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Bishop urges faithful to face ‘the reality of hell’ in Lent

By on Friday, 24 February 2012

Bishop Mark Davies says the shortness of our lives should shape our priorities (Photo: Mazur/

Bishop Mark Davies says the shortness of our lives should shape our priorities (Photo: Mazur/

The Bishop of Shrewsbury will urge Catholics to confront the “terrifying reality” of hell in a Lenten pastoral letter this Sunday.

Quoting from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Bishop Mark Davies will remind his flock of the “terrifying reality of which the Gospel repeatedly speaks: ‘immediate and everlasting damnation’”.

“For ‘to die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God’s merciful love,’ the Catechism explains, ‘means remaining separated from him for ever by our own free choice.’ Yes, this is the real and everlasting choice of our lives,” he will say.

Bishop Davies will also encourage the faithful to regain their “perspective of eternity” during Lent.

He will say: “Being aware of this limited time on earth and all that is to follow – our judgment, our purgatory, heaven or hell forever – becomes an urgent invitation to conversion in our lives.”

The bishop will also note the observation of Blessed Pope John Paul II in his book, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, that many have lost a sense of the “Last Things”, the body of teaching that deals with death, judgment, the destination of immortal souls and bodily resurrection.

“This is the urgency to which Lent and Easter now recalls us with the poignant mark of ashes,” he will say. “It is the realisation of what the Psalmist calls ‘the shortness of lives’ which helps shape our priorities and gives each day a new urgency in the light of all eternity before us.”

  • Benedict Carter

    Thank God for the courage of this one Bishop. 

    And the other members of the England & Wales Bishops’ Marxist Collective?

  • Dave Corrigan

    If you read Father Arnell’s sermon on Hell from: “Portrait of an Artist” Chapter 3, By James Joyce you will see the text was Jesuit doctrine at the time of James Joyce, and when I was at seminary in the 1950’s. The same sermon (word for word) was still in vogue, and was still being preached by The Redemptorist and The Cross and Passion missionaries in the 1960’s . Maybe it has been knocked on the head by now, but even so the image presented by them was awesome, and always a bit wacky because it was so exaggerated to be credible    I have already read Dr Faustaus Mephistopheles’ description of hell, and it is just as unrealistic and bizarre as the description presented by the Jesuits, because there is no such place as Hell. For this reason it is right and proper that the law must be changed to stop closed minded well intentioned zealots from causing emotional anxiety and fear in the vulnerable. Reference Portrait of an Artist By James Joyce (1992) ISBN 1-85326-006-1 Wordsworth Classics.

  • Mark Castilano

    As soon as I realised that the Bible and the New Testament were just metaphorical and allegorical presentations and a collections of ancient stories and traditions, just like “The Odyssey”, then I began to study it all the more, and the stories are very good indeed. But it is clear that no rational person could ever think that these things literally happened. However there are those people who cannot reason by analogy, or understand correlations or hypothetical concepts and think that everything in the Bible and New Testament are actually true. They make very good Catholics and would believe anything if a priest said so and would not allow reason or logic to get in the way. 

  • Helen Damnation

    Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit.

  • Helen Damnation

    You know jack-diddly-squat about Bishop Mark. He is well loved and respected. He is a really loveable guy and deeply respected for telling things like it is.

    Up North, we value straight up, honesty and no messing.

    And Bishop Mark is no Southern Softie!

    It does not take a genius to work that out… or any academic, either.


    Would you call manufacturers of electrical appliances, oil refineries, chemical factories, garages, building sites et al ‘preaching made up nonsense to attain control and power’ when they warn you of the consequences of NOT following their instructions?

    Do you read the warning stickers on the sides of tankers and containers or instructions enclosed with appliances and say smugly to yourself:

    ‘These guys are controlling what I can and cannot do. The danger they write about is only there to scare the poo out of us. Whatever! I’ll ignore them because they are evil scaremongers.’

    ‘Evil scaremongers’ warn children not to play on railway lines because of the consequences which result in serious injury or even a horrible death, then.

    Nope. It’s the British Transport Police.

