On the Eternity (∞) of

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Last Judgement (detail: Hell) - by ANGELICO, Fra - from Museo di San Marco, Florence


And his Lord being Angry, delivered him to the Torturers
until he Paid all the Debt - Matthew 18:34



On the Eternity (∞) of Hell

by Saint Alphonsus Liguori

In this Day's Gospel, we find that a certain Servant having Badly Administered the Affairs-of his Master, was Found-to Owe him a Debt-of Ten Thousand Talents. The Master demanded Payment; but the Servant, Falling-down said: Have Patience, and I will Pay thee all. The Master took Pity on him, and Forgave the entire Debt. One of his Fellow-servants, who Owed him a Hundred Pence, besought him to have Patience, and Promised-to Pay him the Last Farthing; but the Wicked Servant, Cast him into Prison. Hearing-of this Act-of Cruelty to his Fellow-servant, the Master sent-for him, and said to him: Wicked Servant, I have Forgiven thee Ten Thousand Talents, and for a Debt of a Hundred Pence, thou hast Refused-to show Compassion-to thy Fellow-servant. He then Delivered him to the Torturers, till he Paid all the Debt. Behold, Dearly Beloved Brethren, in these Last Words, a Description-of the Sentence-of the Eternal (∞) Death, which is Prepared-for Sinners. By Dying in Sin, they Die Debtors-to God, for all their Iniquities; and being Unable-to make any Satisfaction in the 'Other Life', for their Past Sins, they remain Forever (∞) Debtors-to the Divine Justice, and must Suffer-for Eternity (∞) in Hell. Of this Miserable Eternity (∞)-, I will speak Today; Listen to me, with Attention.

The Thought-of Eternity (∞) is a Great Thought; so it is Called-by Saint Augustine, Magna Cogitatio. According to the Holy Doctor, God has Made us Christians, and Instructed us in the Maxims of Faith, that we may Think-of Eternity (∞). "We are Christians, that we may always Think-of the World to come". This Thought has Driven-from the World, so many of the Nobles-of the Earth, has made them Renounce all their Riches, and shut themselves up in the Cloister, there to Live-in Poverty and Penance. This Thought has sent so many Young Men into Caves and Deserts, and has Animated so many Martyrs to Embrace Torments and Death, in-order-to Save their Souls for Eternity (∞). "For", exclaims Saint Paul, "we have not here a Lasting City, but we seek One that is to-come" - Hebrews 13:14. This Earth, Dearly Beloved Christians, is not our Country; it is a Place-of-Passage, through which we must soon Pass, to the House-of Eternity (∞). "Man shall go into the House of his Eternity" - Ecclesiastes 12:5. In this Eternity (∞), the House-of the Just, which is a Palace-of Delights, is very Different-from the House-of Sinners, which is a Dungeon-of Torments. Into One (1) of these Two (2) Houses, Each of us must certainly go. "In hane vel illam aeternitatem", says Saint Ambrose, "cadam, necesse est". "Into This or That Eternity, I must Fall".

And where the Soul shall First (1st) go, there She shall Remain Forever (∞). "If the Tree Fall to the South, or to the North, in what place soever it shall Fall, there shall it Be" - Ecclesiastes 11:3. On what Side does a Tree Fall, when it is Cut-down? It Falls on the Side, to-which it Inclines. On what Side, Brethren, will you Fall, when Death shall Cut-down the Tree-of your Life? You will Fall-on the Side, to-which you Incline. If you shall be Found, Inclining-to the South - that is, in Favor-with God - you shall be Forever (∞) Happy; but, if you Fall-to the North, you must be Forever (∞) Miserable. There is no Middle Place; you must be Forever (∞) Happy, in Heaven, or Overwhelmed-with Despair, in Hell. We must all Die, says Saint Bernard, or some other Author, but we Know not which-of the Two (2) Eternities (∞) shall be our Lot, after Death. "Necesse more, post haec autem dubia aeternitas".

