Each of us chooses here on earth whether to live for Heaven or for Hell. Our choices in this life determine the eternal trajectory of our souls.
In her spiritual masterpiece The Interior Castle, St. Teresa of Ávila describes the levels of detachment from created things and increasing union with God.
The book breaks down the concept as seven steps, each described as a mansion. It starts at the soul seeking perfection by increasing in daily prayer and humility — with the intention to purge itself of everything that is not of God.
The final step, or mansion, describes a soul in sweet and profound union with the Holy Trinity — a state of being that is aptly described as Heaven on earth.
She had indeed reached those lofty heights of sanctity in life on earth. But it took much to get her there. In her autobiography, Teresa recounts how God revealed to her the place she would occupy for all eternity if she did not pursue a life of virtue and grace.
"While I was in prayer one day, I suddenly found that, without knowing how, I had seemingly been put in Hell. I understood that the Lord wanted me to see the place the devils had prepared there for me and which I merited because of my sins," she wrote.
The saint describes how, although she endured excruciating sufferings in her life, the pains of Hell are "unbearable," and that "they would go on without end and without ever ceasing."
Her visual description is harrowing enough, but the saint goes on to reveal the spiritual tortures as being the absolute worst part of damnation. She describes the situation of the damned as "a constriction, a suffocation, an affliction so keenly felt and with such a despairing and tormenting unhappiness that I don't know how to word it strongly enough."
Struggling to describe the sheer horror of it all, she observes that "it is the soul itself that tears itself in pieces."
The Evil One lies to people about how easy and readily obtainable eternal salvation really is. But he also claims that holiness is only for a few select people.
God, in fact, demands perfection and holiness of every single person. For the salvation and sanctification of all, He instituted the Church to provide the sacraments, including the sacraments of baptism, confession and Holy Communion.
Both God and Satan have prepared places for us in Heaven and Hell, but it's up to us to choose which place we want for our eternal dwelling.
Learn more by watching The Download—The Doctor of Prayer.