Well, I am finished with my session condensing… I guess that is what I would call that. If I can’t write my own piece right now, I’d like to quote a section on death and life after death. I think it could spark some conversation. I have never, in my life, understood life, death, what happens after death, purgatory, prayer for the dead… so many things. It’s as if a little window has opened for me and I must seek out fuller understanding than I have now.
In the past, I’ve some to view “the other side” much as a child must view “the other side” during the process of it ‘s being born from the womb. I think that is the perfect analogy, comparing the two. I like that perspective. The babe is frightened of the unknown, not knowing what is in store for it. The new world is cold and harsh, from what it has known in the warm, nurturing mother’s womb. We take our place, awaiting the unknown of death. Why do we fear it? I am thinking it is because this is the only life we remember and we are afraid of the unknown that awaits us. Sadly, we do not remember any of our other lives, or existences outside of this one. I do not know what I believe right now, but the idea of purgatory appeals to me as if for the first time hearing of it; but in truth, I’ve known about it my whole life. Even though we would not be in heaven, there is still hope that we will one day get there… and what is pain, other than the separation we feel from God?
The bold sections below are taken from the Catholic Catechism and the bold references are of sections of the Catholic Catechism. Technically, I did “type” it out:
“We believe that we are united to Christ, will rise with Christ on the last day, and “will appear with him in glory in his heavenly kingdom” (Colossians 3:4) (1003). This perfect life with the Most Holy Trinity—this communion of life and love with the Trinity, with the Virgin Mary, the angels and all the blessed—is called “heaven”. Heaven is the ultimate end and fulfillment of the deepest human longings, the state of supreme, definitive happiness (1024). By his death and Resurrection, Jesus Christ has “opened” heaven to us. Heaven is the blessed community of all who are perfectly incorporated into Christ (1026).
“But to rise with Christ, we must die with Christ (1005). Why are we often afraid of our own death? Death is not easy, because in many ways it is unknown. We try to flee from it and go to any extent to prevent it from happening until it touches our lives through the death of a loved one or through an illness or accident. Jesus promises that those who enter into death with him will enter new life. Death is a natural process, and we are encouraged to prepare ourselves for the time of our own death (1014). How important it is for us to embrace death with faith and hope! St. John of the Cross said so knowingly: “At the evening of life, we shall be judged on our love” (1022). It is a marvelous reflection to think that at the time of our death we will be asked: “How well did you love?” Since God is love, heaven is living in that complete love. To be devoid of love is to be excluded from God. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called “hell” (1033).
“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 (1035).
“In the beautiful mystery of the communion of saints, those still being purified from their sins in purgatory are linked together in a bond of love with the faithful on earth and those who have already reached heaven. In this wonderful exchange, the holiness of one profits others…(1475). By God’s grace, our prayers and words of charity can still affect the souls of persons who have gone before us, just as the loving care of those in heaven continues to be a blessing to us who still struggle in this world.
“Each of us has within us an innate desire for God, a desire to go home. When a child is born into this world, the child experiences the vastness and “coldness” of a world so different from the mother’s womb. So, too, when it is our time to die and enter into a new world, we may experience a resistance to newness, yet there is the wonder of so much more than we could ask for or imagine. It may be only after we have entered into eternal life that we will fully realize that we were only pilgrims on this earth.
“While it may be difficult for us to even imagine, we are promised that at the end of time, God’s reign will come in its fullness (1042). In the Book of Revelation (chapter 21), we are promised that in this new universe, God will dwell fully among us. The direct experience of God will wipe away every tear from our eyes and death shall be no more (1044). For us as human beings there will be the final realization of the unity of the human race that the Lord created (1043). For our universe, there will be a full transformation and fulfillment. We will no longer see ourselves as separate, but at one with God’s universe. We will dwell in harmony in this new heaven and new earth in which righteousness dwells, in which our happiness will fill and surpass all the desire of peace arising out of our hearts (1048).“