Do you have to use the restroom, when you die and go to Heaven? Do you have claustrophobia in Heaven? Will you be able to go to the Emergency Room? How can you travel from place to place? Who fixes your food? These and thousands of other questions about Heaven we neatly tuck away in some far corner of our mind and never ask about how this can be. What is Heaven, anyway? Who would want to go there?
Heaven is the only place where we don’t know what is in store for us but we want to go there and sell all our possessions to obtain it. As a human being, we live our whole life in the physical universe (matter, time, energy) but we access it through our five senses as interpreted by our brain (mental universe). As the philosophical dictum says: what is received, is received according to the disposition of the recipient. In English, that means everyone looks at the world through a lifetime or their unique experiences and learned values. To enter the spiritual universe, it takes an act of the will, one that is a gift from God to us. What is in the spiritual universe on earth is what is in Heaven. Have you found it yet?
The problem comes in when you miss the train because you hold a set of values that don’t lead to Heaven or when you put a false center in your life.
As one who aspires to be a Lay Cistercian, I have made a commitment to follow the Rule of Benedict and use the Cistercian practices and charisms to ensure I am close to the heart of Christ. Through silence, solitude, prayer, work, and community, I want to discover Heaven on earth and transform the physical and mental universes through the spiritual one. To do that, I have to transform myself into the Life of Christ. To do that, I must love God with all my heart, mind and strength, and my neighbor. To do that, I must daily have in me the mind of Christ Jesus. (Phil.2:5) I am far from that perfection.
Here are some of my thoughts about Heaven as a result of my Lectio Divina.
The Gift of Love
13 If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. 7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. 9 For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; 10 but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly,[b] but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love. (NRSVCE)
So, what is Heaven like? If, through contemplation, your heart is ever close to the heart of Christ, you will know the answer in its fullest sense. God is love.
Praised be to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and forever, the God who is, who was, and who is to come at the end of the ages. Amen and Amen. –Cistercian Doxology