He descended into Hell; the third day He rose again from the dead!
August 18, 2014
The Fifth Article of the Apostle’s Creed
” He descended into Hell; the third day He rose again from the dead “
when we hear the word “Hell,” I believe what comes to some peoples minds is the burning furnace of Hell, the smell of sulphur, where the demons of satan are running about everywhere, unchecked, tearing souls apart, limb from limb in an everlasting fire, howling and screaming, uneneding suffering and absolute hopelessness, deprived of ever seeing God. Something say, from the imagery detailed in Dantes Inferno, his Divine Comedy. Now, I must state this plainly, I do not suggest at all that this “Hell” is not real, however, this is not the “Hell” that we are going to be covering in the Fifth Article of the Apostle’s Creed. The Hell that Jesus descended into is also known as “the abode of the dead,” or the Limbo of the Fathers, or the underworld or Sheol in Hebrew, or Hades in Greek. This is the place, where the souls of the just were dwelling. The souls of the Old Testament Saints would have been there awaiting Our Dear Lords arrival. the souls of Adam and Eve, Moses, king David, Samuel the Prophet, Ruth, Isaiah, Daniel, Jeremiah, the Maccabean Martyrs, St Joseph and even St John the Baptist would have been their waiting for Our Lords arrival, and so many more. This Hell, was definitely a much better Hell to be in, than that other Hell that we will be discussing in another post. I believe this is why in more modern versions of the Creed we hear or read, that “He descended to the dead.” I have to admit, that I am not favourable to any change in any Creed or teaching to the Church at all, however, this particular change from the word “hell” to” dead” seems to make some sense and clear up a misconception. But, I still say “Hell” regardless! The word would never have to be changed to” dead” if ALL Pastors of souls didn’t shy away from the teachings of Hell and properly catechize ALL truths of the Faith and make the distinction between the two hells.
Jesus descended to the underworld after He died to visit the souls of the just who had died up to that time and were detained in the limbo of the Fathers. His descent was a manifestation of His power and authority over ALL Creation, including the underworld. Christ visited the just souls not with His body but with His soul, united with His Divinity, because Jesus truly died as we learned in the previous post. You may be asking, why would just souls be detained in limbo? Simple answer, sin! Christ came to save us from sin, He alone could open the gates of heaven to us and restore friendship with God, He is our Redeemer! If you take notice of the art I chose for this post, also referred to as “The Harrowing of Hell,” it shows the doors of hell busted down by Our Lord, and He is carrying the Standard of Salvation. Can you just imagine the joy that the just souls must have had when that door was smashed down by Our Lord. However, we have to remember a very important point; the souls of the just did not immediately enter heaven after Jesus preached salvation to them and gave them the Good News. The souls of the just in limbo, still had to wait 40 days until Jesus’ ascension into Heaven, only after that, were the souls of the just able to enjoy the Beatific Vision and have a true face to face with God!
Next post we will look at the second part of this article that deals with the Resurrection of Our Lord!
May God protect us from the world, the devil, and ourselves!
ps please continue to pray for our brothers and sisters that are still being persecuted in the Middle East, most especially in Syria and Iraq!!!!!