Most people when they think of Hell see fire and brimstone; a place inhabited by the devil with horns. People envision a place, maybe even within the Earth, that people go to if they are evil in this life. Now there is evidence in the Bible of hell being referenced with fire but it is in those references that we need to understand what God is trying to tell us. He does not refer to a specific place that can be located on a map or by Siri. Rather, Hell is complete separation from God. Hell is a state of being one that does not include God which to our souls is like being put in a place of extreme torture and suffering.
Each time that we sin we choose our will over God’s; we choose to separate ourselves from God. St. John Paul II in one of his Wednesday audiences explained how “man, called to respond to Him freely, can unfortunately choose to reject His love and forgiveness once and for all, thus separating himself forever from joyful communion with Him.” In the plan of salvation God wants, desires, our participation in it. That is why He gave us free will so that we can choose to love Him. It is only in dying in a state of mortal sin, separated completely from God, that Hell becomes a reality. It is through the reception of the sacrament of Reconciliation and asking for God’s forgiveness and accepting His mercy and love, that we are able to reconnect with God.
So the quick answer to “what is Hell?” lies in our state of being= are we with God in His mercy and love (Heaven)? Or are we separated from God, who is the only solution to our longings and desires (Hell)? The choice is ultimately ours.