Keeping our Sights Set on Heaven
By Fr. Joseph Sergott, O.P.
What is the ultimate goal of our life on earth? What about when our life is over? Have we thought enough about the next life? And, how do our hopes for the next life influence our life on earth?
St. Paul says, “Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body… ” (Philippians 3:20-21a)
We also are quite familiar with another quote from St. Paul: “Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it so much as dawned on man what God has prepared for those who love him. (1 Cor 2:9) For, as Jesus says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Have faith in God and faith in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places; otherwise, how could I have told you that I was going to prepare a place for you? I am indeed going to prepare a place for you, and then I shall come back to take you with me, that where I am you also may be. (John 14:1-3)
In its glossary, the Catechism of the Catholic Church defines heaven rather succinctly as “eternal life with God; [a] communion of life and love with the Trinity and all the blessed. Heaven is the state of supreme and definitive happiness, the goal of the deepest longings of humanity.” (C.C.C., Glossary; Cf. #1023)
The Book of Revelation gives us a striking description of the blessed in heaven: “After this I had a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue. They stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice: ‘Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne, and from the Lamb.’” (Rev 7:9-10)
St. Thomas Aquinas speaks of the blessed life that awaits us in heaven. He states that it is fitting that the end of all our desires, namely eternal life, coincides with what we profess at the end of the Apostles’ Creed [and similarly in the Nicene Creed] when we say “We believe …in life everlasting. Amen.” St. Thomas says that in heaven, 1) we shall be united with God and shall see him face to face; 2) heaven will consist in the complete satisfaction of desire, for there the blessed will be given more than they wanted or hoped for, since only God can satisfy and infinitely exceed all other pleasures; 3) the blessed will possess God completely and their longing will be satisfied and their glory will be even greater; 4) whatever is delightful in heaven is there in superabundance; 5) eternal life will consist of the joyous community of all the blessed, a community of supreme delight …. Everyone will love everyone as himself, and therefore will rejoice in another’s good as in his own. So, that it follows that the happiness and joy of each grows in proportion to the joy of all. (Cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, Coll. super Credo in Deum: Opuscula theologica 2, Taurini 1954, pp. 216-217)
Many people see heaven as a place; but, perhaps it is more accurate to say that heaven is a state of being: when we pray, “Our Father, who art in heaven,” we are not implying that the Father lives “elsewhere” in a specific place (C.C.C., #2794); rather, we refer to “heaven” as a “communion of life and love with the Trinity, with the Virgin Mary, the angels and all the blessed.” (C.C.C., #1024) The Father, of course, transcends all things of time and space.
As Our Lord says, “Anyone who loves me will be true to my word, and my Father will love him; we will come to him and make our dwelling place with him.” (John 14:23)
The mysteries of the Rosary draw our attention to eternal life in heaven, reminding us that for those who die with faith in God, a state of blessedness awaits them. In the Glorious Mysteries we meditate upon the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and his Ascension into heaven. We also reflect upon the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven and her Coronation as Queen of heaven and earth.
Pope Benedict XVI says that the essence of heaven is oneness with God’s will, and in fact heaven is the place where God’s will is fulfilled. Therefore, he says that because Jesus Christ has done the will of the One who sent him (John 4:34), we now understand that Jesus himself is “heaven” in the deepest and truest sense because it is through him that God’s will is wholly done. (Jesus of Nazareth: Vol. I) Thus we call to mind the words of Christ himself: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:1-7) Accordingly, St. Ambrose says, “For life is to be with Christ; where
Christ is, there is life, there is the kingdom.” (St. Ambrose, In Luc., 10, 21: PL 15, 1834a)
If we don’t have the ultimate goal of heaven in our minds and hearts, then we risk losing our way. How can one live their life on earth if they don’t know what they are living it for? With the assurance of God’s love and guidance—“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16)—we can live life to the fullest with faith in God, knowing that when the time comes to depart this world, Our Lord will be there to greet us and welcome us home: “On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.” (John 14:20)
Note From Fr. Joseph
Dear faithful supporters of the Rosary Center & Confraternity, we are grateful for your support. There are three kinds of benefactors: those who support us financially, those who pray for us and those who volunteer for us. We could not do this ministry if not for our benefactors. Please join us in asking God to bless all of our benefactors abundantly. Let us also ask our Blessed Mother to intercede for them and watch over them and their families.
Blessings & Petitions Corner
Please pray for my nephew, who has been having trouble mentally, spiritually, psychologically and emotionally for about two years now. He’s frequently in and out of hospitals, three months ago he had an overdose with prescribed medicine and nearly died. Please pray for Our dear Lord to have mercy upon him and to restore him to good health. Please pray for all his family members, so we can have wisdom, peace and love for him. Diana, California
Please pray for me as I struggle to break out of a sinful lifestyle: that God’s grace will carry me and help me to live a life of holiness. I am also undergoing some medical tests and am deeply worried about my health. Please pray for God’s healing power in my life, and that no matter what I face, God will give me the gifts of faith and hope to move forward. F, Jakarta
Please pray to the Blessed Mother and to Bl. Fr. Solanus Casey for the healing of our daughter, Christine, who is very sick and in a lot of pain. After an unsuccessful surgery, she is now in palliative care. Angela, Pittsburgh
Your Help Needed
Please pray always for those who are in prison–it is our Christian duty. The Rosary Center is asking for financial help in order to send bibles, Catholic Catechisms, rosaries and pamphlets to the incarcerated. Any help would be appreciated. DONATE
Offerings From the Rosary Center
Fr. Joseph recommends these two classic titles available online at rosarycenterstore.org or by mail order.
The Rosary, The Little Summa by Robert Feeney. This fourth and enlarged edition is a compendium of papal teachings on the Rosary, and of Our Lady’s call for the Rosary in her apparitions. This volume of 351 pages contains lengthy meditation on each of the 20 mysteries of the Rosary. 4.3 x 8.9?. Paperback.
True Devotion to Mary by St. Louis de Montfort. Pope John Paul II said of this devotion “This perfect devotion is indispensable to anyone who means to give himself without reserve to Christ and to the work of redemption. It is from Montfort that I have taken my motto: ‘Totus Tuus’ (I am all thine).”