What is heaven?
In the February 24 entry, “The afterlife and Christ,” I wrote, not based on knowledge of Christian teachings, but on my own experiences and intuitions:
My sense is that this idea of the afterlife [as a a glorious place where we fulfill all our desires and experience happiness] is incorrect. Or, at least, it is not the highest form of the afterlife. What can and should happen after death is that we are united with Jesus Christ, so that he becomes our companion and guide through these super-physical experiences….Then I wrote:
[Christ] does not eliminate our personal self, but shows us the true, higher way of that self through union with him, a union that does not cancel out our creativity and spontaneity, but increasingly harmonizes it with the divine will.Last night I was reading in the Catholic Catechism. I’m reading it because I am preparing to enter the Catholic Church. I know, that’s pretty surprising, given my long-time, extremely critical views of the Church, though mainly in its political capacity, not its spiritual capacity. But I have been unchurched for ten years now, ever since the Episcopal Church USA unambiguously ceased to be a Christian body, which was a very painful loss for me. Now that I am facing death, it’s high time for me to become a full Christian again.
In my reading last evening, I came upon Paragraph 1025 of the Catechism:
To live in heaven is to “be with Christ.” The elect live in Christ, but they retain, or rather find, their true identity, their own name.I was startled to see that, though I had never read this part of the Catechism before, my idea of heaven, of the kingdom of heaven, was exactly in tune with that of the Church. First, that the state of heaven is simply to be with and to be in harmony and union with Christ. And second, that the Church says, just as I had said based on my own non-instructed and somewhat idiosyncratic experience, that in union with Christ we do not lose our personal self, our unique individuality, but rather our individuality is fulfilled and completed in the truest sense.
Like your many readers, I have been deeply saddened by your deteriorating health and future passing. I will miss your writings and commentary, which have been very instructive for me.LA replies:
I am moving in the direction of entering the Church. But it’s not certain that I will. I need to pass certain requirements, including that I affirm certain doctrines that are required of Catholics. I am in touch with a Catholic priest, who leads a former Episcopalian / Anglo-Catholic parish which entered full communion with Rome four years ago while still keeping the traditional high Anglican liturgy. He extended to me the great privilege of visiting me last week and we had a good conversation.Jonathan J. writes:
I was very happy to learn of your entry into the Catholic Church. [LA replies: prospective entry.] I am also a convert, and you are correct that there is quite a lot to criticize politically and to be frustrated by. The Church is always in crisis, because it is full of sinners. But it is also divine by the charge of Christ, the protection of the Holy Spirit. However, the most important thing that exists is the Eucharist, which is the Sacramental Love of Christ. This is our connection to Logos, the order and reason of the universe, the Word that St. John preached in his Gospel. The Church offers us the fullness of this worship, which is only a glimpse of the summit of existence.LA replies:
It was the the traditional Anglican Liturgy of the Eucharist that made me a Christian believer 24 years ago, though I wasn’t baptized until nine years later..Alan M. writes:
Your experience sounds similar to mine and it was best summed up by G.K. Chesterton:Aaron S. writes:
You wrote:Michael R. writes:
I appreciate your genuine faith and marvelous ability to express yourself, and like so many others have benefitted from your blog. However, if a blogger maintains secrecy about a major influence on his life, which surely affects what he posts, then readers are not getting the full picture. I don’t feel miffed because we don’t need to know everything [LA replies: why should you even raise the question of being miffed? I only began to think of becoming a Catholic a week and a half ago, now I’m already announcing it.], but the decision to finally announce you are to become a Roman Catholic raises some issues of validity, especially about your criticism of the pope and Roman Catholicism. This is this true in light of the fact that you cannot change the excesses of the papacy nor prevent possible future ones, but have decided you can live with this scenario. It also explains the subtle criticism of the Catholic Church which I have noticed in your writings. [LA replies: there’s been nothing subtle about it.]LA replies:
I entirely reject what you say. It’s perfectly possible and valid to oppose the Church’s political teachings and role while being a good Catholic. Many Catholic VFR readers have said over the years that they agree with my denunciations of the Church, or rather of the popes and bishops in their idiot-liberal political pronouncements, while still obeying the Church insofar as its spiritual function is concerned.Michael K. writes:
God be praised for your apparent decision to enter the Catholic Church. I have been praying for this for some time now.Joseph A. writes:
Every time I see a new post on View from the Right, I thank the Lord that you remain with us, even if for a little while longer. I am grateful that you have enough strength to continue to order your affairs and to read. May you long be able to take advantage of good companionship, sound rest, and delicious food. I hope that your physicians have not reduced your diet to Jello!LA writes:
While I am thankful for readers’ good wishes and joy regarding my present direction, I want to point out that my report that I am considering entering the Catholic Church was a passing point in this entry (not, of course, that it was insignificant; I knew it would be big news to many readers), made in order to explain why I was reading the Catechism. The topic of the entry, which is more appropriate for public discussion at this site than my personal prospective entrance into the Church, is the nature of the kingdom of heaven.Sage McLaughlin writes:
When I read your blog entry I recalled the legend of St. Thomas Aquinas’s answer to the question Christ posed of him toward the end of his life, “What will you have of me as a reward?”Hannon writes:
Rejoicing in Christ seems to be conspicuous in these recent weeks, both here in our home and elsewhere. I think our spiritual goal is to align with the Holy Spirit and give ourselves over to our Savior. As they say, the choice to do so marks the point where things become more challenging, not less. That is certainly true in my case.March 7
This is very exciting for me to hear, Lawrence. I converted to Catholicism about three years ago, from the Episcopal Church. My experience of first encountering the teachings of the Catholic Church was extremely powerful; I described my experience as coming at last to see Christianity in “technicolor” rather than in “black and white.” I have been praying for you, not as diligently as I should, but this has been one of my intentions. And, I must also say, I cannot count the number of times that, as a Protestant, I thought I had come up with some deep new insight into the Bible or into the spiritual life with Christ, only to find it expressed, in more detail and nuance, right there in the Catechism when I decided to investigate Catholicism for the first time. God bless you, Lawrence.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at March 06, 2013 11:43 AM | Send