The Pope recently in a sermon talked about Satan:
“He is a liar and what’s more is the father of lies, he generates lies and is a trickster. He makes you believe that if you eat this apple you will be like a God. He sells it to you like this and you buy it and in the end he tricks you, deceives you and ruins your life. ‘But father, what can we do to avoid being deceived by the devil?’ Jesus teaches us: never converse with the devil. One does not converse with him. What did Jesus do with the devil? He chased him away, he asked his name but did not hold a dialogue with him.”
Pope Francis went on to explain how when Jesus was in the wilderness he defended himself when replying to the devil by using the Word of God and the Word of the Bible. Therefore, he said, we must never converse with this liar and trickster who seeks our ruin and who for this reason will be thrown into the abyss.
The Pope noted that the reading from Revelation describes how the Lord will judge the great and the lowly “according to their deeds” with the damned being thrown into the pool of fire and he said this is the “second death.”
“Eternal damnation is not a torture chamber. That’s a description of this second death: it is a death. And those who will not be received in the Kingdom of God, it’s because they have not drawn close to the Lord. These are the people who journeyed along their own path, distancing themselves from the Lord and passing in front of the Lord but then choosing to walk away from Him. Eternal damnation is continually distancing oneself from God. It is the worst pain, an unsatisfied heart, a heart that was created to find God but which, out of arrogance and self-confidence, distances itself from God.”
Pope Francis said distancing oneself from God who gives happiness and who loves us so much is the “fire” and the road to eternal damnation. Noting how the final image in the reading from Revelation ends with a vision of hope the Pope concluded his homily by saying if we open up our hearts with humility we too will have joy and salvation and will be forgiven by Jesus.
The Pope’s conception of Hell recalls that popularized by CS Lewis in The Great Divorce:
“That’s right. There are. They’ve been moving on and on. Getting further apart. They’re so far off by now that they could never think of coming to the bus stop at all. Astronomical distances. There’s a bit of rising ground near where I live and a chap has a telescope. You can see the lights of the inhabited houses, where those old ones live, millions of miles away. Millions of miles from us and from one another. Every now and then they move further still. That’s one of the disappointments. I thought you’d meet interesting historical characters. But you don’t: they’re too far away.”
“Would they get to the bus stop in time, if they ever set out?”
“Well-theoretically. But it’d be a distance of light-years. And they wouldn’t want to by now: not those old chaps like Tamberlaine and Genghis Khan, or Julius Caesar, or Henry the Fifth.”
“Wouldn’t want to?”
“That’s right. The nearest of those old ones is Napoleon. We know that because two chaps made the journey to see him. They’d started long before I came, of course, but I was there when they came back. About fifteen thousand years of our time it took them. We’ve picked out the house by now. Just a little pin prick of light and nothing else near it for millions of miles.”
“But they got there?”
“That’s right. He’d built himself a huge house all in the Empire style-rows of windows flaming with light, though it only shows as a pin prick from where I live.” “Did they see Napoleon?” “That’sright. They went up and looked through one of the windows. Napoleon was there all right.” “What was he doing?” “Walking up and down-up and down all the time-left-right, left-right-never stopping for a moment. The two chaps watched him for about a year and he never rested. And muttering to himself all the time. ‘It was Soult’s fault. It was Ney’s fault. It was Josephine’s fault. It was the fault of the Russians. It was the fault of the English.’ Like that all the time. Never stopped for a moment. A little, fat man and he looked kind of tired. But he didn’t seem able to stop it.”