    Many years ago, there were public information films shown on telly and at cinemas which were made to deliberately scare you into thinking of the consequences of NOT obeying the rules of safety and not taking responsibility for one’s actions. They were shown during the day and the evening.

    Nowadays, some clown decides to show present-day versions when everyone’s in bed!

    Yeah, and I say ‘knickers!’ to European legislation which determine what qualifies as a banana… and the laughable example you’ve written about!

    Therefore, the Tufty Club and The Green Cross Code were thought up by mullahs, questionable preachers and Jesuits, eh?

    Nope. It was a government initiative to ensure children respect the road, use the crossings provided to ensure safety on increasingly busy roads.

    To keep safe, one needs guidance and instructions on how to avoid danger in our corporal  life. The Highway Code is one example.

    For Roman Catholics, it is the 10 Commandments, Canon Law and the Catechism to cater for every aspect of our lives to avoid Hell and all its horror.

    St Patrick used a three-leaf shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity. Our Blessed Lord used everyday things like a mustard seed, a penny etc. in his parables.

    No different, then, to anyone illustrating a point using foodstuffs or, indeed, anything else.

    And is the Holy Father going to listen to you when you say the Catechism will have to be strictly reviewed?

    You are up your own anal orifice and seriously infected with pride if you think you can do his job better.

    Who gives a flying fish finger about Europe and making it illegal to preach about the reality of Hell and the consequences of sin?

    St Thomas More and St John Fisher preferred the chopping block than follow a tyrant king’s pride and vanity to become head of the church in England and his evil version of throwing his teddies out of the pram in the process.

  • Helen Damnation

    Jacinta, Francisco and Lucia – the seers of Our Lady of Fatima – were shown Hell.

    Their before and after photos say a lot more than anything James Joyce has ever written.

  • Jason Clifford

    The Christian faith which is guaranteed by the Catholic Church by virtue of the Holy Spirit is very clear and you, unfortunately, are very far from the truth of it.

    No amount of time will change the unchangable truths confirmed by many Councils but primarily given to us directly by Jesus Christ, whose Incarnation, death and resurrection are absolute facts. True dignity comes from the truth not from man’s attempts to create his own “truths” – the sin of Adam and Eve remains just as poisonous today as it was in the beginning.

    Were you really a Catholic priest you would know all of this. You would experience the truth of it in each Mass, each confession, and each celebration of the sacraments.

  • Suzy

    I don’t think you need to be quite so extreme re: that choice. God is not after our suffering and pain, he wants us to be happy, but he also wants us to love him first and foremost over everything/one else (Christ states this directly in the Gospel as the greatest law of all). There’s no sin in choosing to go spend time with someone so don’t exaggerate the “hellish” consequences. And I think your comment about the priest is highly unfair- do you have any idea what it must be like for someone to consecrate their life to what they believe (regardless of whether you do) is truth? And then to have people make a mockery simply because they choose a different lifestyle? As Catholics, we believe that it’s no longer the priest in the confessional, but Christ himself. Can you imagine anything more humbling than coming face to face with the very son of the creator who made you and can read your every thought? Think twice before you laugh at our human understanding of the role of confession. And please dont give priests such a hard time, I don’t see why it’s fair to abuse someone’s profession simply because you’re not in agreement.

  • Suzy

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with your choice David, you’re free to choose what you wish to do and I completely understand your choice. But what I think it comes down to is your love for God and your love for the person (in this case, this lady you met with). It’s quite  natural to feel love and tenderness and Christ doesn’t forbid this, but he simply asks that we love the Lord our God with our whole heart, mind etc and then, secondly, that we love our neighbour as ourselves. In my mind, I would feel challenged in making the choice you had to make, because I believe that Christ died on the cross for me, and the whole of mankind. 

    Therefore, in giving up just a couple of hours of my day to spend time in his presence, contemplating the great sacrifice he made, is the least I can do for him. I would then hopefully be able to meet my friend after, knowing that I’d put the most important person in my life first, and everything else, second. Does that make sense? I hope so. 

