Friday, 12 October 2018

The Vision of God

"OK, so how do you conceive heaven?"   This question was asked of me this week by a young man who is struggling with issues of faith.  Here is a brief response: 

Heaven is the Vision of God.  

This presupposes being in a state to perceive God directly (which requires purification of vision for most of us). Heaven then is defined by the Church as a state of being, not a location.  

An analogy is the state of being in love. Love is not a visible location nor is it observable objectively — though there are strong indicators.  

Because most people are not prepared for the vision of God directly, the Church teaches that there is an “intermediate state” or what critics love to misinterpret — Purgatory i.e. the state of purification on the way to Heaven — a purification which does not stop at death. Some of us need a lot of work to prepare for the vision of God— personally speaking. 

The Church maintains that only saints are prepared by grace for the immediate vision of God. Naturally, we do not know all those who are saints; though we have a pretty good idea of those who are not — most of us. 

The good  news is that God loves all of us, all the time and keeps working on us to the extent we allow. Death does not end this communion of purifying love and grace. We pray for the souls departed with whom we remain in communion as members of the Body of Christ. 

The Church is morally certain only of those who are ‘canonized’ as saints  i.e. written in the canon or list of saints usually after long consideration; but there are undoubtedly many more. The Communion of Saints consists of all those (living or dead) on whose prayers we rely in our pilgrimage to what St. Augustine called the City of God. 

Light a candle and say a prayer for me. I do the same for you and others. 

God bless you on the journey.

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