Think for a moment what the pain of fire means. A missionary in New York once said in his sermon on hell, "I will give five dollars to anyone in the church who will hold his finger in the flame of this candle for five minutes." Suddenly a lad jumped out of his seat and came trotting down the isle. He wanted to try it. It was a children's mission and the others began to egg him on. They were interested too. The missionary was so very surprised that he stopped his sermon. He took the boy into the sacristy and lit a candle. "All right, let's go," he said. Then the youngster changed his mind. "Do you mean all the way in." "Sure," said the priest with mock severity. "I guess not," said the boy, and withdrew his finger. And that, remember, would have been for five minutes only.
Now about the pain of loss. Perhaps this will give you and idea about it. A mother was once waiting in the anteroom of a hospital. Her child was inside on the operating table. The mother was waiting anxiously for the decision. The door opened and a doctor stepped out and beckoned her. Suppose now that the women, somehow or other, were held back, so that forever and ever she is forced to try to find out what happened to her child and cannot. That should give you and idea of the pain of a soul in hell trying to tell God that he is loved and being unable to do so.
Here is another example about the pain of loss. One summer evening there was a bright light burning inside the room of a house. Because it was summer the windows all had screens on them to keep the insects out. A moth, drawn by the light, came flying toward it and went smack against the screen. He tried again and again, struggling to reach the light, but the screen kept him back. How like a soul in hell struggling to reach God but being held back for all eternity.
These examples may explain the pains of hell. There is the pain of fire which torments the body and pain of loss which torments the soul. Only a foolish person would cast aside the love of God and the joys of heaven just for the sake of being punished. But but that is really what the sinner does. Nothing is worth the pains of hell.
King Henry VIII of England once asked the saintly Cardinal Fisher to leave the Church of Christ and follow the King's own church. Cardinal Fisher said, "I will do so if your majesty will answer me one question. "What question is that?" said the King. The Cardinal replied, knowing that to say so meant his death, "What doth it prophet a man if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his own soul?"
Source: "Heavenwords," Imprimatur 1941