In the Gospel of St. Mark, we hear Our Blessed Lord make a very frightening prediction about the fate of the damned. He says in reference to Gehenna (meaning Hell): "where the worm dieth not and the fire is never extinguished."
The fire part is more obvious, but the worm that never dies? What is that about?
The worm is a person's conscience, their everlasting shame, the guilt of their own choosing constantly burrowing into them, giving them no rest, no respite from the agony of shame. The word for "worm" in Greek is the word for "maggot," which feeds on festering flesh in a perpetual cycle of larvae and egglaying and new rounds of maggots feeding on their hosts.
And since Hell is continual, everlasting, so too will be the horror of the damned who will be forever subjected to the guilt of their own self-accusing consciences which they did not conform to the truth in this life.
We all know the feeling of shame, of guilt. When our consciences accuse us of some misdeed, some sin, the resulting feeling in our souls is awful. The difference between guilt on earth and guilt in Hell cannot be understated. On earth, time can have the effect of lessening the sense of guilt and of shame. Over time, a conscience can become dulled, even killed, to any sense of shame regarding sin.
Beware the man who feels no guilt. Healthy guilt is the correct response to the recognition of the evil inside. The man who feels no guilt is like Hitler or Stalin. But do not be deceived that a person has to be a megalomaniacal, murderous dictator to feel guilt. The lives of those individuals just happen to be where having no conscience met opportunity.
Many men alive today would be just as notorious if only the right circumstances had presented themselves. But absent those specific, world-altering circumstances, many men abandon their duties as fathers or husbands for the thrill of a sexual liaison. Many more walk out on their families to take up sexual relations with another woman.
These men feel little if any guilt for their actions and even rationalize their actions as good because they have found their soulmate, or rationalize the evil and blame it on their wives for gaining weight or not being understanding or a host of other reasons.
All the while, they bury their guilt or don't really have any because they are just little Hitlers who never got the chance to play out their own evil on a world stage. What happens to these men when they are damned to Hell, to Gehenna, where the flame is never extinguished and the worm dieth not?
Their consciences accuse them in the brilliant light of truth, which creates for them a neverending torment. They can ignore the reality of their sin perhaps while they live on earth, hampered as it is by space and time and incomplete knowledge. But in the glaring brightness of the glory of God at their judgments, they see their sin manifest in all its ugliness and reality and horror and revulsion. And they are locked in that self-torture forever and ever — the affairs they never repented of, the sexual liaisons never repented of, the abortions they were a part of and never repented of, the abuse of their bodies and minds never repented of.
Yes, the worm that dieth not! No rest, the fullness of the reality of the sin, always digging deeper, always burrowing more and more, each torment giving way, folding into further torment — and all the while, the knowledge that this was their own doing. Salvation — escape from all of this — was completely within their grasp.
Yet like a drowning man, they ignored the lifeline thrown to them, did not heed the siren call of warning to save their souls. So great did they esteem the pleasures of this life that they passed up eternal life for a few brief moments, and in the process, killed their consciences. But the conscience is resurrected in the next life and becomes the everlasting accuser in the next.
No rest, always weary, tossed about in the agonies of Hellfire, scorched from the outside, tortured on the inside. Indeed, where the fire is never extinguished and the worm dieth not.
If you are one of those stupid Catholics who has not been to confession because you have deadened your conscience, then wake up and fly to the nearest confession you can find. You can face and conquer your guilt in this world — or have it torture you forever in the next.
Get to confession.
And don't believe anyone — even a bishop — who tells you you have a reasonable hope that you and the rest of men are saved. No you don't, not if you have deadened your conscience and not repented of your sins.