Heaven


#1

What specifically do we know and what does the Church officially teach about heaven? Where is it located in the universe? How old is it? How many levels are there? What will it be like there? Will we have power over time and space there?

I cannot help to recall what Mark Twain said about heaven:
“If all you do is sing hymns there, that place will be empty in half an hour.”

Please direct me and others to good sources about this subject including the Church Fathers and ancient Jewish sources.

Thanks to all of you apologists for building up the kingdom of God one question and one person at a time.


#2

The dogmas of the Catholic Church on Heaven are as follows:

  1. The souls of the just which in the moment of death are free from all guilt of sin and punishment for sin, enter into Heaven. (De Fide)

“Heaven is a place and condition of perfect supernatural bliss, which consists in the immediate vision of God and in the perfect love of God associated with it.”
(*Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma * pp. 476-479)

*Catechism of the Catholic * Church no. 1023: Those who die in God’s grace and friendship and are perfectly purified live for ever with Christ. They are like God for ever, for they “see him as he is,” face to face.

See Pope Benedict XII’s *Benedictus Deus * (On the Beatific Vision of God) at ewtn.com/library/PAPALDOC/B12BDEUS.HTM.

  1. In addition to the essential bliss of Heaven which springs from the immediate Vision of God, there is also an accidental blessedness, which proceeds from the natural knowledge and love of created things (Sent. Communis.)

“An accidental bliss is achieved by the blessed in virtue of the community of life with Christ in His Human Form, which the Mother of God, and with the Angels and saints; in virtue of their re-unification with families and former friends from their earthly life; in virtue of their knowledge of God’s works. Further, the unification of the soul with the transfigured body at the Resurrection means an accidental increase of the glory granted to the Blessed in Heaven.” (ibid)

  1. The bliss of Heaven lasts for all eternity. (De fide.)

See *Benedictus Deus * (On the Beatific Vision of God)

  1. The degree of perfection of the beatific vision granted to the just is proportioned to each one’s merits. (De fide.)

The Council of Florence (1439) declared: “The souls of those who have incurred no stain of sin whatsoever after baptism, as well as souls who after incurring the stain of sin have been cleansed whether in their bodies or outside their bodies, as was stated above, are straightaway received into heaven and clearly behold the triune God as he is, yet one person more perfectly than another according to the difference of their merits.

For a full treatment of the Church’s teaching on Heaven, I recommend the following:[LIST]
*]Heaven
*]ewtn.com/library/PAPALDOC/JP2HEAVN.HTM#Heaven(Pope John Paul II—Heaven)[/LIST]


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