The Fire of Hell is Unlike Anything Here on Earth


It is good occasionally to think of the fires of hell. Knowledge of the physical torments alone ought to convert us closer to Christ. I offer a brief selection from St. Alphonsus Liguori's Preparation for Death:

The Fire of Hell.

The pain which most severely torments the senses of the damned arises from the fire of hell, which tortures the sense of touch. The vengeance on the flesh of the ungodly is fire and worms. Hence, in passing sentence, the Lord makes special mention of it. Depart from Me, you cursed, into everlasting fire. Even in this life, the pain of fire is the greatest of all torments; but according to St. Augustine, our fire, compared with the fire of hell, is but painted fire. St. Vincent Ferrer says, that in comparison with the fire of hell our fire is cold. The reason is, that the fire of this earth has been created for our use; but God has made the fire of hell purposely to torment the damned. As Tertullian remarks: "Fire which is made for the use of man in this world, is very different from that which is used for the justice of God." The wrath of God lights up this avenging fire. A fire is kindled in my rage. Hence, the Prophet Isaias calls the fire of hell the spirit of heat. If the Lord shall wash away the filth of the daughters of Sion . . . by the spirit burning. The damned will be sent, not to the fire, but into the fire. "Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire." Thus, like a piece of wood in the furnace, they will be surrounded by fire. They will have an abyss of fire on every side. If they touch, or see, or breathe, they touch and see, and breathe nothing but fire. They will live in fire, like a fish in water. But this fire will not only surround the damned, but will also enter into their very bowels to torment them. Their bodies will become all fire. Thus, this fire will burn the bowels, the heart, the brain, the blood within the veins, and even the marrow within the bones. Each of the damned will be in himself a furnace of fire. Thou shalt make them as a furnace of fire.

Some cannot bear to walk under a strong sun, or to remain in a close room before a large fire; they cannot endure a spark that flies from a candle; and still they fear not the devouring flames of hell. Which of you, says the Prophet Isaias, can dwell with devouring fire? As a wild beast devours a lamb, so the fire of hell devours the damned; but it devours them without ever causing death. "Fools," says St. Peter Damian, addressing the unchaste, "continue, continue to indulge your flesh; a day will come when your impurities, like pitch, will nourish and increase within your bowels the flame which will torment you in hell." St. Jerome says that this fire will bring with it all the pains and torments to which men are subject on this earth - pains in the sides, in the head, in the bowels, in the nerves. In this fire the damned will suffer even the pain of cold. Let him, says Job, pass from the snow waters to excessive heat. But we must always keep in mind, that all the torments of this earth are, as St. Chrysostom says, but the shadow of the pains of hell.

* * *

Now think of the torments Our Lord endured to save us from this end, and to even open up the gates of paradise to us. How indescribably foolish sin is.


  1. Ironic. As a kid growing up in an evangelical church I learned that all Roman Catholics will go into hell for preaching a false gospel and worshipping Mary. I'm pretty sure the Council of Trent likewise condemns all Protestants to the fire of hell for heresy. That doesn't leave many who'll actually make it to heaven, does it.


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