What is Hell?

A question from a man up late one night wondering:

It seems that if one can know something he can also from that, arrive at its opposite – what it is not. If we can not know Heaven, can we know Hell? Divine Revelation gives a nice lot of imagery: Fire, darkness, etc. and if the greatest joy of Heaven is of the soul in the Beatific Vision, the primary suffering in Hell would be the deprivation of It. But we don’t know what ‘It’ is.

Why I am wondering what Hell is like, I do not know. It is known that if I knew the smallest bit, I would wish that I didn’t, and also I am left confused about the fact that people do indeed choose to be there.

On a somewhat smaller scale, I have chosen against good sense, to be up far past a relatively decent hour. Similar problem, smaller matter?

My response:

Continue reading “What is Hell?”
Share Button

Buckets, beads, and the Imago Dei

The night before last, Matthew got the dreaded Cortisol Dump. According to the books, babies have a natural window within which they need to go to bed, and if they don’t then their system drops a half-pint of stimulant into their bloodstream—no doubt a survival mechanism left over from an era when infants killed off their parents at an early age and ruled the earth.

pac_man_energy_drinkWe saw it coming a long way off. Matthew didn’t sleep well the night before that, which meant that his morning nap came too early, which meant that his afternoon nap came too early, which meant that he took an early evening nap, which meant that he stayed awake through the Magic Window and got the Dump. (I imagine the sound was like when Pac-Man eats an energy pill.)

The downside was that I was tired all yesterday and marked almost nothing off of my to-do list. The upside was that I played games with Matthew all alone until after eleven o’clock, and I was privileged to see exactly where he is: Continue reading “Buckets, beads, and the Imago Dei”

Share Button

One less reason to dislike Thomas More

In his good piece on the “Escriva Option,” Austin Ruse mentions that he dislikes St. Thomas More:

I am reminded of one of the reasons I do not care for St. Thomas More (heretical, I know). More longed to have been a Carthusian, who are tougher even than the Trappists, and he imposed Carthusian practices on his family including, cruelly I think, interrupting their sleep at 1 a.m. to chant the Night Office. Such a thing is not natural for someone in the lay state.

His point is well taken, but his view of More may be mistaken.  We tend to interpret such things through the lens of our own sleep customs, forgetting that sleep worked very differently before about the year 1800. Before the advent of artificial lighting, people slept in two segments.  They would sleep for a while, get up for a while in the middle of the night to do this and that, and then sleep for a long time again.  So the middle of the night was a common time for story telling, love making, prayer, and so on and so forth.  Wikipedia lists some of the studies on this; another helpful presentation is here.

Notice that the custom of prayer in the middle of the night has almost died out even in monasteries.  The reason we lay people find it strange to get up and pray at 1:00 a.m. these days is not that we’re lay people, but that we live in these days.  St. Thomas More was not being cruel; he was not even being unusual.

Share Button