At Fatima, the Blessed Virgin Mary said: “many souls go to hell because they have no one to pray and make sacrifices for them.” How can this be? Why would God permit souls to go to Hell for this reason?
Over at The National Catholic Register, Mark Shea answers by saying that private revelation is fallible and we don’t have to believe what it says. Then he adds that the purpose of private revelation is just to call us to public revelation (Tradition and Scripture). That is a faithless answer. Shea is essentially saying that the words of the Virgin Mary are not true. Why? because he does not understand what she said. So many “teachers” of the Catholic faith today are without understanding. And yet they are full of answers.
First of all, no one goes to Hell except those persons who freely choose to commit actual mortal sin and who never repent through the last moment of life. And what Mary says does not imply otherwise.
Mary’s words are entirely true: “many souls go to hell because they have no one to pray and make sacrifices for them.” We are the body of Christ. And those who are not yet members of the Body of Christ, are called to become members. The path to salvation is individual, in the sense that we are each responsible for our choices in life. But the path to salvation is also corporate: we are called to assist one another in walking that path. If you have many persons assisting you, then your path to Heaven is easier: it is level and paved and well-lit. If you have many persons teaching you poorly and giving you bad examples, then your path to Heaven is more difficult: it is uneven and meandering and poorly lit.
You can still get to Heaven and avoid Hell if you have no one to pray and make sacrifices for you. You are able to pray and make sacrifices yourself. And Christ offers abundant graces from His Cross. Then, too, we have all received prevenient grace, which makes the free will truly free and which makes the intellect truly able to distinguish right from wrong, good from evil. Each and every person’s free will is capable of choosing good and of obtaining Heaven.
However, the path can become more difficult, due to the influence of sinners or the absence of faithful persons to pray and make sacrifices and provide good examples. But the path can become easier and clearer, if only we would avoid grave sin, pray, and make sacrifices for our neighbors. This truth is not unjust, because the path to Heaven is like the destination: it is filled with the love of God and neighbor. So no one should be surprised that the love of neighbor, expressed in prayer and self-denial, can assist others in walking that path.