Thursday, 8 May 2014


Diarmuid Martin

Recently Diarmuid Martin - the RC Archbishop of Dublin - answered the question: "Is there a Hell" like a politician. Firstly he tried to ignore the question and when the interviewer pinned him down he said he believed in the "POSSIBILITY" of Hell!

For those of us who are trying to be Christians the most important words about Hell were spoken by Jesus. He said:

Jesus told the story of a rich man and a poor man, and the rich man ended up in Hell, describing it as a place of torment (Luke 16:22-28). The rich man actually cried out in Hell: ". . .I am tormented in this  flame" (Luke 16:24). 
The Son of Man will send his angels. and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and they will throw them into a furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father (Matthew 13:41-43). "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats....And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life" (Matthew 25:31-46).
The man in Luke 16:24 cries: ". . .I am tormented in this  flame."
In Matthew 13:42, Jesus says: "And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth."
In Matthew 25:41, Jesus says: "Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire . . ."
In Mark 9:46, Jesus speaks about Hell: "Where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched."
Revelation 20:15 says, "And whoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire."
So it seems to me that Jesus was pretty up front about the fact that there is a Hell.

I think the truth is that no one knows or can imagine what Hell is like - just as no one knows or can imagine what Heaven is like. Again Jesus said:

"Eye has not seen, nor has ear heard".

I think the old images of a physical fire and all kinds of screaming, shouting and writhing are all from the human imagination.

I think a good place to start with is the question: "What makes life in this world Hell"? Personally I can ask: "What would make my life Hell"?

The things that would make my life like Hell would be:

1. Crippling anxiety, depression, fear, negativity and panic.
2.  No one to love and no one to love me.
3. My life having no meaning or purpose.
4. Not having faith in God and not trusting even one human being.
5. Not being able to recognise beauty in any place or any thing.
6. Having no principles or ethics and not having any cause to give my life to.
7. Addiction to something or someone that controlled my whole life.
8. Living with someone I felt hostile towards or with someone who was hostile to me. 
9. Nor been able to experience simple and sublime pleasure.
10. Having a crippling fear of sickness, weakness, humiliation or death.

So for me I think that Hell would be one or all of the above magnified by a thousand, a million or a billion.

In sermons on Heaven and Hell I have often told the story of a man who died and went before God - who announced to him that he was going to be admitted to Heaven but being offered a chance by God to have a brief glimpse of Hell first.

When the doors of Hell opened they opened into a palatial marble dining hall with every kind of good and drink on a magnificent table in the centre of the hall. The only problem that all the people there had to eat only with chopsticks. As they tried to get the food to their mouths the food fell off the chopsticks and on to the floor. So everybody in Hell was starving.

When the man went on then to Heaven and when the doors were opened there was a similiar hall with a similiar table with fine foods and again the people had to eact with chop sticks. The only difference was that everyone was well fed and happy.


So it seems that Hell is simply ETERNAL SELFISHNESS.

While Heaven is ETERNAL LOVE.


I should like a great lake of beer to give to God.
I should like the angels of Heaven to be tippling there for all eternity.
I should like the men of Heaven to live with me, to dance and sing.
If they wanted I’d put at their disposal vats of suffering
White cups of love I’d give them with a heart and a half.
Sweet pitchers of mercy I’d offer to every man.
I’d make heaven a cheerful spot,
Because the happy heart is true.
I’d make men happy for their own sakes.
I should like Jesus to be there too.
I’d like the people of heaven to gather from all the parishes around.
I’d give a special welcome to the women,
the three Marys of great renown.
I’d sit with the men, the women of God,
There by the great lake of beer
We’d be drinking good health forever,
And every drop would be a prayer.

+Pat Buckley


  1. Bishop Pat,

    Well balanced and spiritually focused few thoughts on eternity.

    Pastor - NYC

  2. Old Bishop Dominic Conway(RIP) gave me a ticking off for saying that the fires of hell are an analogy because there is no oxygen or fuel or matches in hell to start the fire. He said the people would not understand. I took this as an insult to the intellegence of the people of Sligo. Hell is real and it happens as a result of bad choices made by the world, communities and individuals. I see hell most days when I work with those addicted to alcohol. I can advise, signpost put never control the head of the person I am working with. Hell is believing that catholic and protestant christianities are fundamentaly different religious beliefs. Heaven & Hell are states of mind. Because we are created free thinking entities this reality remains with us in this world and the next. Sean

  3. I've ticked the "funny" box, albeit that's not best description. On that point perhaps so few bother indicating there because of the limited options. I'd find "agree/disagree" and the like more useful.
    So while funny isn't best description, it's nearest to my perception of the idiocy of clergymen continuing to exercise power by quoting selected texts from writings about which even theologians disagree, and which were originally only "pulled together" (into what became known as the bible), at behest of Constantine, first Xn Roman emperor. Even then the early Xn church fathers couldn't agree until Constantine ordered/persuaded them with money.
    So I laugh wryly, while shaking my head in disbelief, at the whole man made concept of hell, and its continuing misuse by those with vested interest in perpetuating the myth.
    The reality is that we all face, and many fear, the certainty of death and disapearance together with all the knowledge and experiences of our life. So the whole concept of heaven and hell is held onto by many, and is a fuel to the whole religion industry.
    Hell? I really have to laugh!

  4. What the hell are you talking about fella/ Are you also saying God is a moneymaking tool? That said many do make money from religion. Watch the sky channels Sean

  5. I think my indication of my perceptions and belief are reasonably clear Sean, and others are equally entitled to theirs.
    As a former Latin teacher used to say, if I remember it correctly from early 60's, "de gustibus non disputandum (est)."
    Best regards.

    1. Im afraid I missed the ...bus on your quotation. I know that images of hell were used to frighten the "bejasus" out of folk. I never used this tactic. Reality and choice and consequences are what they are in this life and in the next. I do not wish to take the p out of your comments and treat them with respect. Sean

  6. I would say he is living HELL. A dysfunctional man living in a dysfunctional Church!!

    HELL or what!


  7. It's interesting to see that other than Sean's comment, no other comments dispute the core content of my earlier post, namely, that hell is simply a human generated concept with no objective proof of its reality/existence. Those who seek to prove its existence rely on highly selective ancient scriptures which of themselves are subject to much dispute concerning relevance, origins and interpretation. Catholics, especially and traditionally the Irish species, in the past have been indoctrinated, albeit in good faith and well intentioned, from the cradle, not to question received wisdom and knowledge, especially from the clergy.
    This recurrent background combines with natural instinctive fear of the void of death to perpetuate the "drowning man's straw" hopes/beliefs of an afterlife.
    So if there's somewhere "good" to go to, the reverse (hell) must await also........?
    So c'mon you unquestioning believers: what's your proof of an afterlife on which religion seems so reliant. And some objectivity please, not just beliefs.
    My grandchildren at 10 & 8, are still searching for leprechauns.

  8. What, ........? After almost a week, no comments, proof, disagreement!
    Would almost make a sceptic (of my view) believe there is no proof.