Map of Life - Lesson 13


Map of Life: Chp 13 - Hell

Map of Life: Contents
Catechsim Series 1: 
Catechism Series 2: 
Aquinas 101: 
Summa Theologica: 1aQ59-64
Companion to the Summa: Sin of the angels
Random articles: Cat. Encyclopedia: Hell

Ite Missa Est: 


The Supernatural Life - Metaphysics

  1. Recap:

    Introduction: Just as we need a geographical map to know where we are, and how to get to where we want to go in the world, we also need a map of life to know where we are in relation to everything else in life, and how to get to our ultimate goal in life. This map of life is given to us by God through Divine Revelation which is preserved, interpreted and transmitted through the Catholic Church.

    Chapter 1:  Just as we must have faith in the geographical map-maker at the start of a journey, we must have faith in life's map-maker at the start of our journey through life. The map of life tells us

          (a) what man is (a creature composed of body and soul, in the image and likeness of God by the possession of an intellect and a will),

          (b) where he is destined (his finality: supernatural union with God).

    Chapter 2:  We also need an law of life so that we might attain the goal indicated on the map of life. This law comprises the physical law (for all material creatures) and the spiritual law (for intelligent creatures). Some spiritual laws are natural to man (eg. the ten commandments), some are divinely revealed in Scripture or Tradition (e.g. the laws of the sacraments). Some spiritual laws form the basis of man-made laws such as canon laws or civil laws. 

    Chapter 3: The "X" that marks the spot on the map of life is heaven, where our highest faculties (intellect and will) are perfected by a perfect knowledge and love of God, which is only possible with supernatural grace (also called supernatural life, sanctifyfing grace and habitual grace).

    Chapter 4: Adam was created with the means of attaining heaven, but lost supernatural grace, virtues and gifts when he committed the sin of disobedience. It was the first sin of the first man and condemned humanity to a fallen state whereby every man was henceforth conceived in the state of Original Sin. The map of life became blurred to humanity, the path was either lost or impassible, and "X" was unattainable without supernatural help.

    Chapter 5: God then entered into His creation so that man might (a) know the truth about God, and (b) know the law by which he might attain God, and (c) be sanctified by the supernatural life necessary for union with God. He enacted the objective redemption by which the gates of heaven were opened once again.

    Chapter 6: The Catholic Church was founded by Christ to continue His mission after he had ascended into heaven. It's mission is to teach the truth, uphold the law (both natural and divine), and sanctify souls by the sacraments. Like a living being comprising body and soul, the Church has physical body which is its human hierarchy of members on earth, and a spiritual soul which is the Mystical Body of Christ (or some say that the soul of the Church is the Holy Ghost, but this is a matter of attribution). A soul must be a spiritually living member of the Church to benefit from the Redemptive work of Christ.

    Chapter 7: Christ established the Church to teach, govern and sanctify. In its teaching office it teaches with God's authority and has the protection of God so that it will never teach error. We say that the Church teaches infallibly. The official teaching of the Church is expressed in official documents which are known as Acts of the Magisterium. A Catholic assents to the truth of the Teaching Church, not because he agrees, or it seems reasonable, but because it is backed by the authority of God.

    Chapter 8: In the Church's teachings there are many mysteries which are truths about which we cannot know everything. This is because God cannot be entirely known by the finite intelligence of creatures. God reveals mysteries about Himself so that we may know Him better by discovering all the knowable truth in each mystery. The greatest mystery revealed by God is the mystery of the Blessed Trinity by which we may discern the three Persons of the Godhead eternally knowing and loving each other.

    Chapter 9: God's Law is found in men's heart by nature and is deduced by reason (Natural Law), and it revealed to man by Divine Revelation (Divine Law). Natural Law is necessary for man's natural perfection. Natural Law and Divine Law are necessary for man's supernatural perfection. Conscience is the judgement of a practical act here and now against the moral law. Conscience needs to be informed by the natural and divine law. Man is only free if he follows God's law.

    Chapter 10: Suffering is a consequence of Original Sin, but God has desired that suffering be the gateway to union with Him. Following God's law can cause suffering. Involuntary suffering and voluntary acts which cause suffering can expiate our sins, help us grow in mastery over our passions (grow in virtue), and configure us to Christ.

    Chapter 11.1: Being animated by the life of Christ is the perfection of our whole being by which we are members of His Mystical Body and so are incorporated into Christ (the Life). We become animated by the life of Christ by sanctifying grace which is transmitted to us chiefly by means of the sacraments.

    Chapter 11.2:
    Prayer, the sacraments and sacramentals are the conduits of the supernatural life. Prayer is the first duty of every Christian. The Mass is the perfect prayer and the means of confection of the greatest sacrament, the Holy Eucharist. All the sacraments are ordained to the Holy Eucharist.

    Chapter 11.3: The Spiritual Life is life of the soul in relation to God. Its goal is a life lived by supernatural charity, so that all its actions are for love of God. Three stages are recognised in the spiritual life: purgative/humility; illuminative/transparency;  unitive/charity.

    Chapter 12: Metaphysics helps understand something about the supernatural life. We have a soul, faculties and virtues, we act with our faculties, these actions are facilitaed by virtues, each action has an object. With sanctifying grace, the whole being is raised to a new order of existance. Our souls participate in the Divine Life, we receive infused virtues which supernaturalise our faculties and permit us to act in a supernatural way. Those virtues that have God as the object are called theological virtues (faith, hope and charity), those that have moral acts are supernatural moral virtues (chiefly the supernatural cardinal virtues: prudence, justice fortitude and temperence). By supernatural grace, man is ordered to his ultimate destiny which is union with God. 

  2. Death

    When the matter of the body is no longer sufficiently ordered to be animated by the soul, the bdy dies. The human soul, being a subsistent being can exist without the body although it is incomplete in such a state.

  3. Definition of hell

    Strict sense: Hell is place or state of eternal punishment inhabited by those rejected by God.

    Wide sense

     - the limbo of infants (limbus parvulorum), where those who die in original sin alone, and without personal mortal sin, are confined and undergo some kind of punishment;

     - the limbo of the Fathers (limbus patrum), in which the souls of the just who died before Christ awaited their admission to heaven; for in the meantime heavenwas closed against them in punishment for the sin of Adam;

     - purgatory, where the just, who die in venial sin or who still owe a debt of temporal punishment for sin, are cleansed by suffering before their admission to heaven.

  4. Punishment of hell

     (i) the pain of loss (poena damni) which is an aversion to God and hence exclusion from the Beatific Vision, accompanied by the great anguish of a nature deprived of its end; 

     (ii) the pain of sense (poena sensus) which a positive punishment of the senses brought about by a material fire which binds the soul causing sorrow and despair.

  5. Properties of hell

    - Eternal: the punishment of hell lasts for eternity (de fide).

    - Unequal: the punishment of the damned is proportioned to each one's guilt (sent. communis)

  6. Where is hell?

    The Church has decided nothing on this subject; hence we may say hell is a definite place; but where it is, we do not know. St. Chrysostom reminds us: "We must not ask where hell is, but how we are to escape it".

    Philosophically, the where of a thing only pertains to material things. Therefore, as there are only souls and angels in hell until the last judgement (there are no material bodies until souls receive their bodies again), one could say that there is not a "where" of hell at the moment! 

  7. Why souls go to hell

    - Souls that die in a state of mortal sin (that is, without sanctifying grace) are not proportioned to, or ordered to, or capable of heaven which is union with God. 

    - They are like living cells that are no longer part of the body: they are souls that are no longer incorporated into Christ.

    - They die in a state of rebellion against God, hatred of God, or "love" of self in a way that excludes God. At the point of death their will is fixed: there is no new actual grace, no new knowledge to change their will.

    - The damned are not so much cast into hell, but flee to it as cockroaches fleeing the light. The hatred of God repels them from God.

    - Walter O'Farrell o.p. describes the fall of the Lucifer and the angels as being like beauty queens who are transfixed by their own beauty and so miss the pangeant!

  8. Arguments against hell

    - Q. If God is infinitely merciful, then why does He damn souls? A. Because He is infinitely just. No soul is condemned unjustly. Mercy is not the opposite of justice, but an aid to justice.

    - Q. Surely there is a disproportion between momentary sin and an eternal punishment. A. There is perfect proportion between infinite sin and infinite punishment. Time is not the determining factor.