Baby you’re heaven…heaven and hell
Yeah, you’re heaven…heaven and hell
U2 Heaven and Hell
What brings us to God? Is it fear, fear of hell? Or it it love?
Perhaps the answer differs, as our personalities differ.
Fear is something that turns me away. When I am fearful of things, I tend to withdraw. I pretend they are not there, not important. I pull away from that thing, that person, that event. Unless I make myself face that fear with some tough love…
It was not fear that brought me to God.
I know this is a personal response but it was faith and reason, love and intellect, research and history and a tug at my heart, that brought me to God. To the Church. Not fear of hell.
Where there is charity and wisdom, there is neither fear nor ignorance. St Francis of Assisi
I hope, too, that it is my love and concern, my friendliness, who I am and how I live, as well as my knowledge of and practice of my faith, that will bring others to God.
It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching. Another quote from St Francis.
This is not to deny that hell exists. Of course hell exists.
A lot of people have questions about heaven, hell and purgatory. To better understand hell, let’s review a bit. Everything about God and us centers on relationship. Heaven is complete and perfect union with God for eternity. Purgatory is union with God (through sanctifying grace), which is imperfect and incomplete. Purification from our sins then brings about a perfect union with God. In contrast, hell is complete, total and absolute separation from God for all eternity. Don’t think of heaven, purgatory and hell as physical places. View them as states of existence. Think of the time you fell in love and the total exhilaration you felt. Consider the moment a loved one died unexpectedly and the shock, loss and disorientation you experienced. Each brought about an internal experience that touched your whole being..
St Anthony Messenger
During one of his weekly general audiences our previous Pope, Pope John Paul II said that hell “is not a punishment imposed externally by God but a development of premises already set by people in this life….It is the ultimate consequence of sin itself, which turns against the person who committed it. It is the state of those who definitely reject the Father’s mercy, even at the last moment of their life….
The images of hell that Sacred Scripture presents to us must be correctly interpreted. They show the complete frustration and emptiness of life without God.
Rather than a place, hell indicates the state of those who freely and definitively separate themselves from God, the source of all life and joy….The thought of hell—and even less the improper use of biblical images—must not create anxiety or despair, but is a necessary and healthy reminder of freedom within the proclamation that the risen Jesus has conquered Satan, giving us the Spirit of God who makes us cry ‘Abba, Father!’ (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6).”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, ‘eternal fire.’ The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs” (CCC 1035).
Eternal separation from God. A horrible thought to be sure. So, now in this time of Advent, we can look at ourselves. At our relationship with God. And our relationship with others.
Preparation for Christmas is an important theme for Advent, but more is involved. Advent gives us a vision of our lives as Christians and shows us the possibilities of life.
The vision of life that Advent gives us is twofold; it looks back to the first coming of Christ at Bethlehem, and it looks to the future when Christ will come again. In the interval between these two events we find meaning for our life as Christians.
Advent is a time to draw closer to God and, perhaps, to help others, including our families, draw closer to God.
Advent is a time of joy tinged with penance. Joy, because we can imagine nothing more sweet than the Christ Child and His Mother happiness at His coming to light. Penance because we must strive to be properly disposed to receive so great a gift of His presence. In the millennial tradition of the Church, we faithful have done penance before great feasts. Christmas and Easter each have their penitential seasons in anticipation, Advent and Lent. The liturgical colour used in the Church for the liturgy during both Advent and Lent is purple, a sign of penance. Advent is a time of great joy, because we look forward to the beautiful feast of the Nativity, but it is joy stitched with focused spiritual preparation by doing penance.
Our family traditionally creates-an or buys-an or drags-out-the-previous-year’s Advent wreath on the first Sunday in Advent. This Sunday in fact. We choose our spiritual reading for the Advent period. We talk about giving up things for Advent, for others, for ourselves. Doing something extra, spiritually , practically. We start to think ahead to Christmas and the Nativity.
We remember heaven and hell. And peace on earth. And goodwill to all men ( ouch, my thoughts have not always been so charitable lately).
Baby, you’re heaven and hell.
I hope not!