Heaven, Hell and love


#1

This is a question I picked up from an atheist forum. Although the one who posted it made a lot of wrong assumptions about what Heaven and Hell really are, and how people actually get there, something at the core of his question is still nagging at me.

It presented the following simple situation: mother dies, goes to Heaven, son dies, goes to Hell. How can a mother not be eternally grieved by the fate of her son, and what happiness can there ever be for her ?

In other words, what becomes, in Heaven, of the love we had for a person who eventually ends up away from God ?


#2

My first thought is all the more reason to continue to pray for our loved ones and continually evangelize to them.

As for the actual question, what strikes me is that it is grounded in this world. What I mean, is that the love we are going to feel in heaven for God, is like the ocean and the love we have on earth is like a drop of water.

Will our souls even remember our lives on earth is a better question. If we do remember our earthly life, then I am sure we will be sad about the loved ones in Hell, in fact I will sad for everyone in hell, because their is no worse fate for the soul.

I think Mark 12:18-27 might help explain this question, although it also will leave you with more questions, namely because we just can not comprehend Heaven.

18Then the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. 19"Teacher," they said, “Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and have children for his brother. 20Now there were seven brothers. The first one married and died without leaving any children. 21The second one married the widow, but he also died, leaving no child. It was the same with the third. 22In fact, none of the seven left any children. Last of all, the woman died too. 23At the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?”

This sets the stage for His answer. The Sadducees are wondering what is going to happen at the resurrection. We can think in the same way of what is going to happen to those that are not resurrected.

24Jesus replied, “Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God? 25When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. 26Now about the dead rising—have you not read in the book of Moses, in the account of the bush, how God said to him, 'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? 27He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are badly mistaken!”

So “life” is going to be very different. I know that I love my wife, but it appears that I will not be “married” to her in the afterlife.

From my experience with atheists or anyone that tries to rationalize God, what I have realized is that it is impossible for man who is finite to ever comprehend God who is infinite.

I hope this helps :slight_smile:


#3

I think that the mother would be totally consumed in the love of God, whom she now sees face-to-face, and her happiness would be complete. She would understand that God had judged justly, and that a person who had rejected God completely in his lifetime would not “fit” in heaven. As part of the communion of saints, she would probably pray for the conversion of other sinners.


#4

The distinction between natural love and supernatural love (a.k.a. charity or in Latin caritas, but that word has been watered down past recognition) seems to me to be pivotal. Natural love is the love we all have, naturally, for our family, friends, etc. It can be very powerful. But we can also love them and God with a supernatural love that is infused into our souls by God's grace. By the time we make it to Heaven, we will love with the love with which God loves us, and we will love others as He loves them. I don't suppose it's possible to really understand what that will be like, without experiencing it.

I have to disagree with chessmane4e5's assertion that those in Heaven will be sad about the people in Hell. I could be wrong, but all the theology I have read says this is not the case.


#5

I was only saying that if we still remember our past lives. I was just saying it may be possible, but it is not like we will be sitting in Heaven depressed because some loved ones didn’t make it. PhilotheaZ said it best

She would understand that God had judged justly, and that a person who had rejected God completely in his lifetime would not “fit” in heaven.

I actually thought most of my post agree with what you said, but I did write a lot, so maybe I was wondering.


#6

[quote="chessmane4e5, post:5, topic:181992"]
I was only saying that if we still remember our past lives. I was just saying it may be possible, but it is not like we will be sitting in Heaven depressed because some loved ones didn't make it..

[/quote]

My understanding is that we WILL know our loved ones, in Heaven and in Hell. We will accept the choice that they made with their free will.


#7

[quote="Erethorn, post:1, topic:181992"]
This is a question I picked up from an atheist forum. Although the one who posted it made a lot of wrong assumptions about what Heaven and Hell really are, and how people actually get there, something at the core of his question is still nagging at me.

It presented the following simple situation: mother dies, goes to Heaven, son dies, goes to Hell. How can a mother not be eternally grieved by the fate of her son, and what happiness can there ever be for her ?

In other words, what becomes, in Heaven, of the love we had for a person who eventually ends up away from God ?

[/quote]

The answer to this question is deeply tied up with the nature of Heaven and Hell. Heaven is union with God. Hell is separation from God. God is Love. All goodness on Earth is an outpouring of God's nature, since He is Love itself. All our virtue comes from God and is unity with God. All our sin is self-chosen separation from God, Love.

Heaven or Hell are the end of the journey we choose for ourselves on Earth. If we choose, through unloving acts, separation from love, we will in the end of our journey receive complete separation from Love. If we choose, through our loving acts, union with love, we will in the end of our journey receive complete union with Love. These "loving acts" must of course be the life of Christ Jesus in us, union with, belief in and submission to Christ Jesus, for He is Love itself made present among us and any division from Him is division from the true nature of love.

No one truly loves what is evil. People love what is good. As the Psalms say, "hate what is evil, love what is good." In this world, every human being has a mingling of good and evil within them because we are all on the journey still; we haven't reached the final destination. Therefore God can be seen in everyone in some way and should be loved. "Love the sinner, hate the sin," as St. Augustine put it. In this way, we are loving God (Matt. 25).

