“I BELIEVE IN LIFE EVERLASTING”
212. In what does hell consist?
Hell consists in the eternal damnation of those who die in mortal sin through their own free choice. The principal suffering of hell is eternal separation from God in whom alone we can have the life and happiness for which we were created and for which we long. Christ proclaimed this reality with the words, “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire” (Matthew 25:41).
213. How can one reconcile the existence of hell with the infinite goodness of God?
God, while desiring “all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9), nevertheless has created the human person to be free and responsible; and he respects our decisions. Therefore, it is the human person who freely excludes himself from communion with God if at the moment of death he persists in mortal sin and refuses the merciful love of God.
214. In what does the final judgment consist?
The final or universal judgment consists in a sentence of happiness or eternal condemnation, which the Lord Jesus will issue in regard to the “just and the unjust” (Acts 24:15) when he returns as the Judge of the living and the dead. After the last judgment, the resurrected body will share in the retribution which the soul received at the particular judgment.
215. When will this judgment occur?
This judgment will come at the end of the world and only God knows the day and the hour.
216. What is the hope of the new heavens and the new earth?
After the final judgment the universe itself, freed from its bondage to decay, will share in the glory of Christ with the beginning of “the new heavens” and a “new earth” (2 Peter 3:13). Thus, the fullness of the Kingdom of God will come about, that is to say, the definitive realization of the salvific plan of God to “unite all things in Christ, things in heaven and things on earth” (Ephesians 1:10). God will then be “all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:28) in eternal life.
217. What is the meaning of the word “Amen” with which we conclude our profession of faith?
The Hebrew word “Amen”, which also concludes the last book of Sacred Scripture, some of the prayers of the New Testament, and the liturgical prayers of the Church, expresses our confident and total “yes” to what we professed in the Creed, entrusting ourselves completely to him who is the definitive “Amen” (Revelation 3:14), Christ the Lord.