How are we already raised and sitting in heaven? (Catechism 1002, 1003)

(In this thread, I get all bent out of shape by the Catechism declaring what at first glance is contradicted by daily experience.)

According to the Catechism,

[1002] in a certain way, we have already risen with Christ. For, by virtue of the Holy Spirit, Christian life is already now on earth a participation in the death and Resurrection of Christ:

They quote Colossians 2, which appears to use the language symbolically to mean how we turn away from earthly goals (e.g. becoming a billionaire, seeking pleasure) towards heavenly goals (e.g. serving our neighbor, preaching the Gospel). Yet the Catechism appears to interpret this literally by saying “In a certain way,” which to me does not mean symbolically – to speak symbolically means literally we’ve not Resurrected; we’ve simply experienced a change similar to the Resurrection that can be expressed via that symbol.

Should I explain away this apparent literal interpretation as an accident of English Catechism translation?

Yet they continue:

[1003] believers already truly participate in the heavenly life of the risen Christ

citing Colossians 3,

For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

What does this mean? I can only guess he means what I’ve already said above regarding ‘death’=conversion, and that St. Paul is implying that the spiritual fruit of our suffering is in the heavenly kingdom. Yet this meaning is something I have been taught that I am “laying on top of” this text – literally he’s not saying anything other than “our lives are hidden in God”. Am I correct in this meaning? Why, again, is the Catechism appearing instead to take this literally, not symbolically? It frustrates me, because not speaking plainly, instead being obscure, is not helping me see a hidden God who lets us suffer in silence.

They also cite Philippians 3:

But our citizenship [colony] is in heaven, and from it we also await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

I still don’t see how these verses support the claim that we are “participating in the heavenly life of the risen Christ”: A heavenly life, by definition, is not an earthly one; it’s claiming we’re involved with what Jesus is doing in heaven! But we are not in heaven: We are here on earth. It is frustrating because if taken literally the Catechism is clearly false, hence a scandal to the uneducated reading it, just like some parts of the Bible. It looks like we’d have to go through mental gymnastics to give it meaning: “Jesus is in heaven, but we’re His Body on earth, and so He’s in heaven working through us as ‘His hands and feet’…” Is that the correct interpretation here? How is even this to be understood? It likewise comes across as absurd, as like someone lying half-off a bed reaching over to work on a laptop sitting on a nearby desk …

The Catechism goes even further, combining the two:

[1003] The Father has already “raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”

… and this is literally a quotation from Ephesians 2.

I suppose the key here is the idea that humanity is one ‘spiritual organism’, and so either is damned in Adam, or reborn into and hence saved in Christ. (Romans 5) But how can we be one with Christ, as members of His Body, and yet so miserable here on earth while Jesus is in heaven, a place Aquinas says has ‘perfect happiness’? Or how can we be unhappy with Jesus and the Holy Spirit and the Father indwelling within us? (John 14:23, Blessed Miriam Teresa’s Prayer for Beatification) All together this seems another formulation of ‘the mystery of evil’, and this section of the Catechism is remarkably unhelpful.

Of course, struggling with these passages – since the Catechism just quotes them literally and moves on without exegesis – I am reminded of 2 Peter 3:

In [Paul’s letters] there are some things hard to understand that the ignorant and unstable distort to their own destruction, just as they do the other scriptures.

I suppose I am unstable, and I pray frequently for more faith and wisdom, yet I’m continually frustrated and unhappy by how distant God is.

Daily experience can either miss, fail to comprehend, or deny the supernatural. It all follows from that. If you have no grasp upon the supernatural, you will not and cannot understand the faith. Further, you seem to be forcing a personal template of opinion over the deposit of faith and are perplexed at the result.

This will be difficult in Japan, perhaps, but find a parish and go spend time either before the Tabernacle, or at adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Ask, request, demand, even beg our Lord to reveal His presence, and then be very patient. Your heart must be open or you will simply be wasting time. But, when the revelation comes, you will be changed and all of this will make sense to you.

Words fail to convince or convict. The Holy Spirit is another matter entirely.

Simple. :thumbsup:

Read and understand the literal term Sanctifying Grace in the CCC Glossary.

Also, it is very, very important to study CCC 20-21 before reading any paragraph.

To get a basic understanding of one’s own human nature, first check out Genesis 1: 27 and CCC 355-356. CCC 1730 has a basic assumption about human nature and its goal.

To get an understanding of heavenly glory following bodily death, study Beatific Vision in the CCC Glossary and then re-study Genesis 1-27. The dramatic shift from Genesis 1-25 to Genesis to Genesis 1: 26 may be helpful.

As for issues regarding the first human Adam, a general approach can be used by reading CCC 355- 421.

Read and understand the literal term Baptism in the CCC Glossary.

Note: a helpful tool is the CCC Index of Citations beginning on page 689 following CCC 2865.

Ask questions. I will do my best to answer.

Post 2 is very helpful.

From a catholic perspective it is literal. The Body of Christ is literal, not symbolic or metaphorical for Catholics. Christ lives in you and you in He, most particularly in the Eucharist. I noticed in another thread you basically argued a protestant position on the Eucharist, our understanding is the opposite. In John six when he talks of eternal life, he is talking about His eternal life, not ours "So Jesus said to them,

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you;
he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”

With regard to sharing in that divine life; when Christ died on the cross the curtain was torn in the temple, when that tore (literally in greek, rent asunder" the same word in used during Jesus baptism, the sky was “rent asunder” (called bookends in Mark).
When this happened Heaven was open to us, the inner sanctum, which we now enter in Mass

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering,
and to the assembly of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to a judge who is God of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks more graciously than the blood of Abel.

