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I just read this quote about the Divine Mercy, and I thought it was really interesting from an Eastern Christian perspective:

“Great love can change small things into great ones, and it is only love which lends value to our actions.  And the purer our love becomes, the less there will be within us for the flames of suffering to feed upon, and the suffering will cease to be a suffering for us; it will become a delight!  By the grace of God, I have received such a disposition of heart that I am never so happy as when I suffer for Jesus, whom I love with every beat of my heart.”

There is an Eastern theological opinion that heaven and hell are not places to which people go, but that the place is the same for the both, and the experience of it as heaven or hell is dependent upon one's love for God.  I have always thought that was a preferable understanding to the idea that hell is a punishment from God for being disobedient.  But I think this quote makes it even more interesting, in that if you look at the two in the same context, it suggests that the presence of God itself isn't even something that causes us suffering inherently for those who don't love him, but that hell itself *is* heaven when one completely trusts and loves God.  I can't fully put the thought to words, but it's so crystal clear in my head.  But I think where I'm going with it is I've always thought of the Eastern view as being the presence of God is either joy or suffering depending on our disposition relative to God, but it isn't even that.  Rather, it's that even what is horrendous torment intrinsically, is made sweet and light in the presence of God.  Even that doesn't do what I'm thinking justice, but it's moving in that direction.  Just thought I'd share for anyone who might find that helpful.
                                                        Interestingly enough, I ended participating in the Divine Mercy Chaplet at an Eastern Catholic church today.
The teaching that hell is how sinners experience God's love is Eastern Orthodox. Has the Catholic Church ever approved this view?
A stunning crowd estimated at 100,000 joined in a weekend of Divine Mercy devotions at a shrine in El Salvador this weekend.

The Divine Mercy Hills shrine in Misamis Oriental, in El Salvador City, was crowded throughout the weekend for the 2-day event. Police deployed special units along the national highway to ease traffic congestion for the weekend.

http://www.catholicculture.org/news/head...ryid=31378
(04-24-2017, 06:08 AM)MichaelNZ Wrote: [ -> ]The teaching that hell is how sinners experience God's love is Eastern Orthodox. Has the Catholic Church ever approved this view?

Not explicitly, as far as I am aware, but I would argue it is tacit. Having said that, some Orthodox seem to want to use such language exclusively, in a way that I think is overly theological in comparison to Scripture's rather straightforward admonitions. Yes, we can say in theology that God doesn't technically experience the emotion of wrath. However, there is something to which wrath is analogous in the relationship between a sinner and God's justice. So we speak of God's wrath. I think that is appropriate; I think our ordinary language ought not try to be more sophisticated than scripture. When we talk advanced theology, then we can get more technical.
(04-24-2017, 06:08 AM)MichaelNZ Wrote: [ -> ]The teaching that hell is how sinners experience God's love is Eastern Orthodox. Has the Catholic Church ever approved this view?

It is actually most explicitly taught by St. Isaac the Syrian; he was a member of what is now called the Assyrian Church of the East (Nestorians, to be inaccurate). The Orthodox interestingly recognize him as a saint; he is also honored among the Chaldean Catholics, so he's also ours in a way. Sort of similar to St. Gregory of Narek - not technically in communion with Rome, but more by dint of geography than theology.
(04-25-2017, 07:21 AM)delsydebothom Wrote: [ -> ]
(04-24-2017, 06:08 AM)MichaelNZ Wrote: [ -> ]The teaching that hell is how sinners experience God's love is Eastern Orthodox. Has the Catholic Church ever approved this view?

Not explicitly, as far as I am aware, but I would argue it is tacit. Having said that, some Orthodox seem to want to use such language exclusively, in a way that I think is overly theological in comparison to Scripture's rather straightforward admonitions. Yes, we can say in theology that God doesn't technically experience the emotion of wrath. However, there is something to which wrath is analogous in the relationship between a sinner and God's justice. So we speak of God's wrath. I think that is appropriate; I think our ordinary language ought not try to be more sophisticated than scripture. When we talk advanced theology, then we can get more technical.