    And please, everyone- reading all these comments is quite discouraging. Firstly- this is a Catholic website therefore, if you don’t share Catholic beliefs, then perhaps find an alternative forum for venting your feelings? Or at least, if you want to express your feelings then feel free to do so, as someone posted, we should be open to accepting and listening to others’ opinions, which is true, but please remember that for those of us who are practicing Catholics, our faith is not just a matter of moral code or doctrine, it is something we live and breathe, it is a love for a deity that loves us, each and everyone one of us.

    I am a young Catholic, I stopped practicing for several years and I followed the rest of the world. But I found that something was missing, that living for myself alone wasn’t enough. I found my faith again through meeting incredible people who were kind, sincere, generous, and you know what? They were all practicing Catholics.

    I now know so many young Catholics who whole-heartedly accept the teachings of the Church, in particular those of John Paul II and Benedict XVI and they devote regular time to helping those in need (through SVP for example). They also pray regularly, attend Mass regularly and receive the sacraments regularly. They are not narrow-minded or ‘blind’ people, they are young professionals, students, people in love, people that go out partying.

    Catholicism and Catholic doctrine is compatible with twenty-first century thinking. Read the Catholic social doctrine and find fault in it. There have been many errors in the Church in the past, but the Church is the body of Christ, and like any body, there are parts and organs that don’t always function well. But the body is alive, and the spirit at its centre is Christ and it is pure and seeking eternal happiness for everyone. As Christ himself says, he came to cure the sick, so give it a chance, don’t despise something that doesn’t despise you.

    Enough said! :)

  • Mark Castilano

    This is a post hypnotic suggestion thick that has been used by stage hypnotists and flim-flam men since the beginning of time. It would have been just as easy to show them Charlie Chaplin. No one buys this sort of trickery anymore.

  • artful

    Its a laudable practise to read Dante’s Inferno from time to time. (The Divine Comedy) 
    It puts things in their right perspective and gives us a terrifying image that we would do well for our soul’s health to contemplate. 

  • Jason Clifford

     I’ve held off responding for a couple of days to read around this and think it over.

    Firstly I’d like to acknowledge the truth in some of what you say. While the Congregation certainly never pronounced dogma (doing so is a positive rather than negative action and it’s only authority was to publish a list of works that were either wrong or considered to be wrong) it is true that in doing so it exercised the authority of the Church and that it was substantially wrong on the matters of scientific fact. This isn’t news however – the Church has already clearly stated as much.

    The actual work Galileo wrote was not what we might normally expect as a work of science. As he had been warned that his work was likely to be considered for the Index and had been advised by the Pope and others in the Church on how to publish it without such a sanction it was a different type of work altogether in which he made the mistake of presenting what the Pope had asked him to include from the mouth of a character whose name in the Italian of the day was remarkably like simpleton and this was taken as a deliberate insult. Whether it was deliberate or not it was an action that contributed much to his loss of standing with the Church.

    It’s worth noting that inclusion in the Index was a statement that a writing was “not free from error” rather than an assertion to something else as you have portrayed it to be. The Church never taught as dogma (which has a very specific meaning which you can see in The Catechism of the Catholic Church p88 – p100) a particular view of cosmology.

    One final thing – and this is offered very much tongue in cheek – had the Church actual stated exactly what you wrote that it is false “that the Sun stood still and the Earth moved” she would have been absolultely correct as we now know. The truth is that neither the Sun nor the Earth stand still at all but are both constantly in motion, the Earth around the Sun and the Sun around the centre of our galaxy. St. Augustine was right after all!

  • Daviddevinish

    Jacinta, Francisco and Lucia saw exactly what they were intended to see by a specialist in hypnosis. The same applies to the case of  Bernadette at Lourdes. Both of these religious scams have been replicated under strict clinical conditions. However, it was not anticipated at the time by the Catholic Church that clinical hypnosis and post hypnotic suggestion would become common knowledge and that the scam would be revealed.

  • David B McGinnity

    Suzy, you sound to be very sincere, but some of your beliefs are totally unfounded.   The Body of Christ meant ‘the body’ in the context of an organisation. The body Christ meant those early disciples who followed the teaching of Jesus were a body of people. It was never intended to mean a physical body. It was Constantine who introduced this fallacy just as he perverted the meaning of the Sun of God (an enlightened person) to the Son of God. He did this because Constantine had made Jesus into a God in the Roman context of a god, and then discovered that there can be only one God in Christianity, so he invented the Son of God. Catholic teaching is filled with so many implausible misrepresentations of Jesus that I am surprised that he has lasted so long. But the people have found out the truth.