When life ends, things change. Each person receives the completeness of what they chose in life. As St. Paul says, "each man reaps what he sows." People that chose separation from Love receive complete separation from God. They chose to reject God, Love, in life, and so they "live" (I don't even like to call it life; the Bible calls it "the second death") without Him in their final destination. Since all virtue and love and goodness flow from God and the damned have separated themselves completely from Him, they are entirely without redeeming qualities. There is nothing good at all in them. They would be almost unrecognizable to the people who knew them on Earth.

People in Heaven will feel pity for those on their way to Hell because they still have the presence of God within them. Someone who has become in nature akin to the demons is no longer loveable, though, because they have entirely abandoned and rejected the nature of Love. Evil is not itself loveable. We can't love evil, and evil is all that can be left in a creature from which Love is completely removed. The unbearable agonies of Hell are all chosen by the creatures that go there and are logical and necessary consequences of complete separation from the presence of God.

It is a just punishment for their unspeakably evil choice to reject all that is good. Hell is also one final abuse people make of the natures God gave them, for as Ecclesiasties says, God put eternity in the hearts of men as a gift. Just as He gave us our bodies to use well in love, He gave us eternity in our souls as part of the nature of our beings. People on Earth that corrupt their bodies by choosing to use them for evil means, separating their bodies from Love through unloving actions, abuse their bodies and their lifetimes on Earth, gifts that God gave them. The one who uses his eye or his hand for evil abuses it, for God made it for love. In the same way, people abuse the gift God gave them of eternity in their hearts. God gave them that gift so that they could use it to rise to glory and everlasting life, but instead we use it to create horrors for ourselves and one another, and on Earth people blame God for their own abuses out of ignorance. Those that choose Hell deserve Hell and those that choose Heaven deserve Heaven. On the Last Day, God's justice will be proven throughout the nations.


#8

I’ve been thinking of this too…

I think that Heaven is beyond anything that we can imagine, where we’ll be competely filled with God’s love. Maybe it would be clear that the people who went to hell did so through their own choices…

I think that naturally, this WOULD be incredibly painful. But maybe God will heal it, in His mercy. Heaven can’t be ‘infiltrated’ with anything of hell, including despair.

I’ve had this experience several times… I was very upset about something, and when I prayed about it God filled me with peace. I could tell that this peace was supernatural… literally: above-natural. Maybe this is what would happen in Heaven too.

God bless


#9

I heard an answer to this recently in a Catholic Answers Q&A open forum. The answer is this: we don't know, we can only speculate.

Personally, I think that since God's love is so great that all we'll need is Him, then we can't be sad about someone who went to Hell.

Think about the final judgement at the end of time. We'll know EVERY person's deeds and will know God's justice, so we'll know that where they end up is their choice and not "God's fault". We'll understand things so much better that we'll understand why everyone is where they are and we'll accept it lovingly.

Suppose that son does go to Hell, the truth is that if he were to go to Heaven where his mother was he could not ever be happy. The reason for not being in Heaven is because he can't stand being before God. To make this final point clearer I highly recommend viewing this short video:
youtube.com/watch?v=x8zhnooySk4

Hope it helps somewhat, God bless.


#10

[quote="Erethorn, post:1, topic:181992"]
mother dies, goes to Heaven, son dies, goes to Hell. How can a mother not be eternally grieved by the fate of her son, and what happiness can there ever be for her ?

[/quote]

One thing to consider is that this son is no longer her son, for he is outside of the Family of God by choice. Earthly family life is only a symbol of the Family of God, the Church, in which we are all brothers, sisters, parents and children. If this son chooses not to be part of the Family of which earthly family is only the representation, this mother and son truly are not of the same family.

Remember how Jesus talked in the Gospels to some of His accusers and told them their father was the devil.

[quote="Erethorn, post:1, topic:181992"]
In other words, what becomes, in Heaven, of the love we had for a person who eventually ends up away from God ?

[/quote]

The love of the Church is complete and perfect, but people can separate themselves from it. This is similar to what happens with a heretic when they leave the Church. The heretic rejects the unity of the Church but by so doing does not break the unity of the Church. The Church remains united with or without the heretic; the heretic simply leaves that unity.

In the same way, the Church remains perfect in love with or without those who separate themselves from that love.

Another point worthwhile to make about this is that when a person enters Hell, they become wholly evil, like a demon, with no goodness whatsoever left in them. Hence there can be no love left for them. As the Book of Psalms says, "Love what is good, hate what is evil." There is nothing lovable left in the damned when they receive the fullness of the evil they chose on Earth. This is because they have rejected the fullness of God, Who is Love, and in so doing they reject all virtue and love of any kind. They are not lovable, hence there is no grief for their fate after they have reached Hell, though there is grief for them while they still have goodness in them on Earth, for then there is truly something of value in them, something that reflects God, which is good.


#11

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