This is important. However the theologians want to reconcile a loving and just God with Hell, it doesn't really change our marching orders: avoid Hell at all costs and help spread God's Kingdom in there here and now, too!
(04-24-2017, 06:08 AM)MichaelNZ Wrote: [ -> ]The teaching that hell is how sinners experience God's love is Eastern Orthodox. Has the Catholic Church ever approved this view?

Fire of Love in Purgatory:

St. John of the Cross (my paraphrase): "the fire of Purgatory is God's Love purifying our soul in preparation for the final beatific vision". This is substantiated in Scripture and Tradition.


Fire of Love in Heaven:

- "Above him were seraphim, each with six wings" [Isaiah 6:2, referenced in Revelation 4:8] The etymology of the word traces back to  שְׂרָפִים (s'rafím) which is rooted in  שרף "to burn".
- Aquinas writes: "The name "Seraphim" comes from the excess of charity, expressed by the word ardor or fire. Hence Dionysius (Coel. Hier. vii) expounds the name "Seraphim" according to the properties of fire..." (Prima Pars, Q. 108).
- Jerome writes to Pope Damasus: "The word seraphim means either 'glow' or 'beginning of speech'... 'Did not our heart burn within us,' said the disciples, 'while he opened to us the Scriptures?'"

John the Baptist affirms Christ will baptize "with the Holy Spirit and fire", and the Holy Spirit manifests Himself at Pentecost as "what seemed to be tongues of fire". Christ even openly states: "I have come to bring fire on earth, and I wish it were already burning!"


Is hell how sinners experience God's love?

Why condemn that the "fire" that fallen angels and damned souls experience in what we term "hell" is anything other than God's love, experienced not in a purgative or ecstatic way, but rather in a painful way?
- St. John teaches that "God is love" [1 John 4:8]
- St. Paul teaches that "our God is a consuming fire" [Heb 12:29].
- Aquinas reminds us that the fires of hell are "inextinguishable" .
- Dogma teaches us that God is present everywhere: he is the Immense and the Omnipresent.
- Dogma teaches us that Hell is not a physical place, but "the  state of eternal self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed".

Furthermore:
- Aquinas reminds us that "Creatures came into existence when the key of love opened his hand", and that " Both reason and faith bind us to say that creatures are kept in being by God. "
- Dogma teaches us that God upholds and sustains Creation - including fallen angels and damned souls. This the Church shows by quoting Wisdom:

Quote: "For you love all things that exist, and detest none of the things that you have made; for you would not have made anything if you had hated it. How would anything have endured, if you had not willed it? Or how would anything not called forth by you have been preserved? You spare all things, for they are yours, O Lord, you who love the living."

It follows that the "fire" the souls and spirits experience in the state of Hell is a consequence of the eternal rejection and yet permanence in the divine  Love (which are one and the same), which keeps them in existence and which they have rejected.

Demonologist and Doctor of Theology Fr. Fortea writes that

Quote:"God is present even in hell. There is no place (or being) in which God is not present. God, the Creator of all things, maintains everything in existence and knows everything from all eternity.

So demons are not freed from the presence of God even in hell. No matter how far a demon wants to draw away from God, he will always be condemned to be in the presence of God.

Even though God is in hell, the demons do not directly perceive His presence. On the contrary, they feel totally distanced from Him. God permits them to have this sensation so as not to torment them.

Nevertheless, there is no place or being that can be outside the reach, sight, or power (i.e., the presence) of God."

This is in line with Aquinas' teaching that the "fires" of Purgatory and Hell differ in that the fire of Purgatory "purifies and cleanses" the soul while the fire of Hell "tortures" the soul. Furthermore, the fire of Purgatory does not have per se a cleansing effect, but rather, it is experienced by cooperation of the Church Penitent with the Divine. Hence the fire of Hell is experienced by rejection of the Divine by the Damned. If the damned were entirely unaware of God's love, which alone matters, and of their eternal separation from the enjoyment of said Love, they would be utterly indifferent rather than in "weeping and gnashing of teeth".

Not everything Orthodox is heretical. Much of the Orthodox theology is perfectly sound, just worded differently than the one of the Latin Church. The Church doesn't have to "approve" everything that is true. Usually the contrary happens - she points out what's erroneous.
That's a lovely post, Macarius. No pun intended! Smile