Heaven is Fullness and mystery of blessed communion with God. Heaven is said to be neither an abstraction nor a physical place, but it is a relationship between a person and the Holy Trinity. Tablan (2015) and Megivern (1978) explain that the goal of human beings in life is to enjoy the full communion with God which is achieved when one welcomes God to his/her life and opens himself/herself to His love. The Catechism of Catholic Church explains in detail that heaven is the fulfillment of the deepest human desires and the ultimate end, definitive happiness and the state of supreme. It is the communion of life, the perfect life with the Holy Trinity, love with the Trinity, with the angels, the blessed and the Virgin Mary. If we can try to understand heaven as it is in biblical teachings, heaven is joined to the Earth indicating that it is part of the universe, as God created earth and heaven (Genesis 1:1).
In another definition, Heaven is the transcendent dwelling place of the living God who is different from human beings. This definition or depiction is joined with story of Enoch who was a believer, as it is in the Old Testament accounts where through the grace of God, he ascended into heaven (Genesis 5:24). Thus we can say that heaven is an image of life in God. God is rich in mercy and His fatherhood is experienced through His son who was crucified and rose, He now sits on the right hand of the Father in heaven as Lord.
Heaven is considered as a state of existence, a state, rather than a particular place in the universe. The Catholic Church holds that by dying and resurrecting, Jesus Christ opened heaven to the believers and that heaven is a blessed and a glorious community of anyone perfectly incorporated into Jesus. All those who made it to heaven are Saints or the Church Triumphant, either recognized by church or not. According to Catholic teachings, before entering into heaven, those who died still imperfectly purified, must pass through a state of purification called purgatory.
UNION WITH GOD AND TYPICAL CONCEPTIONS IN HEAVEN.
Roman Catholic theology centers the union with Christ in a substantial sense on the unity of the church, the past and the present. The saint’s communion is a spiritual solidarity which brings together the souls in purgatory, the faithful on earth and the saints who are in heaven in the unity of the body under Christ. Christians are united to Christ through the sacraments according to Roman Catholic theology (Smith & De, 1893). Those who are united to God continue to joyfully fulfill the God’s word and will, in relation to all creation and other Christians in the glory of Heaven. In my opinion, when you do the will of God and you are committed and united to him, you shall reign with Christ forever and ever in heaven. God is great and He makes room in heaven for those who are united to him.
To be ‘in’ heaven is to be completely and totally united with God who is the source of all goodness and life for eternity. It is to be happy forever in every possible way and in a manner we can never imagine ourselves on earth. Heaven is happiness without end and unity between you and God. This union with God perfects us as humans, but in spirits and nothing could detract us from going to heaven.
Mother Teresa was a nun who started a mission to help the poor. She was a model of selfless love and so she loved and respected the poor. God is everywhere and as Mother Teresa tells us, He makes himself the hunger one, the naked one and the homeless one to help us to love.
We should begin loving at home through prayer which will always give us a clean heart to see God, and when we see God in one other, we will naturally start finding love for one another. The Lord loves us so much and we should understand this through his actions at the cross. God wants us to love one another as he loves each one of us. I agree with Liebard (1978) that we should love God, our families, friends and everyone else unconditionally. Loving and helping the poor, orphans and disabled shows the love we have for God. We should show true love even if sometimes it hurts, by giving whatever we have out of love to help those who are in need.
Thea Bowman was an African American nun who was filled with joy and was anything but cool and quiet. She taught that, Spirituality is biblical and contemplative and brings together imagination of memory and totality of minds, feelings and faith to religion. Spirituality leans on the Lord, knows how to step out in faith, and finds joy even when there is sorrow. Bishops are ordained purposely for the service of the people and the church. Upon preaching, 300 people in Africa converted into Christian every day, 75% of which became Roman Catholics. Thea Bowman says that black leaders in the church were invisible, this is because they were not consulted or included when it came to decision making. These leaders had this mission mentality that they felt they were not called and so they did nothing.
Within the black community catholic schools are the primary instrument of evangelization. We should go to church full functioning and participate in church activities fully. We should take all ourselves to church, what we are, what we have and what we hope to become in church. If as a church we became full-functioning, then we will fully understand we are taught and as a result, we grow spiritually at a personal level as well as the church as a whole. In the end, we become evangelists of Christ and spread the gospel further as Christians.
MY CORE THEOLOGICAL CONVICTION:
My core theological conviction simply details what I believe about God, salvation, obedience, faith, the Word, Holy Spirit, and God’s grace. According to Hardon (2011), God has a purpose which encompasses full restoration and a personal relationship with God. He does this through a process of salvation which puts me back into God’s plan. I believe that, in aligning myself to God’s plan and purpose, I submit everything to the Lord. When I want to do anything, then I have to be prepared to do it in God’s way.
I recall 2 years ago when I lived with my mother who was not working yet she had a lot of needs to cater for especially my education and other basic needs. My inner self was communicating to me demanding that I become responsible and seek for a job. Since we were on a holiday, I had to take up the challenge. Although my mother was objecting it, I had to continue with the plan since had no other alternative. I paid visit to a nearby hospital; I knew there was a higher possibility that I could secure a job there as a social worker. I met the Human resource manager confidently and laid down my challenges and requests. I could not believe that the first thing he asked from me was a bribe so that he could ‘fix things’ and quickly. I had no money to bribe the manager but I was so desperate for a job. I was tempted to borrow money from friends but then, I remembered that I was a saved Christian and that was not the right thing to do. It was against my Christian values. After hearing this, my mother encouraged me to continue believing in God.
I believe that when I do things in accordance to God’s will, He looks after me, protects me and provides me with anything that I need. I rely totally on God to take care of all my needs fully since He is the provider of everything. I believe in Holy Spirit who helps and leads me in every area of my life, the spirit holds me steady during challenges.
Faith is actually believing in God and taking Him at His word. It works itself out tangibly through obedience. I thank God for his amazing grace. Even in times of weaknesses and failures, His grace continues to be sufficient in men and sustains me in the journey of spiritual growth and maturity.
Catholic Church. (1997). Catechism of the Catholic Church: With modifications from the editio typica. New York: Doubleday.
Feduccia, R. (2006) Great Catholic Writings: Thought, Literature, Spirituality, Social Action. Winona, MN: Saint Mar’ys Press, Print. ISBN: 9780884896722.
Hardon, J. (2011). The Catholic Catechism: a contemporary catechism of the teachings of the Catholic Church. Image.
Leaflet Missal Company (Saint Paul, Minn.). (2000). Outlines of the Catholic faith: Teachings, beliefs, practices, prayers. St. Paul, MN: Leaflet Missal Co.
Liebard, O. M. (1978). Official Catholic teachings: love and sexuality. Wilmington, North Carolina: Consortium Books.
Megivern, J. J. (1978). Official Catholic Teachings: Bible Interpretation. Wilmington: McGrath.
Smith, S. B., & De, L. F. (1893). The teachings of the Holy Catholic Church: Embracing Her dogmas, sacraments and sacramentals. New York: Office of Catholic Publications.Tablan, F. (2015). Catholic social teachings: Toward a meaningful work. Journal of Business Ethics, 128(2), 291-303.
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