A few things to keep in mind, catholics (and Orthodox and Jews) read the bible typoligically. It’s an important word in understanding sacred scripture. All of Hebrews is written typologically it is also written liturgically, comparing the old worship with the new worship in Christ in heaven which we participate in. It combines synagogue and temple worship, and you are there live.

Another word that is important biblically is anamnesis, typically rendered remember, however that has serious shortcomings imho. It means for God to make the past present to you today. It is how we can become part of the covenant, we *participate *in Christs sacrifice just as the Jews participate in the passover, Zikaron.

We are also the body and Bride of Christ, The body (I’m being really short on scripture due to space constraints)

For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – Jews or Greeks, slaves or free – and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many.
If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body.
And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body.
If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell?
But as it is, God arranged the organs in the body, each one of them, as he chose.
If all were a single organ, where would the body be?
As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”
On the contrary, the parts of the body which seem to be weaker are indispensable,
and those parts of the body which we think less honorable we invest with the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty,
which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior part,
that there may be no discord in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.
If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.
Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.

And the Bride:

Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord.
For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.
As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands.
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,
that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,
that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
Even so husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, as Christ does the church,
because we are members of his body.
“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”
This mystery is a profound one, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church;

The last line “The mystery” literally mysterion in Latin *sacrementum *refers to the unity of husband and wife and Christ as the bridegroom and the church as he bride, they become one:

He answered, “Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female,
and said, `For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?
So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.”

As the bride, we are one flesh, especially superabundantly, through the Eucharist with Christ. So as he is so are we in the heavenly places.

Peace and God Bless
Nicene

Sorry I couldn’t be more thorough, had to cut some out due to space constraints in posts.

Peace and God Bless
Nicene

If you do want to see what heavenly worship is like, read Revelation 5-8. Revelatoin literally means apocalypse or unveiling. The Bride and Groom are unveiled, apocalypsed, the start of something new. Bibilcally it’s wedding terminology.

Peace and God bless
Nicene

My problem – or the atheistic rebuttal I’m tempted to think – is: Why should we be “numb” to all this? For example, we are One Body in Christ as you say, by virtue of Baptism, yet many Christians in the US, Japan, likely around the world, seem ignorant about the suffering of Christians in the Middle East and Africa. Today in Japan we celebrated children’s first communion, during Mass, and after at a luncheon with cake and soda – how many were suffering because of those persecuted Christians’ suffering? How many of us felt it? If we don’t read about it in the news, it’s as if it’s not even happening.

Likewise regarding “being in heaven right now” – we are suffering physical disabilities, arguments with family, etc. We don’t experience this “perfect happiness” in heaven.

So while we can “affirm it theologically” on paper and by word, how are we actually living it?


Upon reflection, I suppose my question about the body doesn’t really make sense: After all, when my foot hurts, my finger doesn’t hurt as well. My finger doesn’t react to my leg hurting. Rather, my brain recognizes and focuses on the pain. I suppose, then, that to the contrary, we can have faith that God is with those being persecuted, even though the ‘elbow’ in Japan isn’t hurting like the ‘knees’ in Africa (so to speak). It is Jesus who is “feeling the pain”, as He even revealed to St. Paul, since He is the head (and “the brains of this operation”?).

I suppose I’m just frustrated at having to affirm theological statements without anything definite to point to to show a non-Christian. Is there any physical manifestation of being ‘one Body’ either damned in Adam or redeemed in Christ? Generally, the only ways to approach secularists seems to be, “Are you unhappy and want to try something different to seek happiness?” and “Would you like to study ancient history and philosophy and try to convince yourself that my faith is true?”

The stuff about sitting before the tabernacle and “being very patient” just comes across as an invitation to self-persuasion, akin to fraternity hazing insofar as the “I wouldn’t be doing this if it wasn’t worth it”-phenomenon works.

I suppose a fundamental problem I have is that I don’t really understand what ‘spiritual’ means. I keep wanting to have some direct experience of spiritual reality that seems to be equivalent to physical reality. My conception is basically that experiencing it would be like experiencing this world, but in a different realm. This thinking leads to the conclusion that we’re all “spiritually blind and numb” for the most part; I’ve written about this previously, thinking that it’s unfair, especially given the apologetics arguing spiritual reality is “more real” than physical reality.

Being in the State of Sanctifying Grace is a spiritual reality. Post 3 is not a game. Do not make the mistake of confusing the spiritual world with the material world.
Genesis 3: 6

The question to secularists is not always “Are you unhappy?”

The statement to secularists can be "While I am happy sharing in the life of Jesus Christ, I can share in the pain of humans, not necessarily physically, but emotionally such as in compassion.

Is the spiritual reality “more” real" than the physical reality? Is rational thinking more real than walking? Or is walking more real than rational thinking?

St Bernard describes the spiritual as the combination of intellect, love, emotions, and memory. So there, that is not abstract at all. It just means that when you combine these things, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. There is a whole world of things that only exist as ideas that can be rationally developed, love (in St. Bernard’s sense), feelings and the fact that all of this can be remembered and shape things over time.

Note that all of these things exist in the world of ideas, thoughts, patterns, or however you want to describe it. It is a higher level of reality beyond the mere physical. It is the way that God has organized things at their most basic level.

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