The fact that hell exists is proof of God’s love. Without a choice to go to hell there is no free will, there are no choices, there is no love. If there was not a hell, then God could not honor our choice to reject Him. Hell makes choosing God possible, without there is no choice. If there were not a choice to go to hell we would be animals, without choice, relying on our instincts to dictate our lives.
Does God pre-destine a soul to go to hell? The short answer is no. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church Predestined means that we are selected for divine adoption by an eternal decree of God (Eph 1:4). “Predestination is a mystery revealed but not fully understood; what we know for certain is that God is free to act as he chooses (Ps 135:6) and man is free to accept or reject his blessings (Rom 2:6-8; Sir 15:11-13). No one is predestined by God for eternal damnation” (CCC 1037).
Predestined and predetermined are two different things. We are in fact predestined for heaven. The old Baltimore Catechism says this about why God created us: “God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him for ever in heaven.” This goes against the argument that some protestants have used to say God predestines some people to go to hell and there is nothing they can do to change it. They believe that some people are chosen and brought into existence for this purpose, to go to hell. This is false. God does not desire it nor does He bring into being a person so he can then “send” them to hell.
It is a person’s free will that destines a person for hell. God’s gift of free will allows each person to choose heaven or hell. There are two choices really. “I am a handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to they word” as Mary said or “Not my will but thine be done” as Jesus said. The alternative is “I will not serve” which was the response of Lucifer.
So how is one to understand how a person is “predetermined” to go to hell? When we understand the immaculate conception we understand predetermined. Why is this? Because the Immaculate Conception reveals the very timelessness of God. God is outside of time and space. God applied the graces merited by Jesus Christ on the cross and applied it to Mary at the moment of her conception.
How could He do that? Because God knew Mary would say yes. This did not mean she did not get to chose it, it just means that because He is God He exists outside of space and time. He is past present and future. God knows no boundaries. He knew she would say yes it happened already outside of time and he preemptively applied the grace. This is of course my laymen terms for such a complex theology that only a theologian (which I am not) could explain it concisely.
You could say that Mary was predetermined to say yes and be the mother of God. Bl Anne Catherine Emerich talks about this in her 4 volumes that Mel Gibson used to write the screen play for “The Passion”. She said in her writings that God desired to bring about the salvation of the world sooner but it was not until St. Anne and St. Joachim that two loved like the trinity into which Mary was brought and in which she would say yes to being the mother of God that God could then move forward with His divine plan. That shows you how much God honors our free will. He won’t even save us unless we allow Him to, that is how much He respects our free will.
It is hard to understand how the graces merited on the cross by Jesus Christ were given to His mother before she was even born. Another way to wrap ones head around this mystery is to contemplate the Eucharist. At mass we experience Calvary. It is because the Holy Sacrifice of the mass is able to pass outside of space and time, literally making present the body of Jesus Christ, that this is possible. We are not re-creating Christ’s death and crucifixion, nor are we re-sacrificing Him, rather we step through a mystical veil of time and space and Calvary is made present. We are at the foot of the Cross.
This is why we pray for the dead or why we ask for the Communion of Saints to pray for us. Our prayers can bestow graces to them before their deaths. We can pray for those who died and our prayers can merit graces that outside of time can be given to them before they died to help perfect their nature. It is this mystery of timelessness that many of us cannot understand because we are temporal beings. We are bound by space and time but God is not. The spiritual is not. Angels pass through this veil easily because they are not bound time space as we are. Perhaps this is why some Saints could bi-locate. They could pass through the veil because it is a reality created by God to govern the physical realm. However, we are spiritual and physical beings. Therefore, we too are able to pass through the veil in ways known only to God and in our Glorified bodies we will move as fast as our thoughts and will pass through walls much like Christ did when manifested into the upper room. He passed through the veil, the dimension that separates us.
At the moment of conception God creates a holy immortal soul and infuses it into the body of that child. At that moment God knows all of the choices that person will make before they make them, never diminishing their free will.
It is the choices they will make that will determine their final destination. All souls are destined for heaven. This is the the truth of the trinity because every person is created in the image and likeness of God who is Love. God is love poured out and overflowing and in that excess of love He creates Holy immortal souls. This means we are all created to love and be loved. If we do not chose enter into that love we reject God (who is Love) and chose the alternative.
The fact that hell exists is another proof of God’s love. Without a choice to go to hell there is no free will, there are no choices, there is no love. If there was not a hell, then God could not honor our choice to reject Him. Hell makes choosing God possible, without there is no choice. If there were not a choice to go to hell we would be animals, without choice, relying on our instincts to dictate our lives.
God does not force himself on us but rather allows us to decide if we will be with Him forever in Heaven or if we will reject Him and spend eternity in Hell. We will exist for all eternity, where we do it is up to us.
So if we are not predestined to go to hell are we predetermined to go to hell? What does predetermined mean? In this context predetermined means that before it happens it is already known to happen. Souls are predetermined for hell because their choice of hell is known by God before they live it out.
James 1:13-15, “Let know one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted with evil and he himself tempts no one; but each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin; and sin when it is full-grown brings forth death.”
It is our choice to sin that determines whether or not we spend eternity in hell. When a soul is pre-determined to go to hell it means that God knows that they would reject Him regardless of His invitations or intersessions. He knows it because He sees their decisions, sees into their personhood, knows their hearts and understands all of their choices and gives them the freedom to choose.
Free will is a very powerful thing. Even the devil has no real power other than what our free will gives him. When we submit our will to evil and enflesh it, that is when the devil is able to oppress us. Free will is something we should all contemplate more. It transcends space and time and can condemn a person before they are born (because a birthday is a time and God is outside time). On a positive note, it can also save the entire human race. Jesus and Mary are proof of that.