  • Jason Clifford


    the faith of the Church in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, truly God and truly man was there from the beginning. It permeates the Gospels, Acts and the Epistles and Revelations. It is clear in the writings of the Early Fathers.

    However gave you the idea that Constantine had any such influence sorely misled you. Constantine decreed that Christianity be permitted as a religion in the Roman Empire but did not himself become baptised until shortly before his death. He did not sit on any Council and had no part in any doctrine. If you want you can read the early Councils yourself and the Early Fathers. Alternatively just read the New Testament and see how Jesus clearly reveals himself as the Son of God – so clearly that many Jews rejected him specifically because of it!

  • Helen Damnation

    I thank God and His Holy Mother for the courage of Bishop Mark every day.

    The others need all the prayers they can get… as well as their respective flocks!

  • Helen Damnation

    Suzy does not need your patronising sneak attack re your first sentence. 

    Neither do we!

    It was Christ who appeared to Constantine in the symbol we see in Christendom (Chi Rho) and said ‘In this sign conquer!’

    Indeed he did.

  • Helen Damnation

    And it is Jesus Christ Himself who said ‘My flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I in him.’

    It is Christ who posed this question to his disciples: Who do people say I am?

    Peter answered: You are the Christ the son of the Living God.

    Christ gave Peter the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Peter is the first pope.

    And who could forget the Last Supper?

    I doubt if McGinnity will attend the Holy Thursday Mass and start an argument with the word of God.

  • David B McGinnity

    And,  John Lennon saw “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”. The song is credited to Lennon–McCartney, for The Beatles’ 1967.Let us not forget that Constantine lived in what is now Turkey where the opium poppy was ubiquitous. Opium was used in food ,drinks and medicines. The concept of barbiturate and hypnotic drugs were well understood in Roman times and were generously used by the population for recreation, much like today. This is why Constantine saw Jesus, and this is why Helena his mother went to Jerusalem to find the non-existent true cross, that she could not have done because Golgotha has been excavated by the order of the emperor Hadrian over 200 years before the time of Constantine, and not one iota of anything associated with executions remained. So she hallucinated a true cross and brought it back with her knowing that no one would dare question her claim. Most of the religious visions were experienced by people who would by today’s standards be diagnosed as psychological disordered or drugged out of their mind.

  • David B McGinnity

    How strange? The Bishop of Shrewsbury, Mark Davies, living by Medieval values wants us to repent, a bit like a scene from the films: “The Devils” or “The Name of the Rose”. The Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, wants us to face reality and accept that the Catholic Church is at breaking point. There is clear tangible evidence that supports the view of Diarmuid Martin. The Pope and the Vatican has changed so much that they do not count for anything anymore I imagine that there will be indignant retorts from the stalwart “faithful” (like Old Shep) quoting some medieval saint who had visions of hell etc, etc. It is too late for nonsensical sermons.It breaks my heart to think that the Catholic Church allowed it’s self to be tricked into secular modernity. In 1957 my parish priest dressed like a priest, he drove a Morris Minor car and he smoked a pipe. In 1967 he dressed in black patent shoes, chocolate brown trousers, a burgundy coloured shirt, and a primrose coloured sports coat with green checks . He now drove a Triumph sports car and he smoked Petit Coronas cigars. He also drank in the pub with the boys. That is just a simple example of the Catholic Church “going to the dogs”.

  • David B McGinnity

    Another: “own goal”!!! Another faux pas because Constantine saw the Cross and a sign to say “by this sign will you conquer” . Yet he didn’t become baptised a Christian until his deathbed. This statement sums up the nonsense of Christine doctrine.   However, let us give Constantine the benefit of the doubt and agree that he was inspired by God. But so were many others who have a following. Mohammed also claims to have been inspired by God, and Jim Jones of the People’s Temple claims to have been inspired by God. Joseph Smith, Jr. founder of the Latter Day Saint Movement claims to have been inspired by God. John Knox claims to have been inspired by God, and on, and on, and on it goes. So the question is who is right, and how do you know? Poor old God! life cannot be easy for him in dealing with so many crackpots

  • Jason Clifford

    And what does your fantasy about 4th century history have to do with the fact that every doctrine of the Incarnation was clearly already fully in place in the 1st century and so could not have come from Constantine?

