Catholic Fire tagged me with the Heaven Meme which asks but one question.
How do you envision Heaven?
Interesting question and one I have thought about. But I really don’t envision Heaven in any visual materialistic ways.
I mainly think of Heaven about what it means. Too often we are shown all those visions of heavens with clouds, cherub’s, Angels with harps etc. So much of the visual imagery of Heaven really does it a disservice and it is no wonder that many think of Heaven as something boring. In fact eternal boredom. We of course think of life by what we know via our senses and try to draw a parallel when we think of Heaven. So we try to imagine what we are doing now and continuing for ever or we see it as some utopia. St. Paul said "We see now in a glass darkly, but then face to face" and also that when he was taken up into the third heavens that he couldn’t describe it. Not having the same wisdom we try to describe what we haven’t seen.
When it comes to thinking about Heaven all my trust is in God. He knows us perfectly and also knows perfectly how to make us happy. The truth is that we were made for Heaven and we keep thinking we were made for the Earth. The idea that Heaven could be boring certainly shows a lack of faith in God. But maybe it is because so often we equate excitement and entertainment with sin. That it is the lack of sin that makes Heaven boring. That we see Heaven populated by Goody Two-shoes and we forget that to be fully human means to be without sin.
One of my favorite scenes in the movie The Passion of the Christ is the one with the playfulness of Jesus and Mary with Jesus splashing water on Mary. I for one would like to see more statues of Mary without her looking so dour. Sure some statues of her should show her sorrows, but I would like to see more that also shows her joy. St. Teresa of Avila was supposed to have said "God deliver us from sour-faced saints!" and I surely agree. Somehow we have confused holiness with grave seriousness – Mr. Spocks with halos.
What I do know about Heaven is simply that if I do make it see God face to face it will be with a smile on mine (at least after the resurrection of the body) and that whatever he has in store for me will be anything but boring.
I for one would like to see more statues of Mary without her looking so dour.
Great point. I would imagine that Mary, good Jewish mom that she was, followed Jesus on most of his treks through Israel and now and then after a particularly nifty miracle she might poke those near her and proudly announce “That’s my boy!”
Similarly she would have grinned and nodded approvingly upon hearing a profound parable or commandment, particularly at the Sermon on the Mount, thinking to herself, “I taught Him that when we were reading the Torah together.”
Santa Teresita has something there!
The official picture of Servant of God Fr. McGivney, founder of the Knights of Columbus, makes one think that this candidate for sainthood was about to bite someone.
Were the saints all unhappy?
One of the older devotions is “the Seven Joys of Mary”. There’s a chaplet for meditation.
There’s also a good number of folksongs about this devotion. Needless to say, the folksong list can be somewhat different than the chaplet list. 🙂
I find the fact it’s an _English_ folksong kinda touching, as it shows how these popular devotions survived in even the most trying situations.
An altarpiece on the Seven Joys of Mary
I used to think about heaven in a similar way as you have outlined, but now I have changed my mind over the past few years.
We have bodies. Heaven for a real human being is to be experienced by the body – our mode of being. Too often our culture accents the “spiritual” [I am on a crusade to get rid of this most understood word from contemporary Catholic culture]. “Spiritual” makes heaven no more than a vague ghostly albeit loving experiences.
Let’s get back to considering heaven as enjoying the ecstatic beatific vision of God with our bodies in a new creation with bodies! That being so, there is every reason to believe that we would experience the soaring flights and unimaginable power of, dare I say, The Incredibles, but with a bodily joy and bodily experienced love beyond our understanding.
These ideas will of course be considered “childish”, but then so is Michelangelo’s Last Judgment. Beware of the prevailing culture of “spirituality” which fundamentally denies the realities of being bodies needing redemption.
I’ve been a Knight for a couple of years, but I have only ever seen two photos of him and they were both of the serious variety. I think it just has to do with the time in which they were taken. I don’t think it was custom to “say cheese” back in the day.
We know that Saint Terese of the Little Flower was a very happy young lady (at times), but I haven’t ever seen a picture of her smiling either.
That being said, if you look at pictures of more recent Saints, they are often smiling. An example is St. Gianna Beretta Molla who is most often depicted smiling with a child or two in her hands. http://www.ctureview.us/Gianna%20Molla.gif
Also, any practical Catholic man over the age of 18 should give prayerful consideration to joining the Knights. It is one of the best things I’ve done. http://www.kofc.org
I realize that using reason to deduce things about heaven is as futile as using ears to see but there seems to be much theological and biblical evidence for the following…
1. In heaven we will have bodies
2. It is because of sin that we need to wear clothes to conceal our nudity in this fallen world
3. In heaven there will be no sin
4. It is love and not lust that allows men to appreciate the beauty of a naked woman’s body (lust prevents him from appreciating and serving the beauty and dignity of the whole person)
Does this mean that when a young man manifests an attraction for pornography, we should be telling him not to waste himself on such a shallow beauty because a much deeper and more exciting beauty awaits in heaven?
If a young man is suffering from addiction to pornography, he first needs detox before he can progress to fully understanding and experiencing the beauty of the human person outlined in the beatific vision.
If the man’s brain is fried, then any beatific visions will be spoiled by the images in his head. That will only cause dispair.
He needs healing first.
I’m not sure how rhetorical your question was however…
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