The above massacre which took place on Sunday December 11, 2016 raises questions about the fate of the terrorist who died in making others suffer. He expected to be in paradise, but this is the reverse of heaven that Christians believe is for those who died in the grace of God. However if God is love according to St. John the Apostle (1 John 4: 8), then his love includes every one created. We may not encourage acts of terrorism that kill people. God understands the circumstances and psychological pressure that could drive weak persons into killing or committing suicide. This is why, in some cases, the Church may allow prayer of burial over a person who committed suicide if asked by his family. These are cases of psychological sickness. But the terrorist person may likely himself be lost...
In the Gospel, Christ warns against eternal damnation for those who do not help their needy fellow humans (especially persecuted Christians) in acts of mercy (e.g. see Matthew 25: 31-46). One man I know who has dedicated himself to work for helping students in the Holy Land is Hikmat Dandan. He is a member of the Knights of Columbus who won the Supreme Council's Award for the Youth in 2013. See the website of Jerusalem Students here http://jerusalemstudents.org. Hikmat collects funds from many churches and Councils in North America that Jesus the King parish sends to Melkite Catholic General Patriarchal Vicar Archbishop Joseph Jules Zerey in Jerusalem who is in charge of helping students in the Patriarchal school near Sahour where the angels appeared to the shepherds in announcing the good news of the birth of Jesus Christ. To donate or assist, contact Hikmat at knightsofcolumbus
A little background:
In the Old Testament hell was expressed first with the word "Sheol" as the abode of the dead - a place that separates the sinner from God - It is an alienation from God (e.g. Psalm 28: 1, Psalm 6: 6, Psalm 88, 10: 19). When the Hebrew Scripture was translated to Greek in ancient Alexandria around 200 B.C. the word "Hades" replaced "Sheol". Christianity made a definitive change in the proclamation of the Gospel from the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, his crucifixion, death and his Resurrection to his glorious Ascension. Hell has no more power over him and his true followers.
Throughout history, the doctrine of salvation, while is essentially the same, has developed as perceived by the Church (see "Who Can be Saved?" by Avery Cardinal Dulles here). In his philosophy of personalism, Saint John Paul II wrote about the reality of hell here.
The great Catholic theologian, Hans Urs von Balthasar wrote a book Dare We Hope “That All Men Be Saved”? (1988). He was appointed cardinal by Saint John Paul II for his services to the Church that helped her in the 20th century. Following in his footsteps, I hope and pray for the salvation of everyone regardless of his religion. See Richard John Neuhaus here and the story of his own conversion here. I also pray that God may in his unbounded mercy lead every non-Christian to the knowledge of Christ, believing in Him and the Church.
In my mind, I am frequently puzzled by the reality of hell that is everlasting for the damned. This could be the cause of many devout Christians repeatedly going to confession, and constantly praying popular prayers such as the Rosary. While we wish to enjoy life with others and families that we love I am simply afraid of damnation in an everlasting hell especially that the New Testament warns us against it. Yes, I pray that God may lead, in his unbounded mercy, all those non-Christians to the Church. But we cannot coerce them. A great recent example is Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta (see http://todayquestions.blogspot.ca/2008/11/third-teresa-woman-for-all-seasons.html).
To the above fear, several responses are found. There are, I believe, many young people who left the Church, and others who do not wish to believe in hell or would believe only if they are on death-bed...
However, the popular Bishop Robert Barron spoke recently about hell. You may wish to listen to his points which are a moderate exposition from a Catholic missionary in America: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dmsa0sg4Od4
I received a response from the Jesuit scholar and popular homilist Fr. Henri Boulad, S.J. I had sent him a little email about a devout lady who constantly prays the Rosary with her group and had to undergo a medical procedure because doctors suspected she may have cancer. So she went to confession, prepared herself with holy communion and said to God "I am in your hands...Thy will be done". Thank God, her prayers and mine were answered - she was told after the medical procedure that they found no tissue with cancer. Fr. Boulad responded today:
"I believe in the boundless power of prayer and what this lady has experienced is a proof of it. BUT, if my prayer is unanswered, I still believe that God has his own ways and I trust him fully. About HELL, I never think of it and don't fear it and don't care about it..."
Both Barron and Boulad make me see the light in this turbulent age. Trust and love overcome hell through Christ. Read the Second Vatican Council, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
You may wish to listen to Bishop Robert Barron here on having a personal relationship with Christ:
Christmas is here soon: Have a blessed Christmas!