Today, July 13th is the a 103rd anniversary of the third vision at Fatima – no, not the third secret, which is another story – to the three shepherd children, the one in which they were given a glimpse of hell ‘where the souls of poor sinners go’, which terrified the children, and prompted them on a fast-track to sanctity. But we should not fear, at least not overmuch, for love, of the perfect sort, casts out fear, and hell is eminently avoidable. After all, God wills to save us, and all we need do is say yes, do our duty, follow His commandments, pray regularly, and do what good we might. We have to want to go to hell to end up there, and, in a paradoxical sense, any beings who are in hell don’t want to leave. We may surmise that hell appears to be hell more so ‘from the outside’, from the perspective of heaven, and the infinite glory and joy therein, and the defining characteristic of hell is, as the Catechism says, the “state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed”, for which persistence in deliberate and unrepented mortal sin is necessary.
So, as the saying goes, don’t do it – mortal sin, that is. And if we do do it, repent, in confession. God, Our Lady, Saint Joseph, your guardian angel, all the saints and angels, want you with them, more even than you want to be with them. As Thomas More might say, not a bad lot, that, and what chance hath the devil against all them? As the first Pope wrote, God, who does not want “any to perish, but all to come to repentance” (2 Pet 3:9). So repent, and all manner of things will be well; fight the good fight, and may all meet merrily in paradise!