Why on earth is it a good idea to think about, let alone meditate on hell?? The answer is simple - in order to avoid it. If we open our minds to the reality of this horrible place, and that we are only one mortal sin away from hell, we are more highly motivated to avoid sin & practice virtue. In our little struggles and strivings toward God, He who is Holy and Immortal will kindly bend Himself to us and pour His gracious love into our souls and strengthen it against the powers of hell. He will grant us the ability to avoid hell if we seek Him. "Seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you."
If we were perfect, we would love God for His own sake - this is the ideal we strive for. BUT - fear of hell is a good start on the spiritual path, so let us attempt to instill in our hearts a holy and reverent fear of hell. Seek God who we pray will kindle in us great faith and a lively hatred of all sin.
One of my favorite books, The Four Last Things (Fr. Martin von Cochem, O.S.F.C. TAN Books) provides many excellent meditations on hell:
"According to St. Bridget 'The heat of hell-fire is so great that if the whole world were wrapped in flames, the heat of the conflagration would be as nothing in comparison with it.'...Remember this O sinner and lay it well to heart. When thou seest a fire, call to mind the fire of hell. And since thou couldst not endure to put thy hand for a single moment into that fire, think what the heat of hell-fire must be..if thou canst bear this, how will thou bear the other? The damned will one day be cast body and soul into the huge awful furnace of hell, into the immense lake of fire, where they will be surrounded by flames. There will be fire below them, fire above them, fire all around them. Every breath will be a scorching breath of a furnace. These infernal flames will penetrate every portion of the body, so that there will be no part or member, within or without, that is not steeped in fire.
How despairing will be the cries, how agonizing the shrieks that will ascend from this bed of torture! 'Woe to us miserable creatures! Woe to us a thousand times! We are tortured in this flame! The excruciating pain pervades every member of our body, the intolerable agony leaves us no rest! If only we could die, if only we could die so as to escape this horrible torture! Alas this wish is all in vain! Dead as far as the life of the soul is concerned, dead because we have forfieted grace, the mercy of God-we are condemned to live on, to live forever and ever!"
We must pray for God's mercy on that fateful last day of Judgement. We must pray and pray for the conversion of poor sinners whose fate lies in those awful flames. Have pity on your fellow man who knows not of the mercy and love of God - who is at such great risk of casting himself headlong into the flames of hell when he sees with the eyes of his soul how rotten with sin he is at his particular judgement. Invoke our Blessed Lady, entrust yourself to her - she saves more souls from hell than we can know is this life!
Hail O Resurrection of mankind; Hail o Downfall of the demons! Hail O you who crushed the error of deceit; Hail O you who exposed the fraud of idols! Hail O Bride, and Maiden ever pure! O Thou who are Immaculate, destined before all time to be the Holy Tabernacle of the New Covenant - Ora Pro Nobis Maria!