Catholicism - Now I Get It!

                  

Study Guide to CHAPTER 7: Now I Get . . . Heaven

 

HOW CAN YOU GET IT?

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION

Every member of the elect goes to heaven. Is it possible to go straight to heaven at the moment of death? If one still has sin on his or her soul, what will happen to the soul prior to entering heaven?

Are there people in heaven already? Besides humans, who else is in heaven? Do angels have physical bodies?

When will all human souls in heaven be reunited with their bodies? Does anyone already have his or her body in heaven?

Where on Earth do we get a true taste of heaven? (Hint: when we come in contact with Jesus)

What are some things we will be able to do in heaven that we cannot do on Earth? Is it possible to sin in heaven?

What is the Beatific Vision?

Salvation is by grace alone, and grace is a free gift that we first get in Baptism. Is it possible to lose grace? How? Will God offer it back to us if we lose it? 

Will some people be closer to God than others in heaven?

Can those are now in heaven help us on Earth?

 

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Suggestions for further reading:

Interior Castle by St. Teresa of Avila

Sermons of St. Alphonsus Liguori by St. Alphonsus De Liguori

The Four Last Things: Death, Judgment, Hell, Heaven by the Rev. Marin Von Cochem

The Story of a Soul: Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux

The Theology of the Body by Pope John Paul II

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Helpful entries from the online Catholic Encyclopedia.

Heaven  www.newadvent.org/cathen/07170a.htm 

Particular Judgment www.newadvent.org/cathen/08550a.htm 

Beatific Vision  www.newadvent.org/cathen/02364a.htm 

Angels www.newadvent.org/cathen/01476d.htm 

Guardian Angel    www.newadvent.org/cathen/07049c.htm 

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HELPFUL WEB SITES

www.catholic-forum.com/saints/ncd03850.htm (A definition of heaven)

www.stillcatholic.com/CATHHeaven.htm (Questions on heaven answered)

www.cin.org/users/james/ebooks/master/trent/tcreed12.htm (The Catechism of Trent)

www.cin.org/users/james/ebooks/master/baltimore/bcreed12.htm (Baltimore Catechism)

www.catholiceducation.org/articles/sexuality/se0055.html (John Paul II's Theology of the Body)

 

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SCRIPTURE

1 Cor 2:9  But, as it is written, "What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him"

1 Cor 13: 8-13   Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.  For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect; but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood. So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love

Mt 18:10  See that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you that in heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven.

1 Jn. 3:2 Beloved, we are God's children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

Jn 14:1-4:  "Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way where I am going."

Mt. 7:13-14  Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

2 Cor. 3:18  And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit

Isaiah 25:8-9:  He will swallow up death for ever, and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth; for the LORD has spoken.  It will be said on that day, "Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation."

Revelation 7:9  After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no man could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands...

Revelation 22:5  And night shall be no more; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they shall reign for ever and ever

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WHAT DID CHURCH FATHERS SAY ABOUT HEAVEN?

St. Augustine of Hippo:   "But the many mansions point to the different grades of merit in that one eternal life. For there is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory; and so also the resurrection of the dead. The saints, like the stars in the sky, obtain in the kingdom different mansions of diverse degrees of brightness; but on account of that one penny no one is cut off from the kingdom; and God will be all in all in such a way, that, as God is love, love will bring it about that what is possessed by each will be common to all. For in this way every one really possesses it, when he loves to see in another what he has not himself. There will not, therefore, be any envying amid this diversity of brightness, since in all of them will be reigning the unity of love. (Tractate 67 [John 14:1-3])    See full tract at www.newadvent.org/fathers/1701067.htm

 See www.cin.org/users/jgallegos/heaven.htm

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WHAT DOES THE CATECHISM SAY ABOUT HEAVEN?

