LENTEN CONVERSION: THE PLACE WE CALL HELL IS LIKE…
What is hell like? This is not a topic that raises to the level that I would think about but it did come up in this week’s Lectio Divina meditation (Philippians 2:5). I have not experienced Hell because I have never been there (nor have I ever been to Heaven). I think it is significant that Christ did not tell us what heaven or hell actually is, mainly because we probably would not comprehend it with our human nature. What Christ did tell us is what Hell is like. Matthew 25 He also did that with the concept of heaven. Simili est regnum coelorum.
RANDOM THOUGHTS ABOUT THE DAMNED
We can only know anything about heaven or hell that is consistent with our human nature. This means I uncover bits and pieces about hell in as much as I have the capacity to relate my current experiences of human living with what I consider Hell to be. Here are some feelings that are common to me that might apply to the Hell of my imagination. Imagine this feeling…forever.
- Hell is like a Comedy Club gig where the comic continues to use old, dated material over and over, and you can’t order a Coke or Pepsi. You can never leave the club, ever. At least there is no cover charge. You paid that price when you entered the club
- Hell is like having to listen only to Lawrence Welk music forever if you are a Kiss fan, while another person next to you hears only to Kiss music but like Lawrence Welk music. (Twilight Zone episode)
- Hell is like your best friend pointing out all the typos in your manuscript but not commenting if she like it at all.
- Hell is like going on a trip and forgetting to pack your toothbrush and toothpaste plus your comb.
- Hell is like going to your physician’s office and waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting for them to see you, then they take you to the consulting room where you are waiting and waiting and waiting for the physician. When he does see you, it is for less than five minutes and you leave feeling worse than when you came in.
- Hell is like having severe acid reflux (heartburn) with no Tums or Rolaids to take.
- Hell is living with a person who continues to preach that physicians are only out to make money and you can’t trust them and for you to stop taking your medications because it is too expensive.
- Hell is leaving the church because you think it has a relaxed policy about pedophilia only to find out the church you just joined has pedophilia, drinking, and sex trafficking problems with members and clergy. Now what?
- For a golfer, Hell is a place of absolutely beautiful greens, clubhouse, spotless dining rooms, and splendid services for any amenity you could wish, with only one drawback— there are no golf balls.
- Hell is a preacher railing against greed and dirty sex while having hired a prostitute to see him ejaculate in a paper cup, only to find out it is being broadcast to his congregation back home.
- Hell is telling other people what to believe about reading Scripture while you look at pornography and hoochy-coochy girls on YouTube.
- Hell is belonging to any political party that hates others because of their personalities.
- Hell is a famous actor or author who thinks they are god and writes about it.
- Hell is a broken-down, old Lay Cistercian who is seduced into thinking that he can move from self to God by himself and without the power of the Holy Spirit.
- Perhaps the truest expression of Hell is one that has the Devil gloating over your fall from grace because you chose yourself over God’s will. He laughs at you because of your weakness and gullibility at being so easily seduced and taunts you with the notion that you had everything you needed to get to Heaven and be happy with God forever, and you blew it because of jealousy, anger, hatred, pride, envy, lust, and murder. Think about living with that…forever.
Chapter 4: The Tools for Good Works
In this period of Lent, all of us must sit in that backbench at church, head bowed, daring not to look up at the crucifix, saying all the while, “Lord Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me a sinner.” St. Benedict asks us to reflect on heaven and hell and the consequences of it. He writes this in Chapter 4 of his Rule.
If you are a successful politician, a physician, a charismatic preacher, a military enlisted or officer, one who is convinced that there is no god but you, what does it profit you, if you have all the money, fame, adulation, and power, but miss the point of life? Lent is a good time in silence and solitude to re-convert yourself to have in you the mind of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 2:5) If Christ is number one, there is no need for a number two.