Heaven is often misunderstood today. The secular world sees Heaven as nothing more than a happier place where we will be able to do as we like. But, Heaven is really the Beatific Vision of God. Heaven cannot be fully explained in this world. We will not know what it is truly like until, please God, we get there. Not all go to Heaven, but only those who love Our Lord, those who keep His Commandments within the fold of the Holy Roman Catholic Church, whether they belong to Her visibly or invisibly.
Sacred Scripture is replete with thoughts of Heaven:
“But, as it is written: That 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. 2:9
“Enter ye in at the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there are who go in thereat. How narrow is the gate, and strait is the way that leadeth to life: and few there are that find it!” ~Matthew 7: 13-14
Heaven is for those who love Our Lord and it was Our Lord Himself who said that if we loved Him, we would keep His Commandments. Only those in a state of Sanctifying Grace can enter Heaven, for no one can come before Our Lord with a stained, dirty, guilty soul.
The Apocalypse gives us a glimpse of the glory and beauty of Heaven:
“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth. For the first heaven and the first earth was gone, and the sea is now no more. And I John saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice from the throne, saying: Behold the tabernacle of God with men, and he will dwell with them. And they shall be his people; and God himself with them shall be their God. And 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.
And he that sat on the throne, said: Behold, I make all things new. And he said to me: Write, for these words are most faithful and true. And he said to me: It is done. I am Alpha and Omega; the beginning and the end. To him that thirsteth, I will give of the fountain of the water of life, freely. He that shall overcome shall possess these things, and I will be his God; and he shall be my son. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, they shall have their portion in the pool burning with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.
And there came one of the seven angels, who had the vials full of the seven last plagues, and spoke with me, saying: Come, and I will shew thee the bride, the wife of the Lamb.
And he took me up in spirit to a great and high mountain: and he shewed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God, and the light thereof was like to a precious stone, as to the jasper stone, even as crystal. And it had a wall great and high, having twelve gates, and in the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel. On the east, three gates: and on the north, three gates: and on the south, three gates: and on the west, three gates. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them, the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
And he that spoke with me, had a measure of a reed of gold, to measure the city and the gates thereof, and the wall. And the city lieth in a foursquare, and the length thereof is as great as the breadth: and he measured the city with the golden reed for twelve thousand furlongs, and the length and the height and the breadth thereof are equal. And he measured the wall thereof an hundred and forty-four cubits, the measure of a man, which is of an angel. And the building of the wall thereof was of jasper stone: but the city itself pure gold, like to clear glass. And the foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper: the second, sapphire: the third, a chalcedony: the fourth, an emerald: The fifth, sardonyx: the sixth, sardius: the seventh, chrysolite: the eighth, beryl: the ninth, a topaz: the tenth, a chrysoprasus: the eleventh, a jacinth: the twelfth, an amethyst. And the twelve gates are twelve pearls, one to each: and every several gate was of one several pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.
And I saw no temple therein. For the Lord God Almighty is the temple thereof, and the Lamb. And the city hath no need of the sun, nor of the moon, to shine in it. For the glory of God hath enlightened it, and the Lamb is the lamp thereof. And the nations shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth shall bring their glory and honour into it. And the gates thereof shall not be shut by day: for there shall be no night there. And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it. There shall not enter into it any thing defiled, or that worketh abomination or maketh a lie, but they that are written in the book of life of the Lamb.” ~Aposcalypse 1: 1-27
For eternity, the angels and saints sing the praises of God. Let us strive to be one of those who enter those gates, to be with God forever and ever. Our goal in life is to become Saints and to be worthy of Heaven. Who can fathom Heaven? Let us read the words of the Saints and Popes on this great mystery:
“A well-spent life is the only way to heaven.” ~Pope Leo XIII, “Immortale Dei”, 1885 A.D.
“Heaven is a state of everlasting life in which we see God face to face, are made like unto Him in glory, and enjoy eternal happiness.” ~Baltimore Catechism
“The happiness of heaven consists in seeing the beauty of God, in knowing Him as He is, and in having every desire fully satisfied.” ~Baltimore Catechism
“For there are different measures of life, and a good rewarder metes out to every man according to his deserts.” ~St. Cyril
“Can you expect to go to Heaven for nothing? Did not our dear Savior track the whole way to it with His Blood and tears?” ~St. Elizabeth Ann Seton
“…unless we gain Heaven, we shall be condemned to Hell: there is no middle place; we must either be saved or damned.” ~St. Alphonsus Liguori
“In heaven…man will not merely be able to persevere but will be unable to sin.” ~St. Thomas Aquinas
“The Saints have not yet their bodies in heaven, as they will have them after the resurrection on the last day. Our Divine Lord and His blessed Mother are the only persons whose bodies are now in heaven.” ~Baltimore Catechism
“The rewards of heaven and the punishments in hell are not the same for all who enter into either of these states, because each one’s reward or punishment is in proportion to the amount of good or evil he has done in the world. But as heaven and hell are everlasting, each one will enjoy his reward or suffer his punishment forever.” ~Baltimore Catechism
“Since in this life there is with us a distinction of works, in that other life there will undoubtedly be a distinction of honors, so that, because here one surpasses another in merit, there one will transcend another in reward. Hence Truth tells us in the Gospel, ‘In My Father’s house there are many mansions.’ But in those same many mansions the very diversity of rewards will be in some way harmonious, because in that peace so a great a strength will unite us that a man will rejoice because another has received even what he did not himself receive. Whence also those not laboring equally in the vineyard will all be paid equally a denarius. It is true that with the Father there are many mansions, but it is true also that unequal labors will receive the same denarius; for joyful beatitude will be one and the same for all, although the sublimity of their existence will not be one and the same for all.” ~Pope St. Gregory I the Great
“Above all, the state of grace is absolutely necessary at the moment of death without it salvation and supernatural happiness – the beatific vision of God – are impossible.” ~Pope Pius XII
“This truth is clearly conveyed by our Lord Himself, when, by a most beautiful metaphor, He calls the power of administering this Sacrament, the key of the kingdom of heaven. Just as no one can enter any place without the help of him who has the keys, so no one is admitted to heaven unless its gates be unlocked by the priests to whose custody the Lord gave the keys. This power would otherwise be of no use in the Church. If heaven can be entered without the power of the keys, in vain would they to whom the keys were given seek to prevent entrance within its portals. This thought was familiar to the mind of St. Augustine. Let no man, he says, say within himself: ‘I repent in secret to the Lord. God, who has power to pardon me, knows the inmost sentiments of my heart.’ Was there then no reason for saying ‘whatsoever you loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven’; no reason why the keys were given to the Church of God? This same doctrine is taught by St. Ambrose in his treatise On Penance, when refuting the heresy of the Novatians who asserted that the power of forgiving sins belonged solely to God. Who, says he, yields greater reverence to God, he who obeys or he who resists His commands? God commands us to obey his ministers; and by obeying them, we honor God alone.” ~Catechism of the Council of Trent
“The ultimate reward is the enjoyment of God.” ~St. Thomas Aquinas
“The chief things we should ask of God are His own glory, our eternal salvation and the means of obtaining it.” ~Catechism of Pope St. Pius X
“Sanctifying grace is necessary for salvation because it is the supernatural life, which alone enables us to attain the supernatural happiness of heaven.” ~Baltimore Catechism
“All would wish to be saved and to enjoy the glory of Paradise; but to gain Heaven it is necessary to walk in the straight road that leads to eternal bliss. This road is the observance of the divine commands.” ~St. Alphonsus Liguori
“The gate of the kingdom must be asked for by praying: it must be sought after by living properly; it must be knocked at by persevering. It is not sufficient to ask in words only if we do not also seek diligently how we ought to be living, so that we may be worthy to obtain that for which we plead, as he bears witness when he says: ‘Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven, he will enter the kingdom of heaven’ (Mt. 7:21).” ~St. Bede the Venerable
“The rewards or punishments appointed for men after the particular judgment are heaven, purgatory, or hell.” ~Baltimore Catechism
“If you truly love God and long to reach the kingdom that is to come, if you are truly pained by your failings and are mindful of punishment and of the eternal judgement, if you are truly afraid to die, then it will not be possible to have an attachment, or anxiety, or concern for money, for possessions, for family relationships, for worldly glory, for love and brotherhood, indeed for anything on earth. All worry about one’s condition, even for one’s body, will be pushed aside as hateful. Stripped of all thought of these, caring nothing about them, one will turn freely to Christ. One will look to heaven and to the help coming from there, as in the scriptural sayings: “I will cling close to you” (Ps. 62:9) and “I have not grown tired of following you nor have I longed for the day or the rest that man gives” (Jer. 17:16).” ~St. John Climacus
“A precious crown is reserved in Heaven for those who perform all their actions with all the diligence of which they are capable; for it is not sufficient to do our part well, it must be done more than well.” ~St. Ignatius of Loyola
“Let us think, if we only got to heaven, what a sweet and easy thing it will be there to be always saying with the angels and the saints, Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus.” ~St. Philip Neri
“He who beholds Heaven with a pure eye, sees better the darkness of earth; for, although the latter seems to have some brilliancy, it disappears before the splendor of the heavens.” ~St. Ignatius of Loyola
“O my dear parishioners, let us endeavor to get to heaven! There we shall see God. How happy we shall feel! If the parish is converted we shall go there in procession with the parish priest at the head. We must get to heaven! What a pity it would be if some of you were to find yourselves on the other side!” ~St. John Vianney
“The honor and glory of the saints surpass all eloquence, for God himself would praise all the saints with the whole world, all men and angels as an audience, and he will crown them like victors, and they will be seated on the throne of Christ as participants in his kingdom, something that surpasses every dignity.” ~St. Robert Bellarmine
“Hence, it is the Church, and not the State, that is to be man’s guide to heaven.” ~Pope Leo XIII, “Immortale Dei”
“You have the church which is a refuge, and, if I may dare to say so, is a heaven in miniature. You have a sacrifice offered up and consummated; you have the house wherein the Holy Ghost showers down abundant graces; you have the tombs and relics of the martyrs and saints, and many other things which should induce you to return from a state of sin and indifference to that of grace and justice.” ~St. John Chrysostom
Never forget that our life in this world is a test to see whether we really love God enough to want to be with Him forever. As the Baltimore Catechism states: “We are in this world to know, love and serve God and to be happy with Him forever in Heaven.” This is our life goal. Let us remain on and if we are not, to place ourselves on the narrow way of the true Catholic Faith so that we can arrive at the Kingdom of Heaven.
“Dearly beloved, we are now the sons of God; and it hath not yet appeared what we shall be. We know, that, when he shall appear, we shall be like to him: because we shall see him as he is. And every one that hath this hope in him, sanctifieth himself, as he also is holy.” ~1 John 3: 2-3
~Damsel of the Faith