St. Irenaeus Ministries
Scripture Studies brought to you by the St. Irenaeus Center.
St. Irenaeus Ministries - a center of orthodox Catholic mission and renewal in Rochester, NY

Hell is not a pleasant subject, and some religions try to explain it away or ignore it entirely. How could a loving God commit any of his creation to unquenchable fire? The answer is that we choose it ourselves.

The damned have physical bodies, because the body helped commit the sins that damned the soul, so should the body participate in the punishment. Thus, we must take care to instruct our bodies to be virtuous, not corrupted by sin.

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God cannot be seen as He is unless He allows Himself to be seen, which is termed the beatific vision. This is an unapproachable light (1 Tim 6:16), but we expect to see face to face in Heaven (1 Cor 13:12, Ps 17:15).

The Catechism also tells us that we will reign in heaven, though obviously not over God, and this implies that Heaven is not a static place. Rev 22, even taken literally, tells us that Heaven will be an immense place, a place that cannot be on Earth as it is, and Rev 21 tells us that it will be a new place with no more sadness. Paul, in Rom 8, tells us that we are groaning to be part of this new creation. Jesus tells us that we must lay up treasure in Heaven. We also know that there will be gender in Heaven, as we are repeatedly told that there will be people of both specific sexes there.

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Despite the physicality of Heaven, we cannot expect carnality or a fleshliness there. 1 Cor 13:12 tells us that we will be face to face with God, and there cannot be any attachment to anything else when we are. Rev 22 tells us that we will have His name inscribed on our foreheads, such will be the communion with the Trinity in Heaven.

Section 1024f of the Catechism tells us that there will be many in Heaven, but it will not be to lose our identity to a corporate body. This does not means that there is no corporate body of the Church Triumphant, as Heaven is the community of all who are perfectly united in Christ, and Jn 15 speaks of us all as branches of Him, the true vine.

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Benedict XII tells us that those who have died and have been purified or are not in need of purification are in Heaven, even before the resurrection. This is a place of surpassing beauty and where we will be in a union of love with God without any mediation.

We must still be resurrected on the last day, since we were created to be a union of body and spirit, but Heaven is still a timeless part of our progress into our eternal reward. We know that there is some bodily component to Heaven, as some there, such as Moses and Mary, were assumed bodily into Heaven. The body there, however, will be different from our bodies here.

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