One of the negative impacts of Christian hagiography is the false representations of Saints; of heaven and of hell. Some arts are known to depict saints in ecstasy or talking to God. This makes it look as if all saints saw visions or had extraordinary gifts. This is very misleading. Majority of saints never saw an Angel or heard voices from heaven. Most of them led very regular day-to-day lives and were blessed later on with the vision of God when they were already dead not when they were on earth. Like Mother Theresa of Calcutta says “do ordinary things with extraordinary love”. These saints were ordinary people who did ordinary things with extraordinary love.
Answering the Question
In the same vein, when people picture hell, they think the damned are being hit with rods and whipped by angels or demons or that God even occasionally increases the heat of the fires of hell to derive some joy from the sufferings of the people.
However, the Church teaches that the sufferings of those in hell are from themselves not by any external agent. :
“the damned will suffer in both mind and body, because both mind and body had a share in their sins. The mind suffers the ‘pain of loss’ in which it is tortured by the thought of having lost God forever, and the body suffers the ‘pain of sense’ by which it is tortured by the thought of having lost God forever, and the body suffers the ‘pain of sense: by which it is tortured in all its members and senses’ (Baltimore Catechism, lesson 7. question 380).
Pope John Paul II’s 1999 General Audience address on hell:
1. God is the infinitely good and merciful Father. But man, called to respond to him freely, can unfortunately choose to reject his love and forgiveness once and for all, thus separating himself for ever from joyful communion with him. It is precisely this tragic situation that Christian doctrine explains when it speaks of eternal damnation or hell. It is not a punishment imposed externally by God but a development of premises already set by people in this life. The very dimension of unhappiness which this obscure condition brings can in a certain way be sensed in the light of some of the terrible experiences we have suffered which, as is commonly said, make life “hell.”
Hell means that an individual vehemently refuses the mercy of God all through their lives and even at death. This means that God respects their decision to be away from his love for all eternity. No one causes the soul to suffer but the soul itself. God always wants man to be saved, however, eternal damnation is possible because the souls of the damned can no longer ask for mercy not because God stops being merciful. Every damned soul loses the light of God and are eternally barred from it. This is what hell is. Therefore, neither God nor the devil tortures any soul in hell, but the souls carry their pains themselves. The devil is also suffering and doesn’t know any joy either.
This response was inspired by a similar publication by Catholic Answers