This Uncertainty-about our Lot-for Eternity (∞), was the Constant Subject-of the Thoughts-of David; it Deprived his Eyes-of Sleep, and kept him always, in Terror. "My Eyes prevented the Watches: I was Troubled, and I Spoke not. I Thought upon the Days of Old: and I had in my Mind the Eternal Years" - Psalm 76:5-6. What, says Saint Cyprian, has Encouraged the Saints to Lead a Life, which, on-account-of their Continual Austerities, was an Uninterrupted Martyrdom? It was, he answers, the Thought-of Eternity (∞) that Inspired them with Courage, to Submit-to such Unceasing (∞) Rigors. A certain Monk, shut himself in a Cave, and did Nothing else than Constantly Exclaim: O Eternity! O Eternity! The Famous Sinner, Converted-by the Abbot Paphnutius, kept Eternity (∞) always-before her Eyes, and was accustomed-to say: Who can Assure me of a Happy Eternity, and that I will not Fall into a Miserable Eternity? The same Uncertainty, kept Saint Andrew Avellino, in Continual Terrors and Tears, till his Last Breath. Hence he used to ask everyone he met: What do you say? Shall I be Saved or Damned for Eternity?

Oh! that we too had Eternity (∞) always before our Eyes! We certainly should not be so-much Attached-to the World. "Quisquis in aeternitatis desiderio figitur, nec prosperitate attollitur, nec adversitate quassatur; et dum nihil habet in mundo quod appetat, nihil est quod de mundo pertimescat". He who Fixes his Thoughts on Eternity (∞), is not Elated-by Prosperity, nor Dejected-by Adversity; because, having Nothing to Desire-in this World, he has Nothing to Fear; he Desires only a Happy Eternity (∞), and Fears only a Miserable Eternity (∞). A certain Lady, who was Greatly Attached-to the World, went one Day to Confession, to Father M. D'Avila. He bid her go-Home, and Reflect-on these Two (2) Words - Always and Never. She Obeyed, took-away her Affections-from the World, and Consecrated them to God. Saint Augustine says, that the Man who Thinks-on Eternity (∞), and is not Converted to God, either has no Faith, or has Lost his Reason. "O aeternitas! qui te cogitat, nec poenitet, aut certo fidem non habet, aut si habet, cor non habet". O Eternity (∞)! he who Thinks-on thee, and does not Repent, has certainly no Faith, or has Lost his Heart. Hence, Saint Chrysostom relates, that the Pagans Upbraided the Christians with being Liars and Fools; Liars, if they said they Believed, what they did not Believe; Fools, if they Believed-in Eternity (∞), and Committed Sin. "Exprobabant gentiles aut mendaces, aut stultos esse Christianos; mendaces si non crederent quod credere dicebant; stultos si credebant et peccabant".

"Jesus has the Keys of Death, and of Hell (Limbo)"

Wo to Sinners, says Saint Cesarius of Arles; they enter-into Eternity (∞), without having Known it; but their Woes shall be Doubled, when they shall have Entered-into Eternity (∞), and shall never be Able-to Leave it. "Vae peccatoribus, incognitam ingrediuntur". To those who enter Hell, the Door Opens-for their Admission, but never-opens for their Departure. "I am Living Forever and Ever, and have the Keys of Death and of Hell" - Revelation 1:18. God Himself keeps the Keys-of Hell, to show us that whosoever Enters, has no Hope-of ever Escaping from it. Saint John Chrysostom writes, that the Condemnation of the Reprobate is Engraved-on the Pillar-of Eternity (∞), so that it never shall be Revoked. In Hell there is no Calendar; there the Years are not Counted. Saint Antonine says, that if a Damned Soul heard that She was to be Released-from Hell after so many Millions-of-Years, as there are Drops-of Water in the Sea, or Grains-of Sand in the Earth, She would feel Greater Joy than a Criminal, Condemned-to Death would Experience, at Hearing that he was Reprieved, and was to be made the Monarch-of the Whole World. But no; as many Millions-of-Years shall Pass-away, as there are Drops-of Water in the Ocean, or Grains-of Dust in the Earth, and the Hell-of the Damned shall be at its Commencement. All these Millions-of-Years shall be Multiplied an Infinite (∞) Number-of Times, and Hell will Begin-again. But of what use is it, says Saint Hilary, to Count Years, in Eternity (∞)? Where you Expect the End, there it Commences. "Ubi putas finem invenire, ibi incipit". And Saint Augustine says, that "Things which have an End, cannot be compared-with Eternity". Each of the Damned would be Content-to make this Compact-with God: Lord, Increase my Torments as much as Thou Pleasest; Assign a Term for them as Distant-as Thou Pleasest; provided Thou Fix a Time at which they shall Cease, I am Satisfied. But No; this Time shall never Arrive. "My End", the Damned shall say, "is Perished" - Lamentations 3:18. Then, is there no End-to the Torments of the Damned? No!; the Trumpet-of Divine Justice, Sounds-in the Caverns-of Hell, and Continually-reminds the Reprobate, that theirHell shall be Eternal (∞), and shall never have an End.

