Thoughts on what Heaven will be like
November 28, 2021 • 13 min
The goal of this life is to be convinced that the Love of God is worth not sinning. And one of the best rewards we will receive, if we believe this and put it into practice faithfully until death, is Heaven. So it’s helpful to think about Heaven and what it will be like.
We don’t know a ton about Heaven for sure. God has only revealed to us a few things, through the Bible and through Sacred Tradition.
The Bible says a lot about it. The entire chapter 21 of Revelation is all about Heaven. Read the whole thing online here. But here’s some passages we can look at in particular:
Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.
This is a complete guarantee that every single bad thing will be gone forever and have absolutely no place in Heaven. No death, no pain, no sadness. Nothing but good and only good and the most perfect good.
Most importantly, God will personally be with us. In this life, very occasionally, we feel God’s presence in a very special way. When this happens, we feel peace, and comfort, and calm, especially if it’s while bad things are happening in our lives.
God himself will personally wipe away every tear from us! Now, if you’re a bit squeamish about people being in your space, don’t panic. This doesn’t mean God will literally wipe your tears away. Rather, it means he will unite himself to your soul so perfectly, in such a new way, that it will be impossible for you to be sad anymore.
St. Paul explains a lot about how we will be different after the Resurrection. He was dealing with people who scoffed at the idea of a resurrected human body, and thought there would be no Resurrection. He said to them:
You foolish man! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body which is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. (1 Corinthians 15, RSVCE)
He’s saying that what our bodies are like now, will be far different than what they will be like then. It’ll be as different as a seed is from a tree.
Then he continues to describe the resurrected human person:
So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body.
Here, he names 4 things that people in the Church have thought a lot about. They’ve connected these also to what Jesus did and was able to do after the Resurrection, like being able to instantly move from one place to another faster than you could travel there, being able to walk through walls, and not being able to get hurt.
That’s great, and there’s a lot more for the Church to figure out about those aspects. But I want to focus right now on the fact that all creation will be made as new as the difference between a seed and a tree.
First, remember that St. Paul just said that the body will be like a tree then, compared to like a seed now.
Second, remember that Jesus himself compared Himself (the Word of God) to the seed, and each of us to the soil that the seed is planted in and transforms.
So we are soil, but just like a seed consumes the soil and transforms it into itself, we will be transformed into the Body of Christ. In fact, we already are starting that transformation even now in this life, especially when we participate in Holy Communion, in which we consume the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus, in order to allow him to transform us into the Body of Christ.
(I got this idea from the movie Blessed Duns Scotus which I watched again last night. It’s linked to on the bottom of this page, and it’s free on Formed. I highly recommend watching that movie! Who knows if Duns Scotus actually made this point in real life—probably he did, in some of his writings—but either way, it’s a good idea, and lines up with Church teachings.)
So, from this, we see that Jesus will transform us into his own nature. Which is ultimate perfection of every kind.
But also (and maybe especially), the whole creation will be transformed.
St. Paul mentions this:
We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:22-23, RSVCE)
It’s also mentioned in the Revelation to St. John:
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. (Revelation 21:1, RSVCE)
It’s also mentioned by St. Peter:
10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and the works that are upon it will be burned up. (2 Peter 3:10)
This is explained by St. Augustine to mean a transformation of creation, in line with the two verses before it.
So, if we will be changed, as the difference from a seed to a tree, and all creation will be changed, as different as a seed from a tree… Just imagine how amazing creation will be!
Consider that, right now, we only have a glimpse of creation. And how beautiful it can be!
Consider music. Imagine the best composers throughout history, coming together, in the prime of their youth, with no time limit, with completely fresh minds, no distractions or impediments, and creating new music. And then all humanity gathering to hear these beautiful new compositions!
But we only have 7 notes (12 if you count the ones in between.) Is God limited to 7 notes? Imagine what these composers could do with all the new notes that God could create!
