May 14, 2012
Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory- Through the Lens of Love

“Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee, O Lord” –St. Augustine

Our culture loves the idea of an afterlife.  The idea of a “better place” after our lives on earth has captivated the human imagination since the dawn of man.  Images of the afterlife are everywhere in popular culture; people laying on clouds, tiny demons with pitch forks, St. Peter and the Pearly Gates, are scenes we all recognize among many others.  Unfortunately though the popular culture does not reflect what the Church actually believes about the afterlife.  We have many misconceptions which can make the afterlife seem contradictory to what we believe, leading to doubt and cynicism.  I have found that the best way to think of “Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory” is to instead think of, “Love, the absence of Love, and learning to love.”

What is Heaven (Love)?  One of the first things to acknowledge is that Heaven is beyond our capacity to describe it.  Scripture has referred to it as a banquet, a wedding feast, the heavenly Jerusalem, among other images.  All of these descriptions give us an idea of what Heaven is, but they do not completely give us the essence of what it truly is.  Heaven at its core is life in communion with the Trinity, which is the ultimate expression of total self giving love.  This is why we say that God is Love.  “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” –St. Cyprian.    Heaven is not as the world portrays it, passively lying on a cloud while playing a harp; rather in Heaven we will find our ultimate fulfillment and joy.  This joy will never subside, never fade away, and never be taken away.  We will be enraptured into the mystery of Love as we see God face to face.

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September 7, 2011

‎”Every mother, when she picks up the young life that has been born to her, looks up to the heavens to thank God for the gift which made the world young again. But here was a mother, a madonna, who did not look up. She looked down to Heaven, for this was Heaven in her arms.” -Archbishop Fulton Sheen


‎”Every mother, when she picks up the young life that has been born to her, looks up to the heavens to thank God for the gift which made the world young again. But here was a mother, a madonna, who did not look up. She looked down to Heaven, for this was Heaven in her arms.” -Archbishop Fulton Sheen

(via asteadyinvitation)

July 19, 2011
Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory

Been seeing a lot of posts on Heaven and the afterlife lately, so I figured I’d share my handout.  Feel free to use it however you like!

“Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee, O Lord” –St. Augustine

Our culture loves the idea of an afterlife.  The idea of a “better place” after our lives on earth has captivated the human imagination since the dawn of man.  Images of the afterlife are everywhere in popular culture; people laying on clouds, tiny demons with pitch forks, St. Peter and the Pearly Gates, are scenes we all recognize among many others.  Unfortunately though the popular culture does not reflect what the Church actually believes about the afterlife.  We have many misconceptions which can make the afterlife seem contradictory to what we believe, leading to doubt and cynicism.  I have found that the best way to think of “Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory” is to instead think of, “Love, the absence of Love, and learning to love.”

Read More

4:17pm  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/ZYk13y7I9gLF
  
Filed under: Heaven Hell God Catholic Purgatory 
May 28, 2011
What are Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory?

“Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee, O Lord” –St. Augustine

Our culture loves the idea of an afterlife.  The idea of a “better place” after our lives on earth has captivated the human imagination since the dawn of man.  Images of the afterlife are everywhere in popular culture; people laying on clouds, tiny demons with pitch forks, St. Peter and the Pearly Gates, are scenes we all recognize among many others.  Unfortunately though the popular culture does not reflect what the Church actually believes about the afterlife.  We have many misconceptions which can make the afterlife seem contradictory to what we believe, leading to doubt and cynicism.  I have found that the best way to think of “Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory” is to instead think of, “Love, the absence of Love, and learning to love.”

Read More

March 30, 2011
Is Hell Crowded or Empty

Fr. Robert Barron weighs in

February 16, 2011
The Jewish Roots of the Eucharist

Great interview with the author of a new book that looks at the Jewish influences of the Eucharist.  How Jesus fulfilled the writings of the Old Testament by being the new manna and new creation of the world. 

2:20pm  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/ZYk13y36g5p8
  
Filed under: Jew Mass Catholic roots Jesus Manna Heaven 
December 7, 2010
"Nuestro destino es el cielo, y no necesita papeles para vivir en el reino de Dios ni para entrar el el cielo"

Bishop Steinbock, rest in peace.  The quote is an excerpt from last years Homily he gave on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  See the link

http://whispersintheloggia.blogspot.com/2010/12/fresno-mourns-and-socal-quakes.html

November 7, 2010
Love, the Absence of Love, and learning to love

Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory

“Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee, O Lord” –St. Augustine

Our culture loves the idea of an afterlife.  The idea of a “better place” after our lives on earth has captivated the human imagination since the dawn of man.  Images of the afterlife are everywhere in popular culture; people laying on clouds, tiny demons with pitch forks, St. Peter and the Pearly Gates, are scenes we all recognize among many others.  Unfortunately though the popular culture does not reflect what the Church actually believes about the afterlife.  We have many misconceptions which can make the afterlife seem contradictory to what we believe, leading to doubt and cynicism.  I have found that the best way to think of “Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory” is to instead think of, “Love, the absence of Love, and learning to love.”