In comparison-to Hell, those who Suffer the Fires-of Purgatory, are Joyful-in the Knowledge that their Purging, will soon End, and they will spend Eternity with God. Purgatory is an Ante-Chamber to Heaven.

If Hell were not Eternal (∞), it would not be so Frightful a Chastisement. Thomas Kempis says, that "Everything which Passes with Time, is Trifling and Short". Any Pain which has an End, is not very Appalling. The Man who Labors under an Imposthume or Cancer, must Submit-to the 'Knife', or the 'Cautery'; the Pain is Severe, but because it is Soon-over, it can be 'Borne'. But a Toothache, which Lasts-for Three (3) Months without Interruption, is 'Insupportable'. Were a Person, Obliged-to Lie-in the same Posture, for Six (6) Months on a Soft Bed, or even to Hear the same-Music, or the same-Comedy, Night-and-Day for One (1) Year, he would Fall-into Melancholy and Despondency. Poor Blind Sinners! When Threatened with Hell, they say: If I go there, I must have Patience. But, they shall not Say-so, when they will have Entered that Region-of Woes, where they must Suffer, not by Listening-to the same-Music or the same-Comedy, nor by Lying-in the same-Posture, or by Toothache, but by Enduring all-Torments and all-Evils. "I will Heap Evils upon them" - Deuteronomy 32:23. And all these Torments shall never End.

They shall never End, and shall never be Diminished-in the Smallest Degree. The Damned must Forever (∞) Suffer:

the same-Fire,
the same-Privation-of God,
the same-Sadness, and
the same-Despair.

Yes, says Saint Cyprian, in Eternity (∞) there is no Change, because the Decree is 'Immutable'. This Thought shall Immensely Increase their Sufferings, by making them feel Beforehand, and at each-Moment, all that they shall have to Suffer for Eternity (∞). In his Description-of the Happiness-of the Saints, and the Misery-of the Reprobate, the Prophet Daniel says, "Those that Sleep in the Dust of the Earth, shall Awake: some unto Life Everlasting, and others unto Reproach, to see it always" - Daniel 12:2. They shall always see their Unhappy Eternity (∞). Ut videant semper. Thus, Eternity (∞) Tortures each-of the Damned, not only by his Present Pains, but with all his Future Sufferings, which are Eternal (∞).

These are not 'Opinions', Controverted-among Theologians; they are 'Dogmas-of Faith', clearly Revealed-in the Sacred Scriptures. "Depart from Me, you Cursed, into Everlasting Fire which was Prepared for the Devil and his Angels" - Matthew 25:41. Some will say: The Fire, but not the Punishment of the Damned, is Everlasting. Such, the Language-of the Incredulous, but it is a Folly. For what other Purpose would God make this Fire Eternal (∞), than to Chastise the Reprobate, who are Immortal (∞)? But, to take-away every Shadow-of Doubt, the Scriptures, in many other places, say, that not only the Fire, but the Punishment of the Damned, is Eternal (∞). "And these", says Jesus Christ, "shall go into Everlasting Punishment: but the Just, into Life Everlasting" - Matthew 25:46. Again we Read-in Saint Mark, "Where there, Worm Dieth not, and the Fire is not Extinguished" - Mark 9:43. Saint John says: "And the Smoke of their Torments shall Ascend up, Forever and Ever" - Revelation 14:11. "Who", says Saint Paul, "shall Suffer Eternal Punishment in Destruction" - 2Thessalonians 1:9.

Another Infidel will ask: How can God Justly Punish with Eternal Torments, a Sin that Lasts but a Moment? I answer, that the Grievousness of a Crime is Measured not by its Duration, but by the Enormity-of its Malice. The Malice-of Mortal Sin is, as Saint Thomas says, Infinite (∞) - Summa Theologica. Hence, the Damned deserve Infinite (∞) Punishment; and because a Creature is not Capable-of Suffering Pains, Infinite (∞) in Point-of Intensity, God, as the Holy Doctor says, Renders the Punishment-of the Damned, Infinite (∞) in-Extension, by Making it Eternal (∞). Moreover, it is Just, that as-long-as a Sinner Remains-in his Sin, the Punishment that he Deserves, should Continue. And therefore, as the Virtue-of the Saints, is Rewarded-in Heaven, because it Lasts Forever (∞); so also the Guilt-of the Damned in Hell, because it is Everlasting (∞), shall be Chastised-with Everlasting (∞) Torments. "Quia non recipit causae remedium", says Eusebius Emissenus, "carebit fine supplicium". The Cause-of their Perverse Will continues; therefore their Chastisement shall never have an End. The Damned are so Obstinate-in their Sins, that even if God Offered Pardon, their Hatred-of Him would make them Refuse it. The Prophet Jeremiah, Speaking-in the Name-of the Reprobate, says, "Why is my Sorrow become Perpetual, and my Wound Desperate, so as to Refuse to be Healed?" - Jeremiah 15:18. My Wound, they say, is Incurable, because I do not Wish it to be Healed. Now, how can God Heal the Wound-of their Perverse Will, when they would Refuse the Remedy, were it Offered-to them? Hence, the Punishment-of the Reprobate is called a Sword, a Vengeance which is Irrevocable. "I the Lord have Drawn My Sword out of its Sheath, not to be Turned-back" - Ezekiel 21:5.

