Kathleen asks: In the story about the rich man in hell and Abraham and Lazarus in heaven, the rich man was aware of his surroundings. He knew who he was and he could feel pain. Do those in hell know who they are and do they feel pain?
Father Pete says: The faith of the Church reveals to us the reality that the person (the immortal soul) leaves us after death. It then experiences from God its particular judgement. If the soul is judged worthy, it enters into the Beatific Vision (heaven). If not perfected, it needs more purification in love (purgatory). If the person dies in mortal sin, his or her soul is condemned to hell by his/her own desire to directly or indirectly reject God. Therefore, the person knows himself/herself. And they experience the pain of eternal loss of God. The soul also experiences therefore the loss of all pleasure, the hideous presence of the demons, and the eternal pain of the incorporeal fire of eternal punishment.
Keep the questions coming!