A Meditation on Hell
Close your eyes and place your feet flat on the floor. Feel the solid surface under your feet and look for that solid place deep within yourself. Feel the air going slowly in and out of you. Hold your breath for a moment and feel the life surge within your body. As you breathe in again, breathe in the name of Jesus by saying silently, “Jesus, Lord.” As you let the air escape from you, silently pray, “have mercy on me.” Keep repeating this for a short time until you have completely relaxed.
You have come into the presence of God and offer yourself to Him.Remind yourself of your real world. Consider how we live surrounded by violence and anger, in a deteriorating environment steeped in self-deception, untruth, and error, and under genuine threat of nuclear holocaust. Through all this, we ask God what we yearn for: I ask God to let me fee the bone-deep sense of loss and pain that a person suffers who has lost love forever, so if I ever face a test, I will cling to God’s love tenaciously.
Thinking about Hell:
1. First, remember that Jesus told His disciples about the Last Judgement. The King of Glory will say to some, “Come, you whom my Father has blessed,” and to others, “Go away from me, with your curse upon you” from Mt. 25.
2. Then think about what Hell means.
First, alienation. We have inside ourselves an orientation toward others, and toward God. In Hell, we are oriented only towards ourselves.
Second, loneliness. I miss others, but I cannot say who those others are.
Third, frustration. My whole self is meant to be an “alleluia” spoken in praise and thanksgiving; in Hell, I can only snarl, frustrated of being my true self.
Fourth, absurdity. God wrote into myself those values - loyalty, fidelity, truth telling, honesty, service to others - that, being kept, would make me happy; but during my life, I chose other values that I deemed would make me happy - perhaps the values of pleasure, having power over others, feeling totally secure, spending money, and so on. Now, I know that the values I chose are absurd, without root in my own true self. I live absurd - now forever and ever.
Then wonder what it would be like as a place. What are the sounds and sights of a place where people live totally for themselves? What does the atmosphere feel like, where everyone lives lonely, selfish, and frustrated?
Imaging yourself in that condition for a while. What kind of bitter anger would I feel at myself? Would I regret doing the things that got me here? Could I ever forgive myself?
Finally, we turn to Jesus Christ and say:
Lord Jesus Christ, You have kept me from death after death, from the final loneliness. You have not let any creature send me down into death and into the pit. Oh, Lord, You have saved me and cherished me, even when I was mindless of You, maybe even when I really did not care about You. I can hardly believe such love: I cannot understand it. Please, Lord, let me fear more than anything else that I might lose You and Your love. Let me name that loss Hell. You, Lord, keep me out of there.