Death, which is so Terrible in this Life, is Desired-in Hell, by the Damned; but they Never shall Find it. "And in those Days, Men shall seek Death, and shall not find it; and they shall Desire to Die, and Death shall Fly-from them" - Revelation 9:6. They would Wish, as a Remedy-for their Eternal (∞) Ruin, to be Exterminated and Destroyed. But, "there is no Poison of Destruction in them" - Wisdom 1:14. If a Man, Condemned-to Die, be not Deprived-of Life, by the First (1st) Stroke-of the Axe, his Torture moves the People-to Pity. Miserable Damned Souls! They Live-in Continual Death, in the Midst-of the Pains-of Hell; Death Excites-in them, all the Agony-of Death, but does not Give them a Remedy, by Taking-away Life. "Prima mors", says Saint Augustine, "animam nolentem pellit de corpore, secunda mors nolentem tenet in corpore". The First (1st) Death, Expels-from the Body, the Soul of a Sinner, who is Unwilling-to Die; but the Second (2nd) Death - that is Eternal (∞) Death - Retains-in the Body, a Soul that Wishes-to Die. "They are Laid in Hell like Sheep: Death shall Feed-upon them" - Psalm 48:15. In Feeding, Sheep eat the Blades-of Grass, but Leave the Root Untouched; hence, the Grass Dies-not, but Grows-up again. It is thus, that Death Treats the Damned; it Torments them with Pain, but Spares their Life, which may be called the Root-of Suffering.

But, if these Miserable Souls have no-chance of Release-from Hell, perhaps they can at-least 'Deceive' or 'Flatter' themselves, with the Hope that God, may One Day be Moved-to Pity, and Free them from their Torments? No!; in Hell there is no Delusion, no Flattery, no Perhaps; the Damned are as-certain-as they are of God's Existence, that their Hell shall have no End. "Thou thoughtest Unjustly that I should be Like to thee: but I will Reprove thee, and Set before thy Face" - Psalm 49:21. They shall Forever (∞) See-before their Eyes, their Sins and the Sentence-of their Eternal (∞) Condemnation. "And I Set before thy Face".

Let us Conclude. Thus, Most Beloved Brethren, the Affair-of our Eternal (∞) Salvation should be the Sole Object of all our Concerns. "The Business for which we Struggle", says Saint Eucherius, "is Eternity". There is Question-of Eternity (∞); there is Question whether we will be Saved, and be Forever (∞) Happy in a City-of-Delights; or be Damned, and Confined-for Eternity (∞) in a Pit-of-Fire. This is not an Affair-of Little Importance; it is of the Utmost, and of Eternal (∞) Importance, to us. When Thomas More was Condemned-to Death by Henry-the-Eighth, his Wife Louisa went-to him, for the Purpose-of Tempting him to Obey the Royal Command. Tell me, Louisa, replied the Holy Man, how many Years can I, who am now so Old, expect-to Live? You might, said she, Live-for Twenty (20) Years. O Foolish Woman! he exclaimed, do you Want me to Condemn my Soul to an Eternity (∞) of Torments, for Twenty (20) Years of Life?

