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Question Title Posted By Question Date
23 Minutes in Hell... continued. Jack Saturday, February 23, 2008


Hey bro., I asked a question here previously about Bl. Anne Emerich's Dolorous Passion.

My next question would be about St. John's vision of hell. I'm not sure if you read it, but St. John's interpretations seem to be of a very physical sense. 'rats eating out the eyes of the people'. He also describes a literal HEAT that people feel, not a state of mind.
He said there were 1000 walls i think, all 1000 miles apart, and he put his hand on the wall furthest away from hell (thousands of miles away) and when he awoke from his vision his hand had been burned in real life.

What are your comments on this? it does not just seem like a state of mind... it seems like St. John was describing both a state of mind but also a physical pain.


Question Answered by Bro. Ignatius Mary, OLSM

Dear Jack:

I am not sure which "St. John" you are referring to. There are many Saints named "John".

In any event, private revelations are always given to people according to the personality and expectations of the receiver of the revelation. This is why two different people can have an experience of hell and report vastly different things.

The images you describe from St. John's vision are again archetypal. The 1000 walls that are 1000 miles apart is a clue to the archetypal nature of his vision. In the afterworld time and space does not exist as we think of it. Thus, "1000 miles" is meaningless.

There may indeed be a kind of physicality after the Final Judgment. We know that Jesus after the Resurrection had a physical body of sorts. He could be touched, he could eat, but he could also walk through walls and appear and disappear like a ghost.

St. Paul said it best when he said that we do not know what we will be in heaven, but we will be like Christ.

Similarly, hell will also have some sort of physicality but the type of which we cannot know.

The primary pain of hell, however, is not physical torture, it is separation from the Love and Light of God. That separation is not accomplished by God, but by those in hell. It is their state of mind that places them in a state separate from God and outside the love and light of God.

As mentioned before, the images of physical torture are mostly a human way to try to understand the pain of being deprived of the beatific vision.

One other thing, we need to remember the it is the Pope and Magisterium in union with the Pope who are the official teachers and guardians of the faith, not any of us, and not even a Saint. If there is any conflict in a Saint's interpretation of things and the Holy See's interpretation of things, we are to accept what the Holy See says above the opinions of the Saint.

God Bless,
Bro. Ignatius Mary

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