Sometimes people think that the fires of hell mean real fire (only), because they are afraid of WHO that fire actually is, namely, God, that is, God’s love. Yes, in hell. It’s not universal salvationistic to say that God loves all regardless of whether or not they love him, regardless of whether they are in heaven or in hell or here upon this earth for that matter. The difference involves the reception of that love or not:
- Those in heaven rejoice in this ardent fiery love.
- Those on earth who follow Jesus are purified by this fiery love.
- Those in purgatory are purged by this fiery love.
- Those on earth who reject Jesus are thrown into agonizing frustration by this fiery love.
- Those in hell, upon whom God’s love shines, scream in the agony that this love brings to them, for they want nothing to do with such love; their intellectual burning frustration sets their souls on fire.
But it’s all God’s love. I’m sure there are those who just won’t get this, and who will insist that I’m not a priest anyway for the fact of being Pope Francis’ Missionary of Mercy, and will stomp their feet while shouting that I’m a heretic for saying that God’s love is in hell and that that’s what makes hell hell for those in hell. But, hey, I can only say what is right. Irony is scary. And somehow, I can’t apologize for that. Maybe I’m evil. Hilaire Belloc might say so. I haven’t put this up for a little while, so, here it goes up again (I think I should memorize this; it would do anyone good to memorize it):
To the young, the pure, and the ingenuous, irony must always appear to have a quality of something evil, and so it has, for […] it is a sword to wound. It is so directly the product or reflex of evil that, though it can never be used – nay, can hardly exist – save in the chastisement of evil, yet irony always carries with it some reflections of the bad spirit against which it was directed. […] It suggests most powerfully the evil against which it is directed, and those innocent of evil shun so terrible an instrument. […] The mere truth is vivid with ironical power […] when the mere utterance of a plain truth labouriously concealed by hypocrisy, denied by contemporary falsehood, and forgotten in the moral lethargy of the populace, takes upon itself an ironical quality more powerful than any elaboration of special ironies could have taken in the past. […] No man possessed of irony and using it has lived happily; nor has any man possessing it and using it died without having done great good to his fellows and secured a singular advantage to his own soul. [Hilaire Belloc, “On Irony” (pages 124-127; Penguin books 1325. Selected Essays (2/6), edited by J.B. Morton; Harmondsworth – Baltimore – Mitcham 1958).]