The Four Principal Gates of Hell, Part 1: Hatred

"Her gates are sunk into the ground."

Broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there are who go in thereat. Hell has then different gates, but these gates stand on our earth. Her gates are sunk into the ground. These are the vices by which men offend God, and draw down upon themselves chastisements and eternal death. Amongst the other vices, there are four which send. most souls to Hell, and on this earth bring upon men the scourges of God; and these four are, HATRED, BLASPHEMY, THEFT, and IMPURITY. Behold, the four gates by which the greater number of souls enter Hell; and it is of these four that I mean to speak today, in order that you may amend and cure yourselves of these four vices, otherwise God will cure you of them, but by your own destruction.

1. Hatred

The first gate of Hell is hatred. As Paradise is the kingdom of love, so Hell is the kingdom of hatred. Father, says such a person, I am grateful to and love my friends, but I cannot endure him who does me an injury. Now, brother, you must know that the barbarians, the Turks and Indians say and do all this: Do not also the heathens this? says the Lord. To wish well to him who serves you is a natural thing; it is done not only by the infidel, but even by the brutes and wild beasts. But I say to you. Hear what I say to you says Jesus Christ; hear My law, which is a law of love: Love your enemies. I wish, that you, My disciples, should love even your enemies. Do good to them that hate you; you must do good to them that wish you ill, and pray for them that persecute and calumniate you; if you can do nothing else, you must pray for them who persecute you, and then you shall be the children of God your father: that you may be the children of your Father Who is in Heaven. St. Augustine then is right in saying that it is by love alone a child of God is known from a child of the devil. Thus have the Saints always done; they have loved their enemies. A certain woman had traduced the honor of St. Catherine of Sienna, and the Saint attended this same woman in her sickness, and ministered to her as a servant. St. Acaius sold his garment to succor one who had taken away his character. St. Ambrose gave to an assassin, who had attempted his life, a daily allowance, in order that he might have the wherewithal to live. Such may indeed be called the children of God. Is it a great matter, says St. Thomas of Villanova, that often when we have received an injury from anyone we forgive it at the suit of a friend who pleads for him? And shall we not do the same when God commands it?

Oh, how well grounded a hope of pardon has not he who pardons the man who has offended him. He has the promise of God himself, who says, Forgive, and you shall be forgiven. "By forgiving others," says St. John Chrysostom, "you earn pardon for yourself." But he, on the contrary, who will have vengeance, how can he hope for pardon for his sins? Such a person, in saying the "Our Father," condemns himself when he says: "forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us." Then, when such a person wishes to take vengeance, he says to God: Lord, do not pardon me, because I will not pardon my enemies. You give judgment in your own cause, says St. John Chrysostom. But, be assured, that you shall be judged without mercy if you show not mercy to your neighbor. For judgment without mercy to him that hath not done judgment. But how, says St. Augustine, how can he who will not forgive his enemy, according to the command of God, have the face to ask pardon from God for his offences.

If then, my brethren, you wish to have revenge, bid adieu to Paradise: Without are dogs. Dogs, on account of their natural fury, are taken to represent the revengeful. These dogs are shut out from Paradise; they have a hell in this life; and they shall have Hell in the next. "He who is at enmity with anyone," says St. John Chrysostom, "never enjoys peace: he is in everlasting trouble." But, Father, such a one has taken away my good name, which I will renounce for no one. Such is, forsooth, the proverb, ever in the mouths of those hellhounds who seek for revenge. He has taken away my honor, I must take his life. And is the life of a man at your disposal? God alone is master of life. For it is Thou, O Lord, that hast the power of life and death. Do you wish to take vengeance of your enemy? God wishes to take vengeance of
thee. Vengeance belongs to God alone. Revenge is Mine, and I will repay them in due time.

But how else, you say, can my honor be repaired? Well, and in order to repair your honor, you must trample under foot the honor of God. Do you not know, says St. Paul, that when you transgress the law you dishonor God? Thou by transgression of the law dishonorest God. And what honor is this of yours that you wish to repair? It is the same as the honor of a Turk, of an idolator: a Christian's honor is to obey God, and observe His law.

But other men will look down upon me; and so, for fear you should be looked down upon, you must condemn yourself to Hell. But if you forgive, the good will praise you; wherefore it is, that St. John Chrysostom says: If you wish to be revenged, do good to your enemy, because then others will condemn your enemy, and speak well of you. It is not true that he loses his honor, who, when he has been injured or insulted, says: I am a Christian, I neither can nor will be revenged. Such a person gains instead of losing honor, and, besides, saves his soul. On the contrary, he who takes revenge will be punished by God, not only in the other life, but in this also. He is obliged to flee from the justice of men, after having taken that vengeance which will render his life henceforward miserable. What an unhappiness to live a fugitive; to be always in dread of justice; always in dread of the kindred of his victim; tormented with remorse of conscience, and condemned to Hell?

And let us further know, my brethren, that revenge and the desire of revenge are alike enormous, are the same sin. Should we at any time receive an offence, what are we to do? When our passion begins to rise, we must have recourse to God, and to the most holy Mary, who will help us, and obtain strength for us to forgive. We should then endeavor to say: Lord, for the love of Thee I forgive the injury that has been done me, and do Thou in Thy mercy forgive me all the injuries I have done Thee.