"Tom, as a priest I must say that there IS indeed a Hell. That aside, who am I to say whether anyone is there or not."I don't deny Hell, per se. I do however, have difficulty in perceiving Hell as existing in tandem with an all-loving God. I realize that God's ways are far beyond my own, but that doesn't make this any easier for me to understand.
I relate it, perhaps poorly, to the relationship I have as father to my children. Could my children one day insult and reject me, denouncing their relationship with me? Sure they can. Would I ever stop hoping they would have a change of heart and return to a loving relationship with me. I can't imagine I would. I'd wait on the porch for one or both of my prodigals son to return, bounding off the porch as soon as I saw them on the horizon taking one step toward me. I understand punishment and the need to answer for our actions and inactions spiritually. I understand free will, BUT I have a hard time applying it here.
I get tripped up by the idea a flawed limited human being could possibly make a reasoned free will decision about being eternally damned. That an all-loving God, who loves us more than any parent ever loved a child, could possibly allow his Beloved to make a decision that - by its very nature - is limited, flawed and incomplete about an eternity of suffering. Would I allow my children to make such a decision? Never. There's "tough love" and then there is infinite sufferng versus finite crime, regardless of the heinous nature of the crime. "Tough love" eventually teaches a lesson. Hell does not allow learning...it is eternity without the possibility of parole.
In this context, I guess that the concept of Purgatory makes spiritual/metaphysical sense to me; do the crime, you do the time, so to speak.
I do know the biblical and catechetical teachings on the problem of Hell and the problem of suffering in general. I understand them. I do struggle mightily with them, all the same. May the veil be lifted from my eyes...one of these days.
Tuesday in the Octave of Easter
Daily Mass Readings