Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Despite all my early Catholic schooling, it was only after I committed my life to God, and in particular to his son Jesus Christ, that I really came to an appreciation of heaven. Perhaps because we are called to grow in holiness throughout our life, it is fitting that I did not appreciate heaven until I committed to that growth. How I wish, however, I had deeply understood in my youth what I now perceive. My life might have been so different.

I had always believed that heaven was, well, heaven. God, angels and saints, all lie in a place of happiness beyond understanding – so I never really tried to understand it, and my education either gave me no framework, or it all went over my head (a distinct possibility).

I didn’t understand heaven, and my perceptions were much like everyone else’s, and I was equally perplexed. Angels, saints, etc. glorifying God for eternity? Huh? I would never have agreed with anyone who said it sounded boring, but well, in truth, I just didn’t want to think about it too much. I didn’t understand.

Meanwhile, when I eventually made that commitment to live my life with a goal of being who God created me to be, I began reading (and praying) in earnest to try to understand what that might mean. Along the way, I began reading some descriptions of heaven – the goal and reason for making my life a good one – which described my participation in heaven as being “deified”, becoming as God. As I read more and more, I found that description of heaven appearing more and more, and being described in more depth. And suddenly heaven made great sense to me, and – good grief!! – how much I now want to get there. I found that heaven is not just a place I want to get to when I die from this life, but a place I want to get to right now, while I live. And as many saints and the Catechism of the Catholic Church explain, I really can!

I’ve started reading a book called “Christ, The Life of the Soul”, by Blessed Columba Marmion. Blessed Columba lived from 1858-1923. Pope Benedict XV in describing this book said: “Read this – it is the pure doctrine of the Church.” The first chapter describes the Divine Plan of God. It goes into wonderful, clear, biblically-based depth that I won’t describe, but I think some limited quotes will convey the key message:

“The holiness to which God calls us is a participation in the Divine life brought by Jesus Christ. This Divine life God decrees creatures shall be called to share by elevating them above their nature; this is the grace of super-natural adoption.”

“To exist, God has need only of Himself and His perfections; He has no need of any creature, (but) God has decreed that we enter into a sharing of the inner life that belongs to Him alone; this constitutes our holiness. He has predestined us ‘to be His adopted children (Eph 1:5),’ to participate in this way in His own Divine nature: ‘partakers of the Divine nature (2Pet 1:4).’ God adopts us as His children. Participation in this Divine life is effected through grace, in virtue of which our soul becomes capable of knowing God as God knows Himself; of loving God as God loves Himself; of joying in God as God is filled with his own beatitude, and thus of living the life of God Himself.”

“Adam received for him and for his race, the grace that made him a child of God. But by his fault, he lost that Diving gift – for himself, and for his race too. It is through the Word Incarnate that God will restore everything. The Divine Sonship which is in Christ by nature, God’s own and only Son, that Sonship is meant to extend all the way to us through grace, in such a way that Christ, in the Divine thought, is but the firstborn of a multitude of brethren who are, through grace as He is by nature, sons of God. He has predestined us to ‘become conformed to the image of His Son, that he should be the firstborn among many brethren (Rom 8:29).’ We are here at the central point of the Divine plan: the Divine adoption. It is from Jesus Christ, it is through Jesus Christ, that we receive it. ‘God sent his son, born of a woman … to enable us to be adopted as sons (Gal 4:4-5).’”

“Our holiness is nothing other than that. The more we participate in the Divine life through the communication Jesus Christ makes to us of the grace which He ever possesses the plentitude, the higher is the degree of our holiness. All holiness that God has destined for souls has been deposited in the humanity of Christ, and this is the source at which we must draw.”

“Let us adapt ourselves to this Divine thought that wishes us to find our holiness in our conformity with Christ Jesus. There is (to say it again) no other way. We shall be pleasing to the eternal Father – and is not the very basis of holiness ‘to be pleasing to God’? – only if he recognizes in us the features of His Son. Through grace and our virtues, we ought to be so identified with Christ, that the Father, gazing on our souls, may recognize us as His true children, may take pleasure in that, as He did in contemplating Jesus Christ on earth.”

Now the book I quoted from gives much more detail, but the point shown in the first chapter is that heaven consists of our being deified, participating in God through His Son, Jesus Christ. All of God’s wisdom, His love, His peace will be ours. All my straining, with His grace now to know Him more, to love Him more, to have wisdom to know His will, all this earthly striving will be perfected in the end -- I shall be one with Him.

All I’ve been striving for here on earth, and want to the degree I can get it, will be perfected in heaven. Do I look forward to heaven? You bet I do!

And if my definition of all love and happiness is to be complete there for me, then of course I want you there also, my friends. I sincerely want you there to help complete my happiness.

I pray this has given you Hope, hope for the journey. Our hope is based on a truth we believe, and that spiritual truth, beyond our human understanding is revealed to us by Jesus. And Blessed Columba explains Christ’s revelation of God and His message to us so very well. I pray you hear His word in your hearts, and see His light in your souls.

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