HEAVEN: WHY ARE PEOPLE SO HAPPY THERE?          

StillCatholic.com 

 

Everybody knows that in heaven there will be no pain, no suffering, no death, no bad feelings, no mourning, no anxiety, no fear, no sin, no heartache or headache or flu or allergies or itchy nose. Just love, justice, mercy, friendship, and intense joy.

 

But the real reason people are so happy in heaven is that the most loveable person in the entire universe will be theirs, and they will be showered by love and gifts by Him eternally. If you’ve only met human people in your life, then this divine person, Jesus Christ, is really going to be something. He will steal your heart.

 

 One of our favorite activities in heaven will be singing praises to Him. As earthlings, it’s hard to imagine the pure bliss of that relationship. If you are married to the love of your life, then do you remember the minute right before you met him or her? At that moment, you probably could not have imagined that a person as wonderful as your spouse existed.

 

Likewise, as of today, we cannot possibly imagine the extent of God’s love or greatness. But the minute we meet Him face to face for the first time, we will have something that is a million times more spectacular than any relationship on Earth. We will have a life we do not yet have the capacity to imagine. We will long for nothing but Him, and this longing will be fulfilled.

 

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).

 

The above is probably all we need to know about heaven.

 

But here are some tidbits you may be interested in, especially if you hope to dwell there in the near or distant future.

 

In heaven, we will not be confined by time or space. In fact, time is a dimension created only for us Earthlings. In heaven, will not have to wait in line at the airport if we want to visit our cousins across the ocean. Rather, we will be able to communicate with others freely, without restraint. I would say it’s sort of like sending 100 e-mails to 100 different people at once, in full hologram, but without having to type anything. J

 

Ever wanted to watch every cable TV station simultaneously, including foreign language channels? This type of ability seems much more likely in heaven (not that there are any TVs up there).

 

What we know for sure is that our ability to process information will be greatly enhanced.

 

“…the Bible indicates that the glorified human intellect enjoyed by the saints in heaven has a phenomenal ability to process information, dwarfing anything we are capable of in this life. This is shown by the fact that, on Judgment Day, we will review every act of our lives” and of others, according to Catholic Answers (see catholic.com)

 

In heaven, we are promised we will see our loved ones who passed away on Earth.

 

In heaven, questions we’ve always had will be answered.

 

In heaven, we will experience the eternal wedding feast.

 

Everyone in heaven will love us and care about us, and vice versa. Nobody will have a single complaint about us. We will have no doubts that their love for us is sincere because the moral, spiritual state of all will be apparent to all, with the saints and martyrs having the highest degrees of glory shining through them, and with nobody at all having the slightest selfish or jealous thought left in them.

 

In heaven, we will not have to work to put food on the table or to pay bills. We will not have to do mundane things like take out the trash or empty the dishwasher.

 

But there will be things to do.

 

If there is “work,” it will only be of the most amazing, most fulfilling, most creative kind.

If you always felt your true calling was to paint or dance or do something more, then perhaps that’s what you’ll be doing in heaven.  What we know for sure, is that nobody will be working for self gain or selfish glory. In heaven, we will be ultimately fulfilled and perfected, sharing our gifts in the way we were made to. We will know what we were designed for.

 

Ironically, the more we labor for God on earth, and the more we give up our own ambitions in order to focus on others, the more fulfilled we will feel in heaven.

 

DIFFERENT REWARDS IN HEAVEN

For, in heaven, there are different rewards for different people.

 

John 14:2 “In my father’s house, there are many mansions.”

 

St. Augustine and other Church Fathers said that the many mansions refer to different levels of reward in heaven for different levels of merit acquired by believers on Earth.

 

St. Thomas Aquinas agreed, writing: "The more one will be united to God the happier will one be."

