Given from the Catholic Broadcasting Station 2SM Sydney Australia
Choose a topic from Vol 1:
Heaven is the destiny in which a human soul will, if saved, be happy in the clear and immediate sight of God for all eternity. Before the resurrection of the body the soul alone enjoys this vision of God; after the resurrection, the body will be re-united with the soul and will share in its glory and joy.
We do not go to the unknown, though we do go to the as yet unexperienced. Christ has revealed the essential elements of our future lot. Meantime heaven and hell are not our present thought-forms. Heaven is prepared independently of our thinking processes. Christ said definitely, "I go to prepare a place for you, that where I am you also may be." Thus our own thoughts do not make heaven. Also Christ said, "Depart from me you cursed into the everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels." Hell therefore is also independent of men's thoughts.
God has revealed the fact. "Be glad and rejoice," said Christ, "for your reward is very great in heaven." Matt. V., 12. That heaven is not in this life, nor is it to be on this earth. "I go to prepare a place for you. I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you also may be." Jn. XIV., 3. The conditions of heaven will differ from any we know in this life. "For when they shall rise from the dead they shall neither marry nor be married, but are as the angels in heaven." Mk. XII., 25. "They died . . . confessing that they are pilgrims and strangers on the earth. They that say such things do signify that they seek a country . . . they desire a better, that is to say, a heavenly country." Heb. XL, 13-16. And St. John tells us that, "God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes: and death shall be no more, nor mourning, nor crying, nor sorrow shall be any more, for the former things are passed away." Rev. XXL, 4.
I cannot tell you in terms of longitude and latitude, as we mark out places on this earth. Such terms suggest a place in space, and space is measured by distance, and distance in turn is calculated from the material conditions of bodies which have nothing in common with spiritualized beings. It is quite useless, then, to ask for an explanation of heaven in terms of geography and geometry. Such a request would be like asking for the geographical location of God. Spirit beings have no "where-ness" as we understand that notion. When Christ said, "I go to prepare a place for you, that where I am you also may be," He was speaking to human beings, and used a language they could understand, although it was necessarily an inadequate explanation. Heaven and our ideas in our present state have no really common ground to work upon.
If I did know, that would not make heaven any more real, and my not knowing does not make it less real. Heaven is no more destroyed by our ignorance of its "location" than New York would be because a school child could not say where it existed. Nor has the knowledge practical value for us. If a brick hurtles through the air and fractures your skull, killing you, it is immaterial to you whence it came. You are dead, and the brick was a fact. If a man dies in serious sin, he is in hell. It is immaterial where. His misery is a fact. If he dies in God's grace, he is in heaven. It is immaterial where. His happiness is a fact. God has told us enough for all practical purposes, and we must be content for the time being with as much as God has been pleased to tell us.
The ascension of Christ until a cloud received Him out of the sight of the Apostles was a phenomenon sufficiently clear to impress upon them some higher state of being. As a matter of fact He ascended only relatively to those who were watching Him. Our notions of ascent and descent are regulated by direction from the center of the earth. To the man on the opposite side of the earth the direction taken by Christ would be in the direction of descent. However, relatively to those watching Him, Christ ascended, and after a few moments they found themselves looking at a cloud. How far did Christ go? He merely allowed His supernatural qualities to assert themselves, and His body took upon itself in nature independent of all earthly conditions and limitations. He simply passed into another state of being, even as the thoughts incorporated in these words on paper are passing into another state of being within your mind as you read. And His new state at once renders useless all calculations based upon visible qualities as we know them. You might just as well try to measure abstract beauty with a wooden ruler. Christ's glorified body is not subject to conditions of which we have experience.
Heaven there means the heavens. Our Lord couples the expression with the earth, and predicts that the visible universe will undergo a great change. The heavens, or the whole universe together with the earth, will some day cease to be as we see them at present. The visible order will change, but the teachings of Christ shall not change, nor shall His predictions lack fulfillment in due course.
There is a big difference between imagining a future life and conceiving it. I cannot imagine or picture the future life any more than you can. The only images we could form would be derived from this life, and they would fit this life, not the next. Not without reason does God say, "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love Him." 1 Cor. II., 9. Yet although we cannot imagine what the next life will be like, we can conceive the fact that it will be, and also the intelligible. principles by which it will be governed.
In heaven we shall be with Christ and as Christ. This supposes conditions of which we have no experience on earth. It is little use guessing. We have but to accept the fact that there is a heaven, avoiding sin and serving God in order that we may attain to it. Speculate about heaven as we will, we must not miss our eternal happiness, for we cannot afford to be without it.
Let us take it for granted that she is aware of her child's sorrow. Could she be aware of it and perfectly happy at one and the same time? She could not, were she subject still to conditions of earthly life as we know them. But in heaven she is subject to entirely different conditions. Jesus Himself certainly knows of the child's sufferings, and He loves the child more than does the mother, yet is perfectly happy despite this knowledge and love. It must be possible, then, to be aware of a loved child's sorrow and yet to be quite happy in heaven. It may be explained as follows:—Even in this life we can love directly or indirectly. I may be very fond of a friend directly. By that very fact I am well-disposed towards anyone else who is dear to him, and if I meet such a one, say his mother, my love for my friend overflows to her. But it remains love of my friend directly. The mother participates in my love for him. Had I not that love for him, I would be indifferent to her. Now in heaven, the one absorbing love is love of God and that love renders one perfectly happy. All natural love is merged in that one great love as a drop of water in the ocean. A mother, then, is no more rendered unhappy by the knowledge of her child's suffering than God Himself could be rendered unhappy by it. Her outlook has changed. God's will makes her supremely happy. She realizes the spiritual and eternal good which God intends to draw from sufferings proper to our present state. And the conditions of her lot do not admit of sadness in any shape or form. We are dealing, of course, with a mystery, and cannot hope to comprehend it fully whilst still in this life.