#032: 4 Sections of Hell [Podcast]

My goal this week is to introduce talk about the afterlife. We are in the middle of the octave of Holy Week. We are celebrating the resurrection of Christ from the dead. But it raises the question: what is meant by the dead? We also say that he “descended into Hell” and yet Christ told the good thief that he would be with Him in Paradise.

All of this confuses people. So today we are going to break it all down. By the time you finish this podcast you’ll understand limbo, Christ’s descent into Hell, the Harrowing of Hell, and how the thief could be in Hell and Paradise with Christ at the same time.

Are you ready?

  • Weekly podcast joke: Four Clergyman went to the forest to evangelize a bear
  • Tip of the week: Book 12 Week Year by Brian Moran (recommended by Josh Simmons of eCatholic)
  • Proverb of the week: Proverbs 24:5
  • Featured Segment: 4 Sections of Hell
  • Saint of the Week: Saint John Paul II
  • Latin word of the week: Apostolicam Actuositatem

Click to Listen: Podcast #032 4 Sections of Hell

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Podcast Archive

# Title Released
031 Meet The Saint Version of You 04/16/2014
030 Should You Be an Optimist? 04/09/2014
029 Finding Fellowship like Samwise Gamgee 04/01/2014
028 Demons, Snakes, and Ticks: Lessons from a Hunting Trip 03/26/2014
027 How to Make an Eternal Impact with Your Life 03/19/2014
026 Thoughts on My Pilgrimage to Our Lady of Guadalupe 02/26/2014
025 Why is the Catholic Church Roman? 02/19/2014
024 The Seven Lies We Believe About Our Failures 02/11/2014
023 How to Restart Your Mental Computer 02/06/2014
022 Top Five Productivity Tips from Thomas Aquinas 01/29/2014
021 Did You Miss God’s Plan for Your Life? 01/23/2014
020 When Prayer Becomes a Chore 01/15/2014
019 12 Attributes of a Baptized Christian 01/08/2014
018 A Podcast Against Bitter Catholics! 12/30/2013
017 Mary’s Painless Delivery of Christ Explained 12/18/2013
016 Our Lady of Guadalupe and Saint Luke (Plus How to Set Goals) 12/11/2013
015 Total Consecration to Mary 12/04/2013
014 What’s Your Apostolate? 11/27/2013
013 6 Items for the Liturgy of Your Life 11/20/2013
012 Why You Should Be More Creative 11/13/2013
011 Why Did They Stop Teaching Virtue? 11/06/2013
010 How Do Saints Hear Our Prayers? 10/30/2013
009 My Opinion of Martin Luther 10/23/2013
008 My Top 5 Daily Prayers 10/16/2013
007 Your Guardian Angel 10/03/2013
006 How You Can Convert 7 Billion People 09/25/2013
005 3 Strategies for a Marriage that Sings! 09/18/2013
004 4 Step Plan When Family Leave the Faith 09/12/2013
003 5 Tools for Deep Daily Prayer Life 09/04/2013
002 Three Tips to Increase Your Passion for Life 08/28/2013
001 How to Find a Spiritual Director 08/18/2013
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  • Froilan

    No comments on this yet!? I thought the would be abuzz by now on the limbo of the infants. Mr. Marshall thank you for this podcast. I myself am a convert to the church and, while I never believed there was any justification for limbo as a Protestant, as a Catholic I was convinced why the fathers of the Church saw its existence. So I struggled that pope Benedict really saw that it should be have been done away with as a teaching in the Church. I have tried to find his reasoning on it, but I cannot find anything in detail. I understand post Vatican II teaching places emphasis on God’s mercy and love, but that doesn’t throw out the church’s previous teaching on original sin and the beatific vision. So even though the theological commission’s document doesn’t have any weight on official church teaching, I wonder why it is all but abandoned. I agree the Church needs to weigh in on this some more, and it’s almost like we are in limbo just waiting for that…

    • I’ve been bracing myself all day! It’s not a closed issue, but it’s an issue that must be tended to with love, patience, and mercy.

      I’m not sure Benedict XVI wanted to do away with it. I think the International Theological Commission was falsely positioned as “the Pope says,” when it was just a committee document.

      My two cents.

  • Julia

    Very interesting podcast. Your explanation did make me feel better about limbo, that it wasn’t something cruel that the infants were being denied the beatific vision, more like a mercy. Because baptism is necessary for salvation, to die and not have baptism and not be damned is a great mercy. I suppose the feeling that many (including myself (though your podcast is helping to change my mind)) might have towards it being some sort of punishment could come from a misunderstanding of baptism.

    It also reminded me of a story my grandmother told me. She was a high ranking nurse in the fifties, and often was called in on when they had patients with difficult pregnancies, miscarriages, and things like that. When a child was dying, she, working at a thoroughly Catholic hospital, would always baptize the child. She said she must have baptized over a hundred children in her years as a nurse. And now all I can think about it is how she gave those children the Beatific Vision, and how much they must pray for her from heaven. (She’s 94 and drives, lives independently, and has no mental deterioration whatsoever. I don’t think there can be any doubt about their prayers for her.)

    Thanks for giving me new perspective, and I’m going to share this with her the next time we chat!

    • God bless your grandmother. The Church teaches we cannot baptized the babies of non-Catholics UNLESS those babies are dying. Then we should do it, even secretly.