1042 At the end of time, the Kingdom of God will come in its fullness. After the universal judgment, the righteous will reign for ever with Christ, glorified in body and soul. The universe itself will be renewed:

The Church . . . will receive her perfection only in the glory of heaven, when will come the time of the renewal of all things. At that time, together with the human race, the universe itself, which is so closely related to man and which attains its destiny through him, will be perfectly re-established in Christ.631

1043 Sacred Scripture calls this mysterious renewal, which will transform humanity and the world, "new heavens and a new earth."632 It will be the definitive realization of God's plan to bring under a single head "all things in [Christ], things in heaven and things on earth."633

1044 In this new universe, the heavenly Jerusalem, God will have his dwelling among men.634 "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away."635

1045  For man, this consummation will be the final realization of the unity of the human race, which God willed from creation and of which the pilgrim Church has been "in the nature of sacrament."636 Those who are united with Christ will form the community of the redeemed, "the holy city" of God, "the Bride, the wife of the Lamb."637 She will not be wounded any longer by sin, stains, self-love, that destroy or wound the earthly community.638 The beatific vision, in which God opens himself in an inexhaustible way to the elect, will be the ever-flowing well-spring of happiness, peace, and mutual communion.

1046 For the cosmos, Revelation affirms the profound common destiny of the material world and man:

For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God . . . in hope because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay. . . . We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.639

1047  The visible universe, then, is itself destined to be transformed, "so that the world itself, restored to its original state, facing no further obstacles, should be at the service of the just," sharing their glorification in the risen Jesus Christ.640

1048 "We know neither the moment of the consummation of the earth and of man, nor the way in which the universe will be transformed. The form of this world, distorted by sin, is passing away, and we are taught that God is preparing a new dwelling and a new earth in which righteousness dwells, in which happiness will fill and surpass all the desires of peace arising in the hearts of men."641

1049 "Far from diminishing our concern to develop this earth, the expectancy of a new earth should spur us on, for it is here that the body of a new human family grows, foreshadowing in some way the age which is to come. That is why, although we must be careful to distinguish earthly progress clearly from the increase of the kingdom of Christ, such progress is of vital concern to the kingdom of God, insofar as it can contribute to the better ordering of human society."642

1050  "When we have spread on earth the fruits of our nature and our enterprise . . . according to the command of the Lord and in his Spirit, we will find them once again, cleansed this time from the stain of sin, illuminated and transfigured, when Christ presents to his Father an eternal and universal kingdom."643 God will then be "all in all" in eternal life:644

True and subsistent life consists in this: the Father, through the Son and in the Holy Spirit, pouring out his heavenly gifts on all things without exception. Thanks to his mercy, we too, men that we are, have received the inalienable promise of eternal life.645

IN BRIEF . . . HEAVEN

1023  Those who die in God's grace and friendship and are perfectly purified live for ever with Christ. They are like God for ever, for they "see him as he is," face to face:598

By virtue of our apostolic authority, we define the following: According to the general disposition of God, the souls of all the saints . . . and other faithful who died after receiving Christ's holy Baptism (provided they were not in need of purification when they died, . . . or, if they then did need or will need some purification, when they have been purified after death, . . .) already before they take up their bodies again and before the general judgment - and this since the Ascension of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ into heaven - have been, are and will be in heaven, in the heavenly Kingdom and celestial paradise with Christ, joined to the company of the holy angels. Since the Passion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ, these souls have seen and do see the divine essence with an intuitive vision, and even face to face, without the mediation of any creature.599

1024  This perfect life with the Most Holy Trinity - this communion of life and love with the Trinity, with the Virgin Mary, the angels and all the blessed - is called "heaven." Heaven is the ultimate end and fulfillment of the deepest human longings, the state of supreme, definitive happiness.

1025  To live in heaven is "to be with Christ." The elect live "in Christ,"600 but they retain, or rather find, their true identity, their own name.601

For life is to be with Christ; where Christ is, there is life, there is the kingdom.602

1026   By his death and Resurrection, Jesus Christ has "opened" heaven to us. The life of the blessed consists in the full and perfect possession of the fruits of the redemption accomplished by Christ. He makes partners in his heavenly glorification those who have believed in him and remained faithful to his will. Heaven is the blessed community of all who are perfectly incorporated into Christ.