Well, we can’t imagine it very well, because a seed could never imagine the bark or leaves of a tree. All it knows about is shells. We can try to imagine these things, but we might end up being like those silly Corinthians, who thought of the future life from the perspective of this one only. No, it’s going to be far better than that. We have the promises of God to assure us!
And imagine colors! We only know about the colors in the rainbow. But surely God could create more than a thousand times more colors than that! Oh, what painters could do with these new colors, what new levels of depth they’ll be able to add the talents of creativity they cooperated with God so tirelessly in this life to cultivate.
Or the elements! Look at the periodic table, there are a lot of elements that aren’t stable in nature. I bet they will be after the Resurrection and in the New Creation! I wonder what kind of properties these new elements will have? What kinds of fantastic new materials we’ll be able to make with them, what kind of inventions we can invent with them and share with all glorified humanity!
Some theologians have put the next life in strange language that implies a life that’s very off-putting. They say there’s a “beatific vision” in which we see God, so we don’t do anything, because we’re so happy seeing God.
I’m not saying the Church finally is wrong about something. These theologians are just theorizing, after all, about things that are not required to believe as facts. This concept is a philosophical idea, and an explanation of the fact that we will see God
with the eyes of our souls, and be ultimately happy through that.
So, in that sense, I agree. We will see God with the eyes of our soul, and we will be happy. But Jesus always saw God the Father with his soul as clearly as we will then, and yet he still did stuff in this life. And he’s even still doing stuff now.
In fact, so are the Saints in Heaven. Even Church Teaching says that the Saints are busy up there interceding for us, helping us, obtaining grace for us, helping to distribute grace, in a kind of hierarchy, where Jesus is the source, Mary is at the top, St. Joseph is up there with her, and together they are handing grace to other Saints and to all the Angels (with St. Michael as their leader), to use as their power to either fight evil for us, or to help us fight temptations.
So, this is not that theologians are wrong, they’re just, well, explaining it really badly. Or at least, maybe the books I read about it were explained badly. I’m not sure where the source of it really lies. All I know is, we’re not just going to be standing around staring at God and saying “oh man this is great.” No! That’s not Heaven!
God is infinitely diligent too, as one of his perfections. He can’t just stand around doing nothing. And neither does he want us to, either!
The next life is described as “Life, and Life More Abundantly,” by Jesus Himself. Life has motion or movement, life has change, life has activity and action, life has experiences. Jesus is the “Author of Life.” It’s death that’s full of nothingness and no-action and not-doing! Not life, that’s death!
So in Eternal Life, we are going to have an amazing time. Yes, it’s true we will always be happy. But that happiness can increase over time. Just like Jesus was perfectly happy, but his happiness can increase, and does increase. So that, when even one sinner repents on earth, Jesus rejoices along with all Heaven. This rejoicing, on the part of the Saints and Jesus, would be impossible if there was a limit to happiness. It has a minimum of “having absolutely no unhappiness” but it doesn’t have a maximum. It can keep increasing over time.
And that’s the other aspect of eternity. It has no end. It’s infinite in time. There will never be an end to anything we want to do. We have “all the time in the world” to explore this creation.
If it’s true that we’ll be able to move anywhere instantly, at the speed of thought, and that we won’t suffer from anything, doesn’t this mean we can instantly transport to the moon? Or the center of the Sun? Or pluto? We can explore the entire outer space. And on every planet, including this one, we can explore the deepest caves and the bottom of every ocean.
We can see what kind of creatures God has created, and how they too have transformed with the Resurrection. And we can interact with them as part of God’s new creation, maybe like having a pet dog, but so much cooler when it’s a space whale that’s the size of New York that you taught how to do super cool tricks on a planet with less gravity and orange sapce water.
There’s so much new about that life, we can barely scratch the surface by imagining it. All we know for sure is that it will be amazing for those who loved God in this life and refused to sin.
And he who sat upon the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (Revelation 21:5, RSVCE)
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