It is tempting to say that heaven must be a place
so that the bodies of Jesus and Mary can be there.
According to the New Testament, glorified bodies
are both like and unlike normal, human bodies. The post-resurrection
appearances assure the apostles that this truly is Jesus.
St. Paul says that glorified bodies are not exactly
like human bodies. It [the body] is sown corruptible; it is
raised incorruptible....It is sown a natural body; it is raised
a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual
one (1 Corinthians 15:42,44).
Considering all that the Gospels say about
glorified bodies, it's not clear that they must occupy space right
now. That would remove the pressure for heaven to be a physical
place nowthough heaven is still very real.
Adapted from Ask
We dont get to heaven just by living a full
life on earth, though this is a popular opinion today. If we are
to listen to Jesus Christ, his Church and its Bible as our authorities
on how to get to heaven instead of popular fashionable opinion,
the way to heaven is not natural birth but spiritual rebirth. It
is not being born but being "born again of water (Baptism)
and the Spirit" (John 3).
Our entrance ticket to heaven is not the natural
immortality of our soul but the death and resurrection of Christ.
It is not our natural connection with Adam, who gives us our earthly
ancestry, but our faith-connection with Christ, who gives us our
heavenly ancestry by making us children of God. Shocking as this
sounds to modern nonbelievers, without Christ there is no hope of
heaven. This does not mean that non-Christians do not go to heaven,
but that Christ is in fact the only way there. Read John 14:6.
According to Christ, St. Paul, the New Testament
and the dogmas of Christs Church, the way to heaven is not
just being nice enough or good enough. (How good do you have to
be? Whats the cutoff point?) The way is Christ ("I am
the way"). The way is the death and resurrection of Christ.
Christ came to earth not just to take away our ignorance by preaching,
but to take away our sin by dying and to take away our death by
Adapted from Millennium
In the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, paragraph
16, the Vatican II Council Fathers wrote: "Those who have not
yet received the gospel are related to the People of God in various
ways. There is, first, that people to which the covenants and promises
were made, and from which Christ was born according to the flesh
(cf. Romans 9:4-5): In view of the divine choice, they are a people
most dear for the sake of the fathers, for the gifts of God are
without repentance (cf. Romans 11:28-29).
"But the plan of salvation also includes
those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom
are the Moslems: These profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and
together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind's judge
on the last day.
"Nor is God remote from those who in shadows
and images seek the unknown God, since he gives to all men life
and breath and all things (cf. Acts 17:25-28), and since the Savior
wills all men to be saved (cf. 1 Timothy 2:4). Those who, through
no fault of their own, do not know the gospel of Christ or his Church,
but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and moved by
grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through
dictates of their consciencethose too, may achieve eternal
"Nor shall divine providence deny the assistance
necessary for salvation to those who, without any fault of theirs,
have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God, and who, not
without grace, strive to lead a good life."
So the Fathers of the Council do not exclude
anyone acting in good faith from the possibility of salvation. They
do go on, however, to speak of the Church's mission from Christ
to bring the gospel to all people, for Christ is the source of salvation
for the whole world.
Adapted from Ask
The New Testament and early Christian writings
offer some evidence for purgatory. In 2 Timothy 1:18, St. Paul prays
for Onesiphorus, who has died. The earliest mention of prayers for
the dead in public Christian worship is by the writer Tertullian
in 211 A.D.
The question of purgatory and praying for the
dead was a major issue between Catholics and Protestants in the
16th century. The Council of Trents 1563 decree about purgatory
reaffirmed its existence and the usefulness of prayers for the deceased,
yet it cautioned against a certain kind of curiosity or superstition...
The Roman Catholic teaching on purgatory reflects
its understanding of the communion of saints. We are connected to
the saints in heaven, the saints-in-waiting in purgatory and other
believers here on earth. Prayers for the deceased are not a means
of buying their way out of purgatory.
The Catholic Churchs teaching about purgatory
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1030-32) says that all
sin, unfortunately, has a life of its own and may have bad effects
even after the sinner repents. Sincere repentance includes a desire
to repair the damage done by ones sins. That may or may not
be complete before the person dies.
When the world ends at the Final Judgment,
there will be only two possibilities: heaven and hell. We who celebrate
Jesus Resurrection over sin and death look forward to sharing
in that victory, and we pray that our beloved dead may do the same.
Adapted from Ask
respond to Friar Jack's reflections on "A
Salute to Pope John Paul II."
Dear Friar Jack: I am 44 years old and
my husband of 20 years, Jeff, is 46 years old. We were blessed with
six children ranging in age from 19 down to five. Our four oldest
daughters were at World Youth Day in Toronto. They had such a spiritual
experience that it touched all our lives hearing about it. I have
always been brought to tears upon spending time reflecting on how
our Holy Father has enriched my own walk personally with Christ.
I love what you wrote and I have no doubt that John Paul II will
also one day be canonized. I also know there are different types
of tears from the emotions we experience, and the tears from my
reflections of John Paul II are the REAL PRESENCE of the HOLY SPIRIT
IN MY SOUL.Lorraine
Dear Lorraine: Thanks for your description
of how Pope John Paul II inspired your four daughters in Toronto
and how they, in turn, carried that spirit back to you and the rest
of the family as if they had become co-evangelizers with the Pope.
And I believe with you that the tears from your reflections of John
Paul II were putting you in touch with the Holy Spirit who truly
dwells in your soul as in a temple! God bless your familyand
all our families.Friar Jack
Dear Friar Jack: Thank you for your E-spiration
on Pope John Paul II. He is one of the few that I consider my hero
and mentor in my personal relationship with Jesus. To me he represents
Jesus and the gospel by his endless example in reaching out touching
the lives of the people all over the world. His incredible faith
and strength as our Father touches the very core of my being beyond
Dear E.B.W.: Like the previous writer,
you seem to also be experiencing God's Spirit. When you speak of
being touched at "the very core of your being beyond explanation,"
that "beyond-explanation" is no doubt the Holy Spirit.
It's wonderful to savor and revere those experiences!Friar
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