Stories & Legends
The Road to Hell - IV
How Immodesty & Theft Lead to Hell
He led me away from that terrible place and we went through a corridor deeper down to another underground cavern. Over its entrance I read: Dabit Dominus omnipotens ignem et vermes in carnes eorum, ut urantur et sentiant usque in sempiternum. [The Lord Almighty will give fire, and worms into their flesh, so that they may burn and may feel forever - Judith 16: 21]
This is the fourth installment of dream of St. John Bosco on Hell. Click to read part I, part II and part III. TIA
Here I could see the terrible remorse of those who had been formed in our schools:
• The memory of each unforgiven sin and its just punishment;
• The thousands of means, many of them extraordinary, they had to convert to the Lord, persevere in the good and earn paradise;
• The memory of so many graces given by the Blessed Virgin that were ignored and the promises made to her that were not kept;
• The fact that they could have been saved by a small effort, and instead, now they are condemned forever!
• So many good intentions that were not kept!
Hell is indeed paved with good intentions, as the proverb says.
In that place I again saw those Oratory boys who I had seen before in the fiery furnace. Some are listening to me right now; others are former pupils or even strangers to me. I drew nearer to them and noticed that they were covered with worms and disgusting insects that gnawed and consumed their hearts, eyes, hands, legs and entire bodies, leaving them in such a miserable state that it defies description. Those unfortunate boys remained motionless and were a prey to every kind of torment without any possibility of avoiding them.
Hoping that they could see me and I might be able to speak with them or to hear a word from them, I drew even nearer but no one spoke or even looked at me. I asked my guide why, and he explained that the damned are totally deprived of freedom. Each must endure the full weight of God’s punishment, with no change whatsoever in his state.
He saw horrors in Hell that defy description
He added: “And now it is necessary for you to enter this fiery region you just have seen.”
“No, no!” I objected in terror. “Before going to Hell, one has to be judged, and I have not been judged yet. So I do not want to go to Hell!”
“Answer me,” he said, “what would you rather do: Visit Hell and save your boys, or stay outside and abandon them to their torments?”
For a moment I was struck speechless. Then, I answered: “I love my boys and wish to save them all, but isn't there some other way without going to that place?”
“Well,” he went on, “you still have time just as they do, provided you do all you can.”
My heart felt a great relief as I heard those words and instantly I said to myself: I don't mind how much work it takes if I can rescue these beloved sons of mine from such torments. “Come inside then,” my guide went on, “and observe a proof of the Goodness and Mercy of God, who uses a thousand means to induce your boys to penance and save them from everlasting death.”
Taking my hand, he led me into the cavern. As I stepped in, I found myself suddenly transported into a magnificent crystal hall. In the hall, at regular distances were large veils that covered other rooms that accessed the cavern.
Each cavern of Hell has punishments for different sins
The guide pointed to one of those veils over which was written: The Sixth Commandment, and he exclaimed: “Transgressions against this commandment caused the eternal ruin of many boys.”
“Did they not go to confession?”
“They did, but they either made a bad confession or purposely omitted the sins against the beautiful virtue of purity. For example, one said that he had committed such sins two or three times when it was four or five. Other boys who had fallen into that sin in their childhood were ashamed and never confessed it, or made a bad confession, or did not tell everything.
“Others did not have the sorrow for their sin or lacked the purpose to avoid it in the future. There were even some who, rather than examine their consciences, spent their time trying to figure out ways to deceive their confessor. Anyone dying in this frame of mind shall be among the damned for all eternity. Only those who die truly repentant with the hope of eternal life shall be eternally happy.
“Now do you want to see why the mercy of God brought you here?”
He lifted the curtain and I saw at the end of the room a group of Oratory boys - all known to me - who were there because of this sin. Among them were some whose conduct seems to be good.
“At least now you will surely let me take down their names so that I may warn them individually,” I begged.
“There is no need for that”, he answered.
“Then what do you suggest I tell them?”
“Always preach against immodesty. A generic warning will suffice. Bear in mind that even if you admonished them individually, they would make you a thousand promises, but not always sincerely. For firm resolution not to sin again, one needs God's grace, which will never be denied to your boys if they ask. God is so good that He manifests His power especially by being merciful and forgiving. On your part, pray and make sacrifices. As for the boys, let them listen to your admonitions and teachings and let them consult their consciences, which will tell them what to do.”
He spent the next half hour discussing the requisites of a good confession.
Afterward, my guide exclaimed in a loud voice several times, “Avertere! Avertere!”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“They must change their lives! They must change their lives!”
Perplexed, I bowed my head and was going to withdraw, when he called me back again and said: “You have not yet seen everything.”
God provides innumerable aids and graces to help a soul avoid Hell and attain Heaven
He turned and lifted another veil under which this inscription was written: Qui volunt dívites fieri, íncidunt in tentationem et láqueum diáboli [Those who desire to become rich, fall into temptation and into the snare of the Devil - 1 Tim 6: 9]
“This does not apply to my boys!” I countered. “For they are as poor as I am. We are not rich and do not want to be. We give it no thought.”
As the veil lifted, however, I saw in the room a group of boys, all known to me. They were in pain, like those I had seen before. Pointing to them, my guide remarked:
“As you see, the inscription does apply to your boys.”
“Then explain to me the means of the word divites.”
“For example, the hearts of some boys are attached to material objects so that this disordered affection distances them from the love of God; they lack therefore, piety and recollection. The heart can be perverted not only by the use of riches, but also by the immoderate desire for them, especially when this desire is against the virtue of justice.
“Your boys are poor, but remember that greed and idleness are bad counselors. Some of the boys committed substantial thefts in their native towns, and although they could make restitution, they are not concerned to do so. There are others who try to break into the pantry or the prefect's or treasurer’s office; others rummage in their companions’ trunks to steal food, money or other objects, and there are some who steal stationary and books for their own use...”
After naming these boys and others as well, he continued:
“Some are here for having stolen clothes, linen, blankets and comforters from the Oratory wardrobe in order to send them home to their families. Others, for some intentional damages they made and did not repair. Still others, for not returning objects they had borrowed or for keeping sums of money they were supposed to hand over to the superior.”
He concluded, saying:
“Now that you know who these boys are, admonish them, tell them to curb all vain, harmful desires, to obey God's law and to be zealous of their own honor, otherwise jealously shall lead them to greater excesses that shall plunge them into sorrow, death, and damnation.”
I could not understand why such dreadful punishments should be meted out for infractions that boys held of little account, but my guide interrupted my thoughts by saying: “Remember what you were told when you saw those spoiled grapes on the wine.”
From Memorias Biograficas de San Juan Bosco,
Vol. 9, pp. 166-181,
Posted July 28, 2102