Theology by the Slice: Are the people in Hell content?
On November 5, the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology Newman Center hosted an event titled, “Theology by the Slice.” Students were able to ask a panel questions about the teachings and traditions of the Catholic faith. The following is one of the questions. The panel included Bishop Peter Muhich; Father Mark McCormick, Newman Center chaplain; Sister Christine Hernandez, SCTJM, chancellor; Sister Rachel Gosda, SCTJM, director of Faith Formation; Sr. Maria Belen Musgrove, SCTJM, religion teacher, RCCSS; Seminarian Robert Kinyon; and Michael Pauley, director of the South Dakota Catholic Conference.
Are the people in hell content?
Bishop Peter Muhich: No, they’re very miserable.
Then why would they choose to go to hell?
Bishop Peter Muhich: Because they were caught up in things that became false Gods for them to the point where it’s hard for us to understand, but they rejected God.
Now, it’s important to note that the church has an official list of saints — some of the people who are in heaven. We don’t have an official list for hell. We know the devil’s there and the rebellious angels, but the church does not say who. Even Judas, the church doesn’t teach that Judas is in hell. That’s God’s place to judge, not ours.
But if you’re separated from God for all eternity, which is what hell is, you can’t possibly be happy. God is the source of life and goodness and true happiness. So, if you reject that source, you’re going to be miserable.
But you chose to reject it and you’re a logical being, which all humans are. Why would you make that choice?
Bishop Peter Muhich: So, you can use a choice. You can make bad choices. You can decide with your own free will that you want to end your life, for example. Is that a good thing? I would say no, of course not.
You could do all kinds of things by your free will. We know that people in the scriptures through the generations were unfaithful to the covenants that God made with them. It ended up with their lives being disordered because of that. My question back to you then is can you be disordered and happy?
I would say Satan rebelled, right? He knew what it was like to be united with God, and he chose otherwise. He had his reason, of course. Angels are not illogical beings. So why would he make a choice that he’s unhappy with.
Bishop Peter Muhich: It’s mysterious. We call it the mystery of iniquity because it’s hard to understand how someone could, like Satan, reject God completely, but we know from Scripture in the teaching of the church, that he did. Through pride, he fell. We don’t know exactly. Many think he was the brightest of all the angels, and was so taken with his own abilities, that he couldn’t accept the fact that God would make us. And then in Jesus Christ become one of us, to rescue us, and he wouldn’t serve that plan. But again, it’s very mysterious.