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Been Thinking About Heaven

January 27, AD2014 7 Comments

\"Leticia

I have been thinking a lot about Heaven lately. I’ve been discussing it with my kids and my husband and here are some of the things that I have thought of. I am not a theologian, and I’m still a pretty new Catholic, so I could be wrong about it or it could be very simplistic or whatever, so please don’t think that I’m saying I’m some kind of genius and that any of this is absolute. They are just some things that I’ve been kicking around and have to get out. Writing is how I get things out.

Anytime that I go to a funeral there is this very common theme of “so and so is in a better place” or “so and so is with Jesus now” and I think that it’s so sad that so many people don’t have people praying for them if they are in Purgatory because it is assumed that they are already in Heaven. That is a theological problem, but what I don’t understand is people who don’t go to Church, say they aren’t religious and then say things like that. Why would anyone want someone they love to be with Jesus after they die if they don’t believe in Him? Or in Heaven where He lives? There is never a good time to ask these questions at a funeral because it would be unkind to do so. And it’s a sensitive subject because everyone has lost someone that is close to them that wasn’t close to Christ or going to Church. Plus the discussion can get so crazy when people on the opposite extreme start saying things that make it sound like anyone who isn’t the perfect Catholic goes straight to hell. To me, the “everyone is in Heaven” and the “nobody but perfect Catholic saints are in Heaven” groups are the opposite sides of the same coin.

I often find myself wondering why it is that people turn to God when someone close to them passes away. I know God made us that way, that when we are suffering we turn to Him because He is where we will find rest. It is a part of who we are that no matter how much we deny that He exists, it is still there. How we turn to Him might look different, but it is still turning to God regardless of what we call it.

The thing is that we have lost sight of who God is, what Heaven is and that if Heaven exists and Jesus is God then Hell exists as well and there are people who chose to go there.

God is our Father, he is not a dictator. He gave us free will to choose to love Him. He doesn’t force Himself on anyone and He doesn’t make anyone do anything. We have to choose to follow Him or to not follow Him.

Everything that we do in this life is a choice between serving God or serving ourselves. We also have to choose whether we are going to worship God or worship ourselves or other things, like idols.

With that being said, if in this life we choose to serve and worship ourselves then why would God, who is pretty big on respecting our free will, force us to live in Heaven to serve and worship Him forever? If He wanted to force us to do that, He would just do it now, not wait until we have lived this life and then force Himself on us. This life is where we choose life or death.

We have made Heaven into something it isn’t also. It seems that it is a popular idea to say that Heaven is whatever we love the most. That is not accurate since really Heaven is us loving God first and foremost and letting go of everything else that we love more than Him. For example, if you love money, you won’t be rich in Heaven, you won’t have all the money you can dream of there, you will get that loving and worshipping God is better than money. Substitute money with anything that we love and it’s the same difference.

I don’t know if it was the Reformation, rebellion against fundamentalism or the 60’s Free Love campaign, but people have come to think that following Jesus is all about unicorns, lollipops, singing kumbaya and everyone who passes “is in a better place” regardless of beliefs at the time of their death. Following Jesus is about making Him the Lord of our lives and that entails picking up our cross and following Him. It means dying to ourselves and loving God above all things: families, children, money, cars, power, popularity, etc. etc.

The evil one does not care if we say that we are Christians with our lips as long as we don’t testify to following Christ with our lives. That means seeking the truth on all things such as what Christ commands of those who follow Him and what is right and what is wrong. We can’t just go along with the fads of the moment of what is right and what is wrong, we have to learn how to know the truth, how to discern things.
I hear a lot of people who think that Pope Francis is a softy and doesn’t preach enough about the hard issues, and I really don’t know if they are reading a different Pope than I am because all I hear from him is how we need to be authentic Christians who live Christian lives not just say that we are Christians with our lips. That is not a softy position.

Authentic Christian lives are what will get us to Heaven, where we will love and worship God with the angles and saints forever and ever amen. I pray that is where we all want to go.

