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99. God's Mercy and Justice Towards the Damned

1. Scripture repeatedly tells us that the punishment ofhell is everlasting. For instance, St. Matthew says (25:46) that"the wicked shall go into everlasting punishment." Asreward is measured to meet merit, so punishment is measured to meetguilt. But the guilt of mortal sin is the guilt of completelyrejecting God and offending him whose majesty is infinite. Theguilt of such a sin deserves unending punishment.

2. There is no place for mercy in hell, for mercy cannotbe exercised upon what, by its very nature, rejects it. Theperverse will of both men and fallen angels in hell is ceaselesslyopposed to any mercy that might be shown them. Further, if mercywere to bring an end to retribution, justice would bring an end tothe happiness of heaven.

3. Despite God's wondrous mercy, the fallen angels andlost human souls, cast themselves into hell. While they hate theirtorments, they still retain their perverse will against God. Sorrowfor sin, in the sense of rejecting evil and turning to God, isutterly impossible in hell. Hence, even the mercy of theall-merciful God cannot penetrate the rebel wills of the lost andbring them relief.

4. Christians who go to hell are there eternally, just asnon-Christians are. Indeed, Christians who knew more thanmany others who are in hell, are more deserving than those othersof endless torment.

5. It cannot be said that those who perform works of mercyduring life on earth will necessarily escape the punishments ofhell. Even great sinners may sometimes do remarkable deeds ofmercy. During earthly life, such deeds may be the means of winning(congruously) contrition for the one who performs them, but theyare no guarantee that contrition will be accepted, or that it willendure to the end of life, and so enable the performer of the gooddeeds to escape hell.

"Before a man chooses his confessor, he ought to think well about it, and pray about it also; but when he has once chosen, he ought not to change, except for most urgent reasons, but put the utmost confidence in his director."
St Philip Neri

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"Many words do not satisfy the soul; but a good life eases the mind and a clean conscience inspires great trust in God."
Thomas á Kempis

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"God has no need of men."
St Philip Neri

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