 

The Catechism of Trent puts it this way: [For in my Father's house, says our Lord, there are many mansions," in which shall be distributed rewards of greater and of less value according to each one's deserts. He who soweth sparingly, shall also reap sparingly: and he who soweth in blessings, shall also reap blessings]

“ Now this I say: He who soweth sparingly shall also reap sparingly: and he  who soweth in blessings shall also reap blessings.” [2 Cor 9:6]

Just as a person who longs and waits to be reunited with a spouse during a war, we on earth have been separated from the One who loves us more than anyone else (due to the fall of Adam and Eve). Our final destiny and fulfillment is with God. True and everlasting happiness can only be possible with Him. This is what our lives are leading up to. This is what we are supposed to be preparing for by being loyal to Him in all that we do. If you ever feel restless, it’s because you are not yet with Him.

 

We will see God face to face the minute we enter heaven.

 

It’s not really worth the time imagining what heaven is like. God tells us it is so great we just don’t have the capacity to envision it.

 

*Will we have our physical bodies in heaven?

Yes, on the Last Day, when Jesus comes to Earth to judge the heaven and the earth, we will be reunited with our glorified bodies. Before then, our souls will be in heaven, separated from our bodies, which will later rise. Or our souls will be in purgatory, being purged from any remaining sinfulness before entrance into heaven.

 

*Where is heaven, anyway? Well, we know it will be in a definite location. Some theologians think God will destroy the current universe and create a new heaven. Others say God will completely remake the existing Earth into a heavenly one.

 

*Will we still be married to our spouse? No, but we believe we will maintain a special relationship with him or her, and with all friends and relatives. Although we will not be married, we believe we will be even closer to our spouse and other family members than on earth. We will have deeper love for each other, as well as a deeper love for our family members and friends. We will be overjoyed to see them there.

*How hard is it to enter heaven, according to the Bible?  

"...how hard is it for them that trust in riches, to enter into the Kingdom of GOD? It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of GOD." (Mark 10:24-25)

"Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow is the Gate and straight is the way that leadeth to life: and few there are that find it." (Matthew 7:13-14)

"Lay not up to yourselves treasures on earth...But lay up to yourselves treasures in Heaven: where neither the rust, nor moth doth consume, and where thieves do not break through and steal." (Matthew 6:19-20)

*How does one enter heaven?

We must have faith, hope, and love. We must understand that it is not our own merits, but Christ’s, that allow us to inherit eternal life. We must say yes to God’s grace, which calls us to detach ourselves from the things of this world…money, power, fame, popularity and other earthly pleasures….and to help the least of our brothers, loving others more than ourselves.  Finally, Jesus promised eternal life to those who eat His flesh and drink His blood. (see John 6:54)

Those still attached to worldly things cannot enter heaven.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

Jesus enjoins his disciples to prefer him to everything and everyone, and bids them "renounce all that [they have]" for his sake and that of the Gospel.335 Shortly before his passion he gave them the example of the poor widow of Jerusalem who, out of her poverty, gave all that she had to live on.336 The precept of detachment from riches is obligatory for entrance into the Kingdom of heaven.

All Christ's faithful are to "direct their affections rightly, lest they be hindered in their pursuit of perfect charity by the use of worldly things and by an adherence to riches which is contrary to the spirit of evangelical poverty” (paragraphs 2544, 2555)

 

What does Claire find fascinating about theologians’ descriptions of heaven?

 

Well, I’m glad you asked. First, God the Father does not have a body, so we will not see him with our physical eyes, but rather in some more intense and all-consuming way.

So, what I find particularly fascinating are theologians who say God will actually be connected to our minds.  

Rev. William G. Most writes: “…Pope Benedict XII defined that when we see God, there is no image at all in between Him and us.188 How can that be? St. Thomas Aquinas made the obvious addition: If there is no image, then God must join Himself directly to our intellect to do the work of an image.189 That really is seeing "face to face."

