Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Hard to Imagine the Afterlife?

With my last post being on Hell and mortal sin, I felt the need to revisit a post about Heaven:
 "Hard to Imagine the Afterlife?"
I know. St. Paul had the same problem though, “no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:10). Right now our knowledge of God is conceptual, we use analogies from this created world to speak of the Totally Other: “now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face…[we] shall understand fully, even as we have been fully understood” (1 Cor. 13:12). Don’t take this “darkness of faith” too hard though –we’ve all been through it before; and it turned out great.

None of us remember our first 40-or-so weeks, but they were lived in complete darkness. Our entire world was that wet, increasingly-cramped space inside our mom's womb. And we couldn’t even begin to imagine that there was this entire world, entire planet, awaiting us outside. We lived beneath our mother’s heart, exposed to its constant rhythm, and yet we had never seen her face! We had grown to recognize her voice, but we hadn’t developed to the point of understanding any of her words. And birth – talk about TRAUMA! All of that amniotic fluid we’ve been swimming in, gone in an instant; our heads compacted and squeezed through the birth canal; the light; the cold; that humiliating slap on the butt! But we finally entered the real world, finally got that chance to see mom face-to-face, to eat through our mouths instead of our belly buttons, and a million other experiences that we’re impossible to conceive of from the darkness of the womb.

Turns out that was just the warm-up; we’re still in utero, and the REAL world awaiting us "outside" remains inconceivable. We’re going to get the chance to enter it though; and just like before, we don’t have a clue when. This time around though, we get to participate in our own growth process. Each "yes" to God allows our spiritual "organs" to develop a bit more. If we haven't come to full term when the moment of birth arrives though, God has a top-notch NICU experience planned for us (the Church calls it purgatory; 1 Cor.3:10-15). Listen to the Apostle John:

"Beloved we are God's children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when [Jesus] appears we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who thus hopes in Him purifies himself as He is pure." (1 John 3:1-3)
The Prayer of St. Francis is right on the money, "It is in dying that we are born to eternal life."

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