Filed in: Faith

About the Author:

Leticia is a convert who came into the Catholic Church at Easter 2010. She is the mother of 4 kids. She is homeschooling her youngest child, has two in Jr High and her oldest is grown up and about to have a child of his own this summer. Leticia is on her Pastoral Council, blogs at Catholic Sistas as well as her personal blog, is a full-time student, a wife, and helps with her parish's Jesus is Lord adult faith formation class and RCIA. In her spare time she sleeps.

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  • Phil Dzialo

    Interesting…I have no feelings about heaven, hell or purgatory. They never enter my mind and here is why. Heaven is a big carrot ; hell is a big stick. I cannot fathom of a God and purgatory because if you have many friends (money bought indulgences in the Middle Ages) people will pray and get you out quickly and the poor friendless homeless guy would languish there forever. Not logical? My personal philosophy is to live the most perfect worthy life I can (In my case I take care of a totally disabled son 24/7 for 16 years). Why would I need a heaven or hell or purgatory to sustain a life based on Jesus words…”Whatever you do for least of these ……you do for me? ” I have brought up my kids to simply live a worthwhile and other oriented life….that is living in heaven and the presence of the Source of which we are all part of. Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are “gods”‘? John 10:34

    • John Darrouzet

      Again, we come from different starting points, so the resulting analyses are understandably different. I would urge you to consider the book I noted elsewhere on this page. It may help you deal with a problem I see you having to plan for. There is the prospect you will die before your son does. Starting where I start from, you could continue to help him from Heaven.

      Here’s another book to consider:

      http://www.amazon.com/Pascals-Wager-James-Connor-ebook/dp/B002TS780Q/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1390837802&sr=8-2&keywords=Pascal%27s+wager

      It more fully addresses Pascal’s Wager:

      “Pascal’s Wager is an argument in apologetic philosophy which was devised by the seventeenth-centuryFrench philosopher, mathematician, and physicist Blaise Pascal (1623–1662). It posits that humans all bet with their lives either that God exists or does not exist. Given the possibility that God actually does exist and assuming the infinite gain or loss associated with belief in God or with unbelief, a rational person should live as though God exists and seek to believe in God. If God does not actually exist, such a person will have only a finite loss (some pleasures, luxury, etc.).”

      See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pascal%27s_wager.

      I’m sure you have already considered it, given the time you have put into trying to understand what is going on in your life. If you haven’t see it, then it may be something worth your time.

      If you have considered it, then I offer it here to help others who are reading all of this discussion. I do not want them to think yours is the only reasonable position that can be taken, especially in view of your situation and obvious conclusions coming from your starting point..

    • Phil Dzialo

      Thank you for your suggestion….although I believe in our past lives; which Adam and I have share many times…life is simply energy which makes us all one….as for Pascal’s wager, I believe that my explanation is simpler and free of many presumptions and interpretations. (Occam’s Razor) ..If I lose my bet, I still win (not that it is really important). We share some beliefs just use a different language. The language of God has changed in the 60,000 of human normalcy; yet God is still God. Many roads take us to our home…

  • John Darrouzet

    Excellent post to start an important discussion.

    After an episode at the hospital in a far away city, I began to think about Heaven more. Found this book and highly recommend it:

    http://www.amazon.com/Travel-Guide-Heaven-Anthony-DeStefano/dp/0385509898/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1390837140&sr=8-1&keywords=A+Travel+Guide+to+Heaven

  • David Peters

    Leticia thank you for this article. Your observations about the two viewpoints on heaven are right on. I love the lollipops and kumbaya! I’m glad our God is merciful to us! Right now I’m thinking of the liturgy of the Mass where we ask God to forgive us. I also appreciate you comments about Pope Francis. I think he is an excellent example of living the Christian life. God bless you and your family.

  • johnnysc

    And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.” John 8:11

    Many seem to ignore that second part. Jesus spoke much about the devil, hell and sin. I suspect for a reason.

    You are right that Pope Francis speaks about the hard issues. Here is one such talk that did not garner much attention.

    http://en.radiovaticana.va/m_articolo.asp?c=736378

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