1027  This mystery of blessed communion with God and all who are in Christ is beyond all understanding and description. Scripture speaks of it in images: life, light, peace, wedding feast, wine of the kingdom, the Father's house, the heavenly Jerusalem, paradise: "no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him."603

1028   Because of his transcendence, God cannot be seen as he is, unless he himself opens up his mystery to man's immediate contemplation and gives him the capacity for it. The Church calls this contemplation of God in his heavenly glory "the beatific vision":

How great will your glory and happiness be, to be allowed to see God, to be honored with sharing the joy of salvation and eternal light with Christ your Lord and God, . . . to delight in the joy of immortality in the Kingdom of heaven with the righteous and God's friends.604

1029   In the glory of heaven the blessed continue joyfully to fulfill God's will in relation to other men and to all creation. Already they reign with Christ; with him "they shall reign for ever and ever."605

1051 Every man receives his eternal recompense in his immortal soul from the moment of his death in a particular judgment by Christ, the judge of the living and the dead.

1052 "We believe that the souls of all who die in Christ's grace . . . are the People of God beyond death. On the day of resurrection, death will be definitively conquered, when these souls will be reunited with their bodies" (Paul VI, CPG 28).

1053 "We believe that the multitude of those gathered around Jesus and Mary in Paradise forms the Church of heaven, where in eternal blessedness they see God as he is and where they are also, to various degrees, associated with the holy angels in the divine governance exercised by Christ in glory, by interceding for us and helping our weakness by their fraternal concern" (Paul VI, CPG 29).

2795  . . . the Father's house is our homeland. Sin has exiled us from the land of the covenant,56 but conversion of heart enables us to return to the Father, to heaven.57 In Christ, then, heaven and earth are reconciled, for the Son alone "descended from heaven" and causes us to ascend there with him, by his Cross, Resurrection, and Ascension.

Virginity for the sake of the Kingdom

1618  Christ is the center of all Christian life. The bond with him takes precedence over all other bonds, familial or social.113 From the very beginning of the Church there have been men and women who have renounced the great good of marriage to follow the Lamb wherever he goes, to be intent on the things of the Lord, to seek to please him, and to go out to meet the Bridegroom who is coming.114 Christ himself has invited certain persons to follow him in this way of life, of which he remains the model:

"For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to receive this, let him receive it."115

1619  Virginity for the sake of the kingdom of heaven is an unfolding of baptismal grace, a powerful sign of the supremacy of the bond with Christ and of the ardent expectation of his return, a sign which also recalls that marriage is a reality of this present age which is passing away.116

1620  Both the sacrament of Matrimony and virginity for the Kingdom of God come from the Lord himself. It is he who gives them meaning and grants them the grace which is indispensable for living them out in conformity with his will.117 Esteem of virginity for the sake of the kingdom118 and the Christian understanding of marriage are inseparable, and they reinforce each other:

Whoever denigrates marriage also diminishes the glory of virginity. Whoever praises it makes virginity more admirable and resplendent. What appears good only in comparison with evil would not be truly good. The most excellent good is something even better than what is admitted to be good.119

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Further Helps

The purpose of our lives is to prepare for eternal union with Jesus. What distractions in this world keep us from putting Jesus first? Do we sometimes care what other people think about us more than we care what we are doing to Jesus? Rewatch the movie "The Passion" as a reminder of what Jesus went through for us. Remember, prayer, acts of charity, penance and reception of the sacraments are good for the soul. They allow God to transform our souls into something more worthy of His presence.

Remember, the senses we now possess do not have the capacity to appreciate or even envision the wonders that await us in heaven. The glory that awaits us is hardly worth forfeiting for the temporary and fleeting pleasures and temptations on this Earth.

 

 

 

 

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