Heaven Here?
Off the Wall, August 11,

A number of weeks ago, I happened upon an emergency scene where I observed two fire trucks, firemen and two emergency medical technicians not far from their ambulance.

I saw a small group of people and decided to chat with them a bit about the incident. After all, people who live nearby always have bits and pieces of information that isn’t always obvious to newcomers, or I like to call them, gawkers.

At first just the usual questions arose in people minds that they shared with each other. Then one of the women made a statement that I tried correct, but she just turned and walked away.

The senior stated, “We have to live day to day until we can get to heaven.” I tried to refute that. I guess she didn’t want to get into a discussion concerning such matters.

But it’s true. Catholics don’t have to physically die to go to heaven. A parishioner who believes the Holy Scriptures as the Word of God can experience heaven here.

In a statement Pope John Paul expressed before a General Audience, July 21, 1999, as taken from the www.ewtn.com/library, in sharing about his knowledge concerning the subject I tried to discuss with the elderly woman, he stated, “Heaven is neither an abstraction nor a physical place in the clouds, but a living, personal relationship with the Holy Trinity. It is our meeting with the Father which takes place in the risen Christ through the communion of the Holy Spirit.”

Patrick M Clark, Associate Professor of the Department of Theology/Religious Studies, at the University of Scranton in the city of Scranton, Pennsylvania, stated, “We become one with the reality that will be the source of our unending ecstasy in the life to come, and thus, we are beginning the life of heaven here and now.”

He goes on to say, “In the Eucharist and in the life of the Spirit as a whole, we receive a foretaste of eternal beatitude, and to that extent we can anticipate without presumption our full entrance into heaven one day. Yes, we should always pray for this grace to be preserved in us, and we can never assume that by our own power can assure ourselves of it, but nonetheless eternity encompasses and breaks into time through the divine mysteries of the Church.”

Now that may sound like a contradiction. But Professor Clark clarified his avenues of thought.

“I would say it’s both,” he said. “To the extent that we can have a foretaste of our final goal, the life of heaven begins here and now. The ‘seed’ is planted and begins to sprout even in this life. Yet, in this next life, after our earthly pilgrimage is over, we will experience this reality in its fullness. The seedling will then be fully grown; while it will be the same ‘plant,’ that started growing in this life, it will be vastly greater, richer, and fuller in the life to come. But, of course, that is all from our perspective. From God’s perspective, time exists within eternity such that the entire succession of moments we experience as our life is already fully encompassed by the single ‘now’ of God’s eternity.”

Ever since I heard, learned and gave my life to Jesus Christ did my relationship grow not only with Him but also through the understanding the Holy Trinity and the love each has for me.

By receiving the actual species of the Body and Blood of Jesus into my person on a weekly basis during Mass has actually resulted in my being in ecstasy.

Referring to the united States Conference of Catholic Bishops website from an article titled The Real Presence Jesus Christ in the Sacrament of the Eucharist: Basic Questions and Answers, Monsignor William P. Fay writes, “Recalling the words of Jesus, the Catholic Church professes that, in the celebration of the Eucharist, bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit and the instrumentality of the priest. The risen Christ is present to His Church…”

If we are relating with the Trinity as Pope John Paul expressed, we are in heaven. And how is one of many ways we do that? The first step is to believe every word when stating the Nicene Creed. Second, when receiving communion whereby the Eucharistic minister states “This is the Body of Christ,” or “This is the Blood of Christ, ‘mean it’ when “Amen” is stated.

- Paul J. Volkmann
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