Friday, January 13, 2017

Newman on/in Heaven

Prompted by a conversation on life after death on ABC TV--what a source--I wrote my second blog piece for the National Catholic Register in 2017, discussing the Catholic view of Heaven. I cited one of Newman's Parochial and Plain Sermons, among other sources:

Blessed John Henry Newman describes this standard of holiness in his Parochial and Plain Sermon “Holiness Necessary for Future Blessedness”:

"To be holy is, in our Church's words, to have "the true circumcision of the Spirit;" that is, to be separate from sin, to hate the works of the world, the flesh, and the devil; to take pleasure in keeping God's commandments; to do things as He would have us do them; to live habitually as in the sight of the world to come, as if we had broken the ties of this life, and were dead already. Why cannot we be saved without possessing such a frame and temper of mind?"

And then he makes the startling statement that “even supposing a man of unholy life were suffered to enter heaven, he would not be happy there; so that it would be no mercy to permit him to enter.” Newman comments that we can have the wrong idea about Heaven—that it will be a place of pleasure and satisfaction and then proposes a better way to think of Heaven:

"Heaven then is not like this world; I will say what it is much more like,—a church. For in a place of public worship . . . we hear solely and entirely of God. We praise Him, worship Him, sing to Him, thank Him, confess to Him, give ourselves up to Him, and ask His blessing. And therefore, a church is like heaven; viz. because both in the one and the other, there is one single sovereign subject—religion—brought before us."

So someone who has no thought of God, what Newman calls an “irreligious man”, would be miserable in Heaven: the Face of God and the worship of God “would be no object of joy to him”. On the other hand, if you are happy in church, at Mass, in Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, etc, you will be happy in Heaven, as Heaven truly is.

Perhaps that last sentence should have read "you may be prepared to be happy in Heaven, as Heaven truly is"; but what I have written, I have written! Please read the rest there.

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