Stories & Legends
The Road to Hell - II
How to Avoid Hell: Obedience & Frequenting the Sacraments
St. John Bosco
This is one article more in the series on the dream of St. John Bosco about Hell. It is the second installment The first can be read here. TIA
We continued our descent, the road now becoming so frightfully steep that it was almost impossible to stand erect.
And then, at the bottom of this precipice, at the entrance of a dark valley, an enormous building loomed into sight, its towering portal, securely locked, facing our road. When we finally reached the bottom, I became smothered by a suffocating heat, and I could see a dense, green-tinted smoke lit by flashes of scarlet flames rising from behind those enormous walls which loomed higher than mountains.
"Where are we? What is this?" I asked my guide.
"Read the inscription on that portal and you will understand."
An Angel locking Hell: No one can leave it
I looked up and read these words: Ubi non est redemptio - The place where there is no redemption. I realized that we were at the gates of Hell.
The guide led me all around this horrible place. At regular distances bronze portals like the first overlooked precipitous descents; on each was an inscription, such as: "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, which was prepared for the Devil and his angels." (Mt 25: 41) "Every tree that yielded not good fruit, shall be cut down, and shall be cast into the fire." (Mt 7: 19)
I tried to copy them into my notebook, but my guide restrained me: "There is no need. You have them all in Holy Scripture. You even have some of them inscribed on your porticoes."
At such a sight, I wanted to turn back and return to the Oratory. As a matter of fact, I did try to start back, but my guide ignored my attempt.
After trudging down into a steep, never-ending ravine, we again came to the foot of the precipice facing the first portal. Suddenly the guide turned to me with a changed and startled face, pointing to something with his hand: "Look!" he said.
I looked up in terror and saw in the distance someone racing down the path at an uncontrollable speed. I kept my eyes on him, trying to identify him, and as he got closer, I recognized him as one of my boys. His disheveled hair was partly bristled and partly tossed back by the wind.
His arms were outstretched as though he were thrashing water to keep from going under. He wanted to stop, but could not. Tripping on the protruding stones, he kept falling even faster.
The guide pointed to the path ending at Hell
"Let us help him! Let us stop him!" I shouted, holding out my hands toward him.
"Let him go," the guide replied.
"Do you not know how terrible God's vengeance is? Do you think you can stop one who is fleeing from His blazing wrath?"
Meanwhile the youth had turned his fiery gaze behind him in an attempt to see if God's wrath were still pursuing him. He precipitated himself toward the bottom of the ravine and crashed against that bronze portal as though he could find no other solution in his flight.
"Why was he looking back in terror?" I asked.
"Because God's wrath pierces all the gates of Hell and will reach and torment him even amidst the fire!"
As the boy crashed into the portal, it sprang open with a roar of chains. Instantly two, then ten, then one hundred, then near a thousand inner portals opened with a deafening screech as if moved by the crash of the youth, who was dragged in by an invisible, very rapid and irresistible gale.
As these bronze doors - one behind the other, though each at a considerable distance from the other - remained momentarily open, I saw far into the distance something like furnace jaws spouting fiery globes at the moment the youth hurtled into it. As swiftly as the portals had opened, they then clanged shut again.
For a third time I tried to take notes, this time to write down the name of that unfortunate lad, but the guide again took me by the arm and said, "Wait, and look again."
I could see a new scene. Three other boys of ours precipitated themselves down the same path. Screaming in terror and with arms outstretched, they were rolling down it, one behind the other like massive rocks. I also recognized them as they too crashed against that first portal. It sprang open and so did the other thousand. The three lads were sucked into that endless corridor amidst a long-drawn, fading infernal echo, and then the portals clanged shut again. At intervals, many other lads came tumbling down after them.
Don Bosco with the boys of the Oratory
I saw one unfortunate boy being pushed down the slope by an evil companion. Others fell alone or with others, arm in arm or side by side. Each of them bore the name of his sin on his forehead. I kept calling to them as they hurtled down, but they did not hear me. Again the portals would open thunderously and slam shut with a rumble. Then, dead silence!
My guide explained to me: "These are some of the causes why many are eternally lost: Bad companions, bad books and bad habits."
The traps I had seen earlier were indeed dragging the boys to ruin. Seeing so many falling into perdition, I cried out disconsolately, "If so many of our boys end up this way, we are working in vain. How can we prevent such tragedies?"
My guide replied: "This is their present state and that is where they would go if they were to die now."
"Then, let me jot down their names so that I may warn them and put them back on the path to Heaven."
"Do you really believe that some of them would reform if you were to warn them? At first, your warning might impress them, but soon they will forget it, saying, 'It was just a dream,' and they will do worse things than before. Others, realizing they have been unmasked, will receive the Sacraments, but this will be neither spontaneous nor meritorious since they are not upright. Others will go to confession because of a momentary fear of Hell, but will still be attached to sin."
"Then is there no way to save these unfortunate lads? Please, advise me how they can be saved."
Here is the advice: "They have superiors; let them obey them. They have rules; let them observe them. They have the Sacraments; let them receive them."
From Memorias Biograficas de San Juan Bosco,
Vol. 9, pp. 166-181,
Posted July 14, 2012
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There is a Hell, and I Am in It
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One Unconfessed Sin...
Meditation on Hell
St. John Bosco
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