    The scandal and glory of the Incarnation is that God is always faithful even to “crackpots” and so His Church remains His bride.

  • Dave Corrigan

    That is nothing because our parish priest took up dancing lessons and won a “Pasodoble” contest in Blackpool. He packed in the church and opened a dancing school called:  “Vocations” .

  • Mark Castilano

    Eric Bikubi and Magalie Bamu the witchcraft torturers and murderers were brought up as Roman Catholics. Well done to the Catholics missionaries. They took to eating human flesh literally.

  • Fergus Strathdee

    In the 1980’s I spent some time in Nigeria and found that Roman Catholicism and witchcraft are concomitant. This state of affairs applies in The Congo and throughout Africa and Haiti. It has been alleged that rather than the missionaries converting the Africans to Christianity, the reality was visa-versa. It is now recognised that the Christian missionaries have done more harm than good. Of course any religion that is preoccupied with torture, blood and suffering as the catholic religion is, must expect that cruelty and barbarity will result.

  • Dave Corrigan

    In preparation for my first communion and confirmation I recall rote learning this stuff that you are reciting ad nausea. Even now, like you I can still recite and regurgitate catholic dogma. None of us understood a word of what we were learning, we just did because we knew no better. When I was ten, I was very puzzled and perplexed as to how the catholic church claimed to love children on one hand and then hammer them senseless on the other. There is no shortage of evidence to prove that priests, brothers and nuns were callous and sadistic physically and emotionally. It is still a puzzle to me how they could beat someone senseless and then have the impertinence to teach the love of Jesus Christ. The same shallowness and cunning still exists within the Catholic church and they have not changed, but society has changed and there is no place in society for adoration of deities.

  • David B McGinnity

    The incarnation is mythical like fairies at the bottom of the garden. The Frankenstein monster is more credible that the incarnation. A tin of “Carnation Cream” is more credible that all this old guff for which there is not one ounce of reasoning. It is beyond logic and is simply not true. It is only a matter of time until teaching idiotic and contaminating dogma about gods and devils will be outlawed.

  • David B McGinnity

    How strange? The Bishop of Shrewsbury, Mark Davies, wants us to repent and be saved from hell. The Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, wants us to face reality and accept that the Catholic Church is at breaking point. There is clear tangible evidence that supports the view of Diarmuid Martin that he Catholic Church is on it’s last legs.

  • Benedict Carter

    …. on its last legs before it throws off the insanity of the last 50 years and returns to Tradition and recovers Herself, yes.

  • David B McGinnity

    It is too late for facile nonsensical sermons. It breaks my heart to think that the Catholic Church allowed it’s self to be tricked into secular modernity. I find this “watered down” sort of Catholicism is (for me) devoid of sanctity and spirituality. In 1957 my parish priest dressed like a priest, he drove a Morris Minor car and he smoked a pipe. In 1967 he dressed in black patent shoes, chocolate brown trousers a burgundy coloured shirt, and a primrose coloured sports coat with green checks. He sometimes wore a boater straw hat like a song and dance man. He wore the very best Eau de Cologne scent. He drove a top of the range, two tone Triumph sports car and he smoked “Petit Coronas” cigars. He also drank cocktails in the pub with the boys. That is just a simple example of the Catholic Church “going to the dogs”. Many other priests did much the same thing and have made a complete mockery of The Catholic Church from which it will never recover.

  • John Byrne

    and have made a complete mockery of The Catholic Church from which it will never recover.”

    I hope that “your” Catholic Church i.e. your traditional one without “secular modernity” ( dating from 1957, no less !!) stays on its well-deserved death bed until it truly snuffs it.

    May the religious wing of European Fascism go into the darkness of the darkness for ever a.s.a.p. .

  • Seobury

    God help us all if this the future…more like a backwards move!

  • Seobury

     How do you know how it really is…….and how does he. Been on a recent vacation?