DAILY CATHOLIC    MONDAY     November 29, 1999     vol. 10, no. 226

APPRECIATING THE PRECIOUS GIFT OF OUR FAITH

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SECTION ONE and SECTION TWO and SECTION THREE
    INTRODUCTION
      Every day we present a short point that helps bring into focus the treasures of the Roman Catholic Church that comprise the great Deposit of Faith.

      It is no secret that over the past thirty years fewer and fewer know their Faith and it shows with the declining number of vocations, parish participation and attendance at Holy Mass. We have the new Catechism of the Catholic Church but for the common man, the one brought up on sound bites and instant gratification, it is more of a text book and that in itself prompts them to shy away from such a tome. So what's a loyal Catholic to do in evangelizing to fellow Catholics and understand their Faith? Our answer: go back to basics - to the great Deposit of Faith. We have the Baltimore Catechism which, for unknown and ridiculous reasons, was shelved after Vatican II. We have the Holy Bible but there are so many newer versions that the Douay-Rheims and Confraternity Latin Vulgate in English versions, the ones used for so long as the official Scriptural text authorized by the Church, seem lost in a maze of new interpretations that water down the Word. This is further complicated by the fact there are so few Douay-Rheims editions in circulation though it is available on the net at DOUAY-RHEIMS BIBLE. We have so many Vatican documents available at the Vatican web site and other excellent Catholic resource sites that detail Doctrine, Dogma and Canon Law. We have the traditions, and the means of grace but how do we consolidate all these sources into one where it is succinct and easy to understand? We have the perfect vehicle. It is called "My Catholic Faith", now out of print, that was compiled by Bishop Louis Laravoire Morrow and published by My Mission House. This work ties in Scriptural references, the Sacraments, Dogmas, Doctrines, Traditions, Church documents, Encyclical and Papal decrees to clearly illustrate the Faith in simple, solid and concise terms that all can understand and put into practice. We will quote from this work while adding in more recent events and persons when applicable since the book was written in the late forties during the pontificate of Pope Pius XII. We also quote from the Catholic Almanac published by Our Sunday Visitor for the Roman Curial offices.

    Nothing in Holy Mother Church's teaching has changed and therefore we feel confident that these daily "points of enlightenment" will help more Catholics better understand their faith, especially those who were not blessed with early formation of the faith in the home and their parish school. Regardless of where any Catholic is in his or her journey toward salvation, he or she has to recognize that the Faith they were initiated into at the Sacrament of Baptism is the most precious gift they have been given in life.

LIFE EVERLASTING: HEAVEN

part one

        Words can never give any idea of the bliss of Heaven, whre the good will continually enjoy God, and be in the company of the saints and angels. Of Heaven David speaks: "They shall be inebriated with the plenty of Thy house and Thou shalt make them drink of the torrent of Thy pleasure" (Psalm 35-9). Saint John says of the blessed: "And God 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" (Apocalypse/Revelation 21:4).

        By "life everlasting" we mean that there will be another existence after this present life, and in it the just will be happy for all eternity. In that life the just will dwell in Heaven with God, in perfect and everlasting happiness. Heaven is both a place and a state: Our Lord Jesus Christ came down from Heaven, and ascended into it. Heaven is a state: even when the Blessed Virgin Mary, for example, appears to men, she does not leave Heaven, which she carries with her, in the state of her soul.

        This is why the good and holy have a foretaste of Heaven even here on earth, in the peace and joy they possess in their hearts. "And I say the Holy City, New Jerusalem, coming down out of Heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard aloud voice from the throne saying, -'Behold the swelling of God with men, and He will dwell with them. And they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God'" (Apocalypse/Revelation 21:2-3).

        Those are rewarded in Heaven who have died in the state of grace and have been purified in Purgatory, if necessary, from all venial sin and all debt of temporal punishment; they see God face to face, and share forever in His glory and happiness.

        We do not obtain Heaven without working for it. He that for God's sake has suffered most and given up most will get the greatest reward in Heaven. "He who loves his life, loses it; and he who hates his life in this world, keeps it unto life everlasting" (John 12:25). As Saint Paul says: "Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:21).

        The greatest joy of Heaven is the Beatific Vision. This is the sight of God face to face. This vision is called beatific, because it completely fills with joy those who possess it. They know and love God to their utmost capacity, and are known and loved by God in return. The Beatific Vision will satisfy completely and supremely all our desires. Having God, we shall never wish for anything else. "One day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day" (2 Peter 3:8).

        On earth, even when we obtain the dearest desires of our heart, we can never be completely happy. "We see now through a mirror in an obscure manner; burt then face to face. Now I know in part; but then I shall know even as I have been known" (1 Corinthians 13:12). In Heaven, "They shall be inebriated with the plenty of Thy house; and Thou shalt make them drink of the torrent of Thy pleasure" (Psalm 35:9).

        The other joys and perfections of Heaven will be numberless and of infinite variety. There will be neither sin, nor death, nor sorrow, nothing to cause trouble or affliction, nothing to mar the eternal bliss. "They shall neither hunger nor thirst any more, neither shall the sun strike them nor any heat...and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes"(Apocalypse/Revelation 7: 16-17).

        Our companions will be the most Holy Virgin Mary, the Angels and the Saints. We shall be reunited with those we have loved on earth, and we shall love them there more intensely. There will be no more separation. Whatever we have desired to know here on earth, we shall learn in heaven. All the mysteries of faith and science will be revealed. After the resurrection, we shall have our bodily senses in Heaven, and by them relish joys unending.

      Tomorrow: Life Everlasting: Heaven part two

November 29, 1999       volume 10, no. 226
GREAT DEPOSIT OF FAITH

DAILY CATHOLIC

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