O God! Christians believe-in the existence-of Hell, and commit Sin! Dearly Beloved Brethren, let not us also be Fools, like so many who are now Weeping-in Hell. Miserable Beings! What Benefit do they now Derive-from all the Pleasures which they Enjoyed-in this Life? Speaking-of the Rich and of the Poor, Saint John Chrysostom said, "O Unhappy Felicity, which has Drawn the Rich to Eternal Infelicity! O Happy Infelicity, which has Brought the Poor to the Felicity of Eternity!" The Saints have Buried themselves Alive in this Life, that, after Death, they may not find themselves Buried-in Hell for an Eternity (∞). If Eternity (∞) were a Doubtful-Matter, we ought even-then, to-make every-Effort in our Power, to Escape an Eternity (∞) of Torments; but no, it is not a Matter-of Doubt, it is a Truth-of Faith, that after this Life, each of us must go-into Eternity (∞), to be Forever (∞) in-Glory, or Forever (∞) in- Despair. Saint Teresa says, that it is through a Want-of Faith that so many Christians are Lost. As-often-as we say the Words-of the Creed, Life Everlasting, let us Enliven our Faith, and Remember that there is another-Life which never Ends; and let us Adopt all the Means Necessary-to Secure a Happy Eternity (∞). Let us do-all, and give-up-all; if Necessary, let us Leave the World, in-order-to Secure Eternal (∞) Happiness. When Eternity (∞) is at Stake, no-Security can be too-Great. "Nulla nimia securitas", says Saint Bernard, "ubi periclitatur aeternitas".


- End of Liguori Sermon -


Prayer for the Graces Necessary for Salvation

Eternal Father, Your Son has Promised that You will Grant us all the Graces which we ask for in His Name. In the Name and Merits of Jesus Christ, I ask the following Graces for myself and for all Mankind. Please give me a Lively Faith in all that the Church Teaches. Enlighten me, that I may know the Vanity of the Goods of this World, and the Immensity of the Infinite Good that You are. Make me also see the Deformity of the Sins I have Committed, that I may Humble myself and Detest them as I should.

Give me a Firm Confidence of Receiving Pardon for my Sins, Holy Perseverance, and the Glory of Heaven, through the Merits of Jesus Christ, and the Intercession of Mary. Give me a Great Love for You, that will Detach me from the Love of this World, and of myself, so that I may Love none other, but You.

I Beg of You a Perfect Resignation to Your Will. I Offer myself entirely to You, that You might do with me, and all that belongs to me, as You Please.

I Beg of You a Great Sorrow for my Sins.

I ask You to give me the Spirit of True Humility and Meekness, that I may Accept with Peace, and even with Joy, all the Contempt, Ingratitude and Ill-treatment I may receive. At the same time, I also ask You to give me Perfect Charity, which shall make me wish well to those who have done Evil to me.

Give me Love for the Virtue of Mortification, by which I may Chastise my Rebellious Senses and oppose my Self-Love. Give me a Great Confidence in the Passion of Jesus Christ and in the Intercession of Mary Immaculate. Give me a Great Love for the Blessed Sacrament, and a Tender Devotion and Love to Your Holy Mother. Give me, above all, Holy Perseverance, and the Grace always to Pray for it, especially in Time-of Temptation, and at the Hour-of Death.

Finally, I recommend to You the Holy Souls of Purgatory, my Relatives and Benefactors, and in a special manner I recommend to You all those who Hate me or who have in any way Offended me; I Beg You to Render them Good, for the Evil they have done or may wish to do me. Grant that, by Your Goodness, I may come One Day to sing Your Mercies in Heaven; for my Hope is in the Merits of Your Blood and in the Patronage of Mary. Mary, Mother of God, Pray to Jesus for me.



Ancient Miraculous Prayer to Saint Joseph
Patron of Departing Souls

This Prayer was found in the Fiftieth Year of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In 1505 it was sent from the Pope to Emperor Charles, when he was going into Battle. Whoever shall Read this Prayer, or Hear it, or Keep it about themselves, shall never Die a Sudden Death, or be Drowned, nor shall Poison take-effect on them; neither shall they Fall into the Hands of the Enemy, nor shall they be Burned in any Fire, nor shall they be Overpowered in Battle.

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O Saint Joseph, whose Protection is so Great, so Strong, so Prompt before the Throne of God, I Place in you, all my Interests and Desires.

O Saint Joseph, do Assist me by your Powerful Intercession, and Obtain for me from your Divine Son, all Spiritual Blessings through Jesus Christ, Our Lord; so that having Engaged here below your Heavenly Power, I may Offer my Thanksgiving and Homage to the most Loving of Fathers.

O Saint Joseph, I never Weary Contemplating you and Jesus Asleep in your Arms; I dare not approach while He Reposes near your Heart. Press Him in my name and Kiss His Fine Head for me, and ask Him to Return the Kiss when I Draw my Dying Breath, Saint Joseph, Patron of Departing Souls, Pray for us.


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Many Miracles have been attributed to this Daily Prayer.
Make this Prayer known everywhere . . .


Consecration to God thru Mary