      I have a doctor friend who has done the honors for several babies who died in the ER. God bless him.

      • Lisa Marie

        I personally believe God somehow applies an extraordinary Baptism to all infants who die in the womb, either by natural or intentional means. I believe my 3 who died in the womb were granted this extraordinary grace. After all, they were dwelling in life giving waters in the womb and God knows for sure that I would have Baptized them the very same as their brothers and sisters have been. So I apply a Baptism of desire upon each of them.

        That said, I’m glad the Church is not settled on this issue because I can’t imagine such a place as limbo for an infant whose only want in life is to be with his parents. That’s all they want, nothing else. What Father then, would leave him somewhere else, other than with Him! Since God transcends time and space, and can enter into it and out of it at His choosing, I believe an extraordinary Baptism is not out of the question here. I’m not having a bar of never seeing them at all.

        2 cents from a mum with a broken heart!

        • Lisa Marie,

          God bless you and your broken heart! I’m so sorry.

          I don’t know if you listened to the podcast, but I talk about how even if those babies did not receive the beatific vision, parents could and would still be with them. Limbo does not mean that parents would have not be present to those infants.

          • Lisa Marie

            Thank you Dr Marshall for your sincere reply.

            I have now listened to the podcast, and it is a pleasant hope, but not enough, and it does not make sense to me. Here is my dilemma. In declaring Baptism is required to enter the Kingdom of Heaven after death, the Eternal Church has excluded a group of individuals from receiving it, three of which are my children, due to their age and size, through no fault of their own.

            Since God is the Author of Life and Death, and since life begins at conception, and not after birth, there has to be a way for these infants to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, since it was beyond my control to ensure they get there according to the ruling of the Church.

            Do you see the “gap” of exclusion here?

            Is an extraordinary Baptism really out of the question, since an ordinary Baptism could not be applied under ANY circumstance?

            I must confess, under the duress of emotion, I’m relieved this is not formally
            defined doctrine, because I am unable to accept the current theory, given that God has allowed 5 of my children to be Baptized, and 3 to be excluded from it, in His Church.

            Forgive my ignorance on the matter!

  • Sarah

    Your podcast gave a great overview– I’m always learning new things from you! Dr. Marshall, can you provide any more documents on this topic for further reading? Is it possible to pray and make sacrifices for those in limbo to eventually take part in the beatific vision just as we pray for the release of souls in purgatory?

    • Froilan

      If I understand it right, once they are in limbo that is where they remain. They are incapable of experiencing the beatific vision. The only door that is open is Purgatory for the souls to be made holy and ascend into Heaven.

    • The problem is that without sanctifying grace, the soul cannot become “deiform” – a word Saint Thomas Aquinas uses to describe the “shape” of the soul required to receive the beatific vision.

      All souls in Purgatory have the sanctifying grace to become deiform. Unbaptized babies would not have this sanctifying grace to become deiform. That’s the problem. This is why they never receive the beatific vision.
      There is a very wonderful debate about the status of “limbo babies” at the General Resurrection and their resurrected bodies. This was an interesting medieval topic!

  • davidvella

    One of the things I didn’t hear you touch on during your Limbo section is the baptism of desire and baptism of blood. In particular the desire of parents to baptize their children is considered in Canon law for Catholic burial.

    • Anne

      This was my understanding as well. I believe it’s called baptism of intention. What are the Church’s teaching on this Dr. Marshall?

  • Bernadette Vella Wolff

    Illuminating lecture! Is this to say that infants who are baptized by laymen, such as in abortions or miscarriages, etc., DO see The Beatific Vision?

  • Cathryn Havel Lang

    In my understanding, Limbo is the place where ALL the souls of people were held, from Adam and Eve, up to the time of the crucifixion of Jesus, and He went down to release them after His death. Heaven was not open until the Resurrection. And as far as the aborted babies not being baptized, they have a “baptism of blood,” and are martyrs. Since God is a God of mercy, I don’t see unbaptized infants not going to heaven, since they haven’t sinned, and they have a ”baptism of desire.” I don’t see any need for a Limbo since Jesus opened Heaven now. I have read several articles and a book about Life after Death, and in them, I learned that the people in Heaven are the age that Jesus died, 33 years old. Must be the mature spiritual age? So, there won’t be any “little children there who cannot understand complete spirituality,” in my opinion.

    • Well the souls of the damned before Christ were not in Limbo – they were in Gehenna. Also there were souls in Purgatory too.

  • Steve Ruyle

    Excellent explanation of the limbo of children with the museum. Best I’ve ever heard.

  • Andrew Roland Zeisel

    Totally awesome talk Dr. Taylor.
    Awesome joke like usual – I bust your jokes out at YAC (Young Adult Catholic) gatherings in my diocese and they are always a hit (you always get the credit). People really love humor and clever things. I feel that this speaks indirectly to the proverb of the week – Wisdom is awesome in any form.
    I would like to thank you for so clearly presenting the infallible teaching on limbo. When I was studying theology the topic came up and never was adequately addressed. The Pope’s name was thrown around but it didn’t seem like something Bene would do. I understand the pastoral side of things but charity can only blossom out of the flower bed of truth.
    Lastly, don’t know if you realized it when you spoke it. That line about theology not being lived is the practice of the devils. Awesome!

  • peter reilly

    Do the children in Limbo ever move into the Beatific Vision or do they remain in Limbo for all eternity
    Regards Peter Reilly