              Now, this sort of vision is possible only for a creature that is part divine. Within the Blessed Trinity there are two infinite streams of knowledge and love. Chapter I of St. John's Gospel tells us that the Father speaks a Word. That Word is not the quickly passing vibration of the air that our words are. No, it is substantial and it fully expresses Him. It is a Divine Person, the Word, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. That is the infinite stream of knowledge, that IS a Divine Person. Between these Divine Persons there arises equally infinite love. Again, that love is no mere vibration, it is substantial, it is, again, a Person, the Holy Spirit, who IS the love of the Father for the Son, and the Son for the Father. [“Catholic Apologetics Today” by Rev. William G. Most, p. 159]

 

If our sanctification is not fully complete when we die, what will the final purging be like (before we enter heaven)?

Claire’s answer to this question is at http://www.stillcatholic.com/CATHPurg.htm

 

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FOR MORE INFO ON HEAVEN, SEE

http://www.catholic.net/rcc/Periodicals/Homiletic/04-97/1/1.html (Our Life in Heaven)

http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Rhodes/3543/heaven.htm

http://www.cin.org/users/james/ebooks/master/trent/tcreed12.htm (Trent on heaven)

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07170a.htm (Catholic Encyclopedia on heaven)

http://www.cin.org/users/jgallegos/heaven.htm (Early Church Fathers on heaven & hell)

http://www.cin.org/users/james/ebooks/master/aquinas/acreed12.htm (Thomas Aquinas on heaven and hell)

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

http://www.cin.org/users/james/ebooks/master/pius/pcreed12.htm (St. Pius X)

http://www.oldcatholic.com/saints.html (The Saints in Heaven Intercede for Us)

http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p123a11.htm (Catechism of the Catholic Church)

http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p123a12.htm#1042 (Catechism)

http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p1s2c2a6.htm#659 (Jesus ascended into heaven)

http://www.catholicculture.org/docs/most/getchap.cfm?WorkNum=212&ChapNum=24 (theologian William G. Most)

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BELOW, AUGUSTINE DISCUSSES THE MANY MANSIONS IN HEAVEN, AND HOW CHRISTIANS WITH GREATER MERIT (THOSE WHO LABOR HARDER WHILE ON EARTH) WILL HAVE GREATER ETERNAL GLORY THAN OTHERS IN HEAVEN (but all with any grace will go to heaven)

 

St. Augustine of Hippo: Tractates on the Gospel of John

TRACTATE 67 (JOHN 14:1-3)

But why have we this that follows, "In my Father's house are many mansions," but that they were also in fear about themselves? And therein they might have heard the words, "Let not your heart be troubled." For, was there any of them that could be free from fear, when Peter, the most confident and forward of them all, was told, "The cock shall not crow till thou hast denied me thrice"? Considering themselves, therefore, beginning with Peter, as destined to perish, they had cause to be troubled: but when they now hear, "In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you," they are revived from their trouble, made certain and confident that after all the perils of temptations they shall dwell with Christ in the presence of God. For, albeit one is stronger than another, one wiser than another, one more righteous than another, "in the Father's house there are many mansions;" none of them shall remain outside that house, where every one, according to his deserts, is to receive a mansion. All alike have that penny, which the householder orders to be given to all that have wrought in the vineyard, making no distinction therein between those who have labored less and those who have labored more: by which penny, of course, is signified eternal life, whereto no one any longer lives to a different length than others, since in eternity life has no diversity in its measure. 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

 (Source: Catholic Encyclopedia: http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1701067.htm)

 

No more time and space in heaven:

“But of this one thing be not ignorant, my beloved, that one day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” (2 Pet 3:8)

 

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A few more Bible verses on how we’ll be transformed in heaven:

 

“…it hath not yet appeared what we shall be. We know that when he shall appear we shall be like to him: because we shall see him as he is.” [1 Jn 3:2]

 

“But we all, beholding the glory of the Lord with open face, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord” [2 Cor 3:18]

 

“Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped” [Is 35:5-10]

 

“For where thy treasure is, there is thy heart also” [Mt 6:21]

 

“And night shall be no more. And they shall not need the light of the lamp, nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God shall enlighten then. And they shall reign for ever and ever” [Rev. 22:3-5)

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