Catholic Candle note: Catholic Candle normally examines particular issues thoroughly, at length, using the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas and the other Doctors of the Church. By contrast, our feature CC in brief, gives an extremely short answer to a reader’s question. We invite any readers to submit their own questions.
CC in Brief
Q. While sanctifying the Sunday at home, I recently read these words in a sermon on hell:
In hell, the damned exclaim with tears: “Oh! That an hour were given to us”. They would pay any price for an hour or for a minute, in which they might repair their eternal ruin. But this hour or minute they never shall have.
My question is: Do the damned in hell really long for a chance to repent?
A. No. The damned do not long for a chance to repent and to begin pleasing
God. They could never use that chance of repentance, even if it were somehow given to them.
Hell is not really full of repentant sinners. In hell, the wills of the damned are fixed forever in rejecting God and hating Him. The damned hate being in hell but would never have a change of heart and begin to love God, with sorrow for their sins, although the damned regret that they are being punished.
The damned hate God and don’t want to be with Him. They hate being in hell but do not want to be with God in heaven. They hate reality and would like to be in a (supposed) “paradise” without God (if that could be possible) and would like to be in a place of comfort and pleasure where they could continue to hate God and live a disorderly life. But the damned do not repent of their sins and do not want to repent.
With man’s fallen human nature, it is so common for sinners to delay repentance and to delay amending their lives. Throughout the ages, good priests have used various techniques to move sinners to cease delay and begin leading the Catholic life they know they should lead.
One method is to move sinners to repentance by raising the prospect of having waited too long and losing the chance to repent. In this sermon, these sinners – who tell themselves they will repent later – are presented with the prospect of having waited “too long”. Right now, in this present life, these sinners would regret having waited too long and being damned in hell forever.
So, this sermon is, in effect, placing before the listener the prospect of that delay and the regret they would feel now, if they knew their continued delay would eventually cause their damnation. That seems to be the intent of the sermon you quote.
 Here is one way that St. Alphonsus de Liguori, Doctor of the Church, teaches this truth:
Moreover, it is just, that as long as the sinner remains in his sin, the punishment which he deserves should continue. And, therefore, as the virtue of the saints is rewarded in Heaven, because it lasts forever, so also the guilt of the damned in Hell, because it is everlasting, shall be chastised with everlasting torments. ”Quia non recipit causæ remedium,” says Eusebius Emissenus, “carebit fine supplicium.” The cause of their perverse will continues: therefore, their chastisement will never have an end. The damned are so obstinate in their sins, that even if God offered pardon, their hatred for him would make them refuse it.
Quoted from St. Alphonsus de Liguori, Sermon 50, for the twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost.