“Deep waters cannot quench love, nor rivers sweep it away.”
(Song of Songs 8:7)
Ultimately we believe God’s plan for us is Love. The goal of the Catholic faith, the sacraments, the saints, the teaching, Mary, our liturgy, all of it is meant to lead us to heaven. What God finally desires for us is participation in his life, the life of love. Heaven is love in the fullest sense, love completed. Paul said that there are three things that last – faith, hope and love – and the greatest of these things is love. Love is the greatest because in heaven, faith and hope will fade away, but love will endure. Heaven is the “place” where everything that is not love has been burned away and hence heaven is the fulfillment of the deepest longing of the human heart. (Adapted excerpt from Catholicism, Fr Robert Barron)
Life after death
“Heaven is not escape from living here and now, it is precisely how to live here and now.”
Prof Peter Kreeft
We can perhaps imagine that life continues after death, in one way or another. Perhaps it is harder, however, to imagine that our body is raised to eternal life. We know our bodies very well. It is through our bodies that we interact with the world and each other. It is through our bodies that we experience pleasure and pain. But the fact is that it is our bodies that are to be raised to everlasting life and reunited with our soul on the last day. (Adapted excerpt from Call and Response, St Paul’s Publication)
What about Hell?
The Russian writer Dostoevsky spoke of hell as the constant suffering from our awareness of our inability to love.
There is a certain hesitancy to talk about hell. Few Catholic beliefs cause more objection and criticism today than hell. It is not difficult to understand why? People were sometimes scared as children with frightening images of hell without being presented with the much stronger reality of God’s mercy and the individual love for each of us.
We believe God’s plan for each of us is not hell.
“However, we cannot deny the possibility of hell: Jesus is quite clear that people may turn against God in their free choices and that God respects us enough to let us make choices. Love cannot be forced – there is no heaven against our wills” (Catholic Bioethics for a New Millennium. Bishop A. Fisher, OP, Cambridge University Press. 2012)