Friday, May 25, 2012

Imagining Heaven and Hell

A few weeks ago, I was reading a passage from the gospel of Matthew where the Sadducees, who did not believe in life after death (that's why they were Sadd U Cee), were trying to trick Jesus and asked Him about a woman who's husband passes away and remarries.  That husband also dies and she remarries again.  This happens seven times.  The Sadducees ask Jesus who's wife will she be at the resurrection.   Jesus simply explains in Heaven there is no marriage (insert your own jokes here)   But, if you think about it---there is no need for marriage in Heaven.  After all, He gave us marriage for several reasons.

One, is to help each other get to Heaven.  As a husband, my life's biggest task is to help my wife get to Heaven and her's is to help me get to there also.  The second reason for marriage is the love we give each other which results in children to populate the Earth.  Finally, marriage is a reflection of the Holy Trinity.  I give all of my love to Abby and she, in return, gives all of her love to me.  The result of our love is the aforementioned children.  In the Trinity, God the Father pours out all of His love to God the Son who, in return pours out all of his love back to God the Father.  The result of such a perfect love is another person--God in the Holy Spirit.    So, in Heaven, there really is no need for marriage.  We have gotten each other to Heaven (hopefully--she has the more difficult task ahead of her).  There is no need to repopulate the Earth.  And there is no need for a reflection of God because He is right there in front of us.

This is kind of problematic for me because it makes me wonder what Heaven will be like.  My wife is a part of me.  I don't want to imagine a time when she isn't a part of me, when she isn't my wife, when she isn't MRS. Jamie McAdams.  So what will Heaven be like if she isn't my spouse.

What do you do in Heaven.   I'm sorry, but I would think that singing Holy, Holy, Holy with all the angels and all of the other saints would get boring after a bit.  But, in Heaven you are outside of time and space.   I won't have my phone---who will I text?  What would a constant state of euphoria be like?  I can't imagine.

Will there be sadness in Heaven or will being in the presence of God and feeling His love over come any feelings of sadness??  Possibly.  That's difficult from me to imagine because I'm sure there will be some loved one or friend who isn't there with me.  Wouldn't I be sad if I knew that they weren't in Heaven too?

What about Hell?  I think Hell is severely underestimated.  I've heard people joke about going to Hell as if it's some sort of playground where you get to do everything that is considered wrong an immoral on Earth.  As if it's just a great big party.

But think of it this way.  Hell is an absence of God.  It's actually a mercy for those people who do not want to live God's way.    For them, to be in the presence of God and to feel God's love that intensely would be too painful.  So, they get to go where they are in the absence of God.  But, if God is love and they are absent from God then that must mean that they are absent from love.   I don't imagine it's a party.  I imagine the lowest, saddest and loneliest period of life and imagine that feeling multiplied two times, ten times, a hundred times or more.   And then, to imagine that that is where I would be for eternity with no hope of ever being happy again.  That does not sound like a party

I cannot imagine what Heaven is like.  I cannot wrap my head around the feeling of happiness that must be there.  I can start to imagine what Hell may be like and that, well, it scares the Hell out of me.

So, Lord, give me the grace to do your will, avoid sin and keep the Devil away from me.


  1. This is an interesting post, Jamie. Over the last 11 years, I have thought a lot about Heaven and Hell. I agree with you that I would think Hell is no party. Absence of love is pretty dark and sad and painful.

    I was listening to CAtholic Radio one time and Father Mitch Pacwa was discussing Heaven and why we don't need marriage and all these relationships in Heaven. I'm paraphrasing: He said that once you get to Heaven, you no longer are attached to anything of earth...that includes any sadness and yes, any boredom you think you might feel. If you make it to Heaven, you are in complete union with God and as such, any earthly worries, desires, fears are gone.

    He also addressed Hell and he brought up the times Jesus spoke of "the eternal fire" and the "grinding and gnashing of teeth" to help illustrate that Hell is not fun...not a party...

    anyway, that's just my paraphrasing of what some other person said on Catholic radio. I often wonder if we DO anything. I also often ponder the end of time when we are supposed to have our earthly bodies and our souls rejoined...what will I look like in my glorified body? Do I have to keep this body that birthed 5 kids? Or do I get to have my body in its prime? (that is supposed to be a funny thought...but it is something I think about sometimes)

  2. Pope John Paul II pointed out that the essential characteristic of heaven, hell or purgatory is that they are states of being of a spirit (angel/demon) or human soul, rather than places, as commonly perceived and represented in human language. This language of place is, according to the Pope, inadequate to describe the realities involved, since it is tied to the temporal order in which this world and we exist. In this he is applying the philosophical categories used by the Church in her theology and saying what St. Thomas Aquinas said long before him.

    "Incorporeal things are not in place after a manner known and familiar to us, in which way we say that bodies are properly in place; but they are in place after a manner befitting spiritual substances, a manner that cannot be fully manifest to us." [St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, Supplement, Q69, a1, reply 1]