justice of God, she did not doubt God’s goodness. She did not waste time trying to reconcile God’s judgements with His acts of mercy. What profit is there in this? We are assured that (perfect) “charity casteth out fear”; knowledge does not cast out fear. We are incapable of conceiving even a faint notion of God’s infinite goodness. The prison of Hell that God has reserved for those who persevere in sin, is far more perfect than the justice exercised in our earthly prisons. It is humility to believe this, because “humility is truth” (St. Padre Pio).
Let us humbly accept all trials, including those that confuse and unsettle us, as coming from the hands of Our Heavenly Father. The love and wisdom of God directs all things to good., Who knows better than we do what will be most conducive to our eternal welfare and ultimate happiness!
A relevant anecdote
(Taken from ‘All For Jesus’ by Fr. Faber, a great spiritual writer)
When our Lord showed Sister Francesca of the Blessed Sacrament, a Spanish Carmelitess, the loss of a soul, and several times in a vision compelled her positively to study the separate tortures of that place*, He upbraided her for weeping: “Francesca! why weepest thou?” She fell prostrate at His sacred feet, and said, “Lord! for the damnation of that soul, and the manner in which it has been damned.” He vouchsafed to reply, “Daughter! it hath chosen to damn itself; I have given it many helps of grace that it might be saved, but it would not profit by them. I am pleased with your compassion, but I would have you rather love My justice.” (*We are not all called to do the same; this was not the way of St. Therese, for example).
What must we do to be saved?
“Do the will of God in the present moment.” – Mother Angelica
“I love souls madly; they must not be lost.”
– Jesus to Sr. Josefa Menendez