What is Heaven (Love)?  One of the first things to acknowledge is that Heaven is beyond our capacity to describe it.  Scripture has referred to it as a banquet, a wedding feast, the heavenly Jerusalem, among other images.  All of these descriptions give us an idea of what Heaven is, but they do not completely give us the essence of what it truly is.  Heaven at its core is life in communion with the Trinity, which is the ultimate expression of total self giving love.  This is why we say that God is Love.  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” –St. Cyprian.    Heaven is not as the world portrays it, passively lying on a cloud while playing a harp; rather in Heaven we will find our ultimate fulfillment and joy.  This joy will never subside, never fade away, and never be taken away.  We will be enraptured into the mystery of Love as we see God face to face.

Communion through love is a two way street.  Though I can love someone unconditionally, I can not force someone to love me in the same way.  Love is a free choice of the will, if it is forced, it is not love.  Accordingly, the one thing that God cannot do is force you to love Him.  He loved us into being, and loves us unconditionally for all time, but He can not force us to love Him in return.  If Heaven then, is total union with God who is Love, then there must be the possibility of rejecting Love.  God does not “send” anyone to Hell, we choose Hell for ourselves by rejecting God, choosing not to live through love in Him.  Unfortunately some of us may have seen this in our own lives; some choose alcohol or drugs over their loved ones, others choose their career or material possessions over their friends and family, others choose to love themselves rather than others.  “The doors of Hell are locked on the inside,” –CS Lewis.  As much as a family may love a drug addict, until the addict realizes that they love their family more than the drug, they will never overcome their addiction.  Like wise, Hell is when we say to God, “I know you love me, but I love this [drugs, sex, money, fame, self, etc] more!”  God grants us our wish, an existence without the One who is Love.

Sometimes an addict realizes their faults, their mistakes, their weaknesses, and resolves to change themselves.  It is not an easy process, and there is a lot of pain.  We may realize the extent to which we unknowingly hurt the ones we really should have loved.  We might feel foolish for making so many mistakes or for ignoring the warning signs.  An addict’s loved ones may be willing to take the addict back, but they will insist that we go through rehab before we return home.  This is the true essence of Purgatory.  Purgatory is when we say to God, “I love you and want to be with you, but I need some help working through these issues”.  Just like rehab, we learn to fully love God rather than the thorns and issues that plagued us.  We learn to re-prioritize our wants and desires.  This requires soul searching, and we will have to deal past pain to understand why we acted the way we did.  In this way Purgatory is the place where we “learn to love”.  We cannot enter into communion with Love, if we cannot love.  God has given us a place where we can work on our issues before entering Heaven.  This is why we pray for those in Purgatory, to help them and aid them as they discover the true nature of love, just as we pray for those in rehab or the hospital.  Purgatory is a spiritual hospital where we learn to love, so that we can fully embrace the love that God is offering us.

As we can see, the three realms of the afterlife all exist because God loves us.  He has given us a place to be in total union with Him, a place without Him, and a place to learn how to love Him.  It is important to view the afterlife through the lens of love, because God who is Love desires all of us to be in communion with Him.  The three spiritual realms which we call Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory are the realization of this love that God has for us.

November 2, 2010
99.5% Won't Do- A Meditation on Purgatory

Msgr. Pope, as always, with a great meditation on Purgatory.  How it is a sign of God’s grace and love for us.

October 31, 2010
Saints

“I want to spend my heaven in doing good on earth” –St. Therese of Lisieux

One of the great things about being Catholic is that we believe that those who have passed away in Christ are still very much alive.  People in Heaven are not passively “floating in the clouds,” rather they behold and worship God, and lift their prayers to Him.  Everyone that is in Heaven is a saint.  Within that communion of saints, there are some whom the Church has beatified or canonized.  These are people who generally lived a life of heroic virtue, and the Church holds them up as role models to help and guide us on our faith journey.

Do Catholics worship saints?  No, worship belongs solely to God.  The respect and honor we show to saints is known as veneration.  We venerate the saints in the same way we venerate those we love, or objects which represent something important (such as a flag, tombstone, a battlefield, or a picture of a loved one).  In this way, if a Catholic kisses a statue or a religious artifact, they are venerating what the object represents, not the object itself.  This is an important distinction, because in pagan religions people would worship the idols themselves as gods, hence the prohibition against idol worship in the Bible.  Many people have pictures of loved ones who have passed on in their homes.  No one would say that we are “worshipping” them; however on their birthdays, important anniversaries, or when we are going through a tough time, we may focus on that picture and even hold it close to us.  This is not worship, it attests to the fact that the grave cannot stop love from being exchanged between those on earth and in those Heaven.

Why do we pray for the intercession of saints?  “Being more closely united to Christ, those who dwell in heaven fix the whole Church more firmly in holiness…. They do not cease to intercede with the Father for us” (CCC 956).  In life we often ask people to pray for us when we are going through a hard time, or maybe we pray for others who have asked us to pray for them.  Just as we can ask others on earth to pray for us, we can also ask those in Heaven to pray for us!  God can choose to work through a saint, just like He can work through us on earth.

What are Patron Saints?  Patron Saints are those who have become associated with a particular area of life as a result of something that has happened in the saints own life.  If a saint suffered from tuberculosis, for example, then they would seem to be a natural person to ask for help from if we are going through the same problem.  We do this in our everyday life, we regularly tell friends or those we know, “That sounds like a rough patch you’re going through; maybe you should talk to my friend who has gone through the same experience as you are.”  It makes sense on a human level, and we can relate to people who have gone through the same problems or experiences that we have.  There is a patron saint for countless different ailments, professions, causes, and experiences.  Do some research on them and you might just find someone in Heaven that you have a lot in common with!

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