The Dogma of Hell is the Most Terrible Truth

The TAN book entitled The Dogma of Hell: Illustrated by Facts Taken From Profane and Sacred History, by Fr. F. X. Schouppe, SJ, begins crisply as any author could make it: “THE DOGMA OF HELL is the most terrible truth of our faith. There is a Hell. We are as sure of it as of the existence of God, the existence of the sun. Nothing, in fact, is more clearly revealed than the dogma of Hell, and Jesus Christ proclaims it as many as fifteen times in the Gospel.”[1]

To deny your child a keen awareness of this potential danger is the greatest child abuse possible. What would you think of a parent that does not teach their son about the dangers of wild dogs next door? Or a parent that never warns their teenage daughter about walking through dark alleys at night?

Of course, you do not want your little one fearing the world to the point of seclusion. But a healthy fear of the world’s dangers is always appropriate.

And what of the greatest threat to your child? What of eternal damnation? Surely it is tempting to belittle the notion because you are raising a law-abiding citizen. You are not raising a monster, an animal, a hostile enemy of the Lord. This, Dear Parent, may be the very thought that leads you to the sin of presumption.

Do not raise your child to think he can call upon God’s mercy at a moment’s notice and that God will immediately obey. No! Train your child to work with diligence to avoid hell. Tell your child to prove to God every day that he fears hell by avoiding sin at all costs; tell him to beg for God’s mercy to be admitted to heaven. This is not morbid. This is truth.

No one should grow up in a morbid and joyless home. When parents focus too much on the darkness, they tend to smother the light. Finding the right level of emphasis is difficult. But one such method is to teach your child that hell is in accordance with God’s love! And this seemingly counterintuitive concept requires much effort and many years of instruction.

God’s infinite love does not force your child to love Him, especially your child. His love provides free will. We choose hell.

There is a danger, however, of taking the notion to an extreme. Do not believe that a person must stand up as a Satanist and proclaim his desire for eternal torment. No! Hell comes much easier than that, as Christ’s warnings in those fifteen passages prove.

Consider reading those fifteen passages to your family, one by one. Discuss each one. Jesus must have thought it important to state the same truth with such creativity and frequency.

As your child grows older, consider giving him books on the many apparitions of hell. Help him to avoid a morbid interest but still appreciate the reality that God has granted us insights into the inferno because hell is real.

In the end, hell is a very disturbing truth, but also a sign of God’s justice and love, for what good father does not warn his children of danger beforehand? Many souls have been saved due to their fear of hell. And the same goes for your own child. A healthy fear of Satan and his dominion is, in fact, a grace from God. But ultimately, however, the greater fear should be the loss of heaven. Such a fear is more worthy of a holy man or woman. And it is now heaven to which we turn. 

Source: Parenting for Eternity by Conor Gallagher, Published by TAN Books (Chapter 1: The Four Last Things, Heaven). 


[1] F. X. Schouppe, The Dogma of Hell: Illustrated by Facts Taken from Profrane and Sacred History (TAN Books, 1989), p. 1, emphasis added.