Posted tagged ‘Final Things’

The Saints’ Visions of Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory

November 18, 2012

Throughout the history of the Church, God has allowed some of the saints to see heaven, hell, and purgatory. Here are some of their visions:

When Mary appeared to the children at Fatima, she gave them a vision of the souls in hell, which reminded them (and us!) of the importance of remaining close to God and in a state of grace. Sister Lucia, one of the children, later wrote about the terrifying sight they saw: a “sea of fire” filled with demons and the souls of those who had gone to hell.

St. Teresa of Avila had a similar vision, and later wrote:
The fact is that I don’t know how to give a sufficiently powerful description of that interior fire and that despair, coming in addition to such extreme torments and pains. I didn’t see who inflicted them on me, but, as it seemed to me, I felt myself burning and crumbling; and I repeat the worst was that interior fire and despair.  (The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila )

St. Faustina had a vision of purgatory which reminds us of the importance of praying for the souls in purgatory:
…I saw my Guardian Angel, who ordered me to follow him. In a moment I was in a misty place full of fire in which there was a great crowd of suffering souls. They were praying fervently, but to no avail, for themselves; only we can come to their aid. (Diary, 20)

St. Thomas Aquinas, one of the greatest writers of the Church, wrote and taught many things about God and the Church. Toward the end of his life, while celebrating Mass, he had a vision of heaven. It was so beautiful that afterward, he said that it made all of his writing—some of the greatest writing in the history of the Church—seem like straw.

There are several mentions in Scripture about visions of heaven including Saint Stephen who saw the “glory of God” (Acts 7:54-55), Saint Paul who saw such amazing things that he could not even put them into words ( 2 Corinthians 12:1-4) and Saint John who saw every living creature giving constant praise to God (Revelation 4).

Although we cannot fully understand what heaven, hell, or purgatory is like, these visions of the saints shed a little light on the mystery and give us a glimpse of what to expect. They help show us what we can look forward to in heaven, and what we want to avoid in hell.

Looking for an upgrade?

November 17, 2012

We don’t typically link to outside articles, but this post by Monsignor Charles Pope asking “What Will Our Resurrected Bodies Be Like?” is so timely given this week’s Home Lesson, that I couldn’t resist.

As a theologian, Monsignor Pope feels the need to begin with caveats and disclaimers:

The fact is, a lot of what we are going to say here is speculation. But, it is not WILD speculation. It is rooted in Scripture to be sure. However, Scripture is describing things that are somewhat mysterious and difficult to reduce to words.

But once you get down to his list of seven qualities, it becomes a wonderful exercise in imagining just how amazing heaven will be!

Is there really a hell?

November 17, 2012

Make no mistake – hell is real, and some people really will choose to spend eternity there. The key word here, however, is “choose.” It is God’s intention and plan for everyone to live with Him forever in heaven. Some people, however, will freely choose to persist in mortal sin and will not accept God’s merciful love. They have made the choice to separate themselves from God forever.

We cannot be united with God unless we freely choose to love him. But we cannot love God if we sin gravely against him, against our neighbor or against ourselves: “He who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” Our Lord warns us that we shall be separated from him if we fail to meet the serious needs of the poor and the little ones who are his brethren. To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God’s merciful love means remaining separated from him for ever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called “hell.”  CCC 1033

Fixing your eyes on heaven!

November 15, 2012

This week’s lesson continues the story of the Marcus family, but this time with more discussion on our final choices: heaven or hell, and purgatory.

“If we have said yes to Jesus Christ during our life and have had faith in Him and have done what He wants us to do, we will obtain everlasting life with Him. We cannot imagine the wonderful things that God has in store for us.”  – Mr. Marcus

The focus of the story is on heaven and God’s awesome plan to get us there, and that’s exactly where we want to keep it!
Heaven is the place where we will receive the reward we’ve earned (big or small) for all the ways we’ve shown love during our time on earth. In heaven we’ll be reunited with everyone else who has gone there before us, we’ll meet our patron saints and guardian angels and, most important, we will finally get to see God face to face.

At some point, you’ll definitely want to make sure your kids have a good understanding of the reality of hell, but only after they know with absolute certainty that God has created each of us for heaven and He offers everything we need to get there.

Eye has not seen …

October 29, 2012

For the next two weeks we’re talking about the life we’ll live some day when we’re done on earth.  In my opinion, it’s very helpful to get a big-picture-overview, as in this lesson, but perhaps more valuable would be just making life in heaven (and hell and purgatory) a part of your everyday vocabulary.  There are many references in the Catechism and Scripture about the wonders of heaven:

Heaven is the ultimate end and fulfillment of the deepest human longings, the state of supreme, definitive happiness.

Eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, it has not even entered the human heard what God has prepared for those who love Him!   -1 Corinthians 2:9

That’s something worth talking about!  No matter how great our best day is on earth, eternity in heaven is a bajillion* times better!

[Excited exclamation]  “This is the Best Day EVER!”

[Confident reply] “I know!  It’s hard to imagine that heaven is going to be lots and lots better, but Jesus promises it will be!”

[Loving declaration] “I love you more than anything, Mommy!”

[Teachable Moment Mommy]  “I love you too and it’s going to be even more perfect when we’re in heaven together someday!”

[Sad-faced child] “It’s not fair!  The other kids wouldn’t share with me.

[Wise Daddy] “I’m sorry to hear that.  Some day in heaven everything will be perfect.  Until then, let’s see what we can do to make this better.

I’m not saying you should dismiss every little joy and sorrow while here on earth, but since we were created for eternal communion with God and heaven is our ultimate goal, it’s good to keep our eyes on the prize and heaven should become as real to you as what is happening here and now.

*Hey, it’s a real word!  I read it on the internet.  😉

November – Visit a Cemetary

November 11, 2009

This from Family Formation parent, Dana:

One activity that the kids particularly enjoy is visiting a cemetery and saying a short prayer.  My boys did a little math (figuring out people’s ages) and lots of reading.  They searched for tombstones with scripture (think Wog Log) and those who had served in the military (an opening to talk about serving others).  A friend mentionned that at a cemetery on Highway 96 in White Bear Lake there is a tombstone with a hand pointing up signifying “I’m not here, I’m with God.”

Teach them to be respectful but let them enjoy it in the spirit of celebrating our promise of eternal life – death’s a door, a transition, not an ending.  Visit different cemeteries during the month.


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