May 21, 2011

Life Everlasting

Pillar Focus The Apostles Creed "I believe in life everlasting"

"Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few." (Mt 7: 13-14)

It is very important for us as Christians to never lose site of the fact that our lives are eternal. Living forever with God in heaven is our ultimate goal, our greatest hope. We understand that everything we see before us, money, fame, material things, will pass away. We realize that when we die (or before this, if Christ returns during our lifetimes) we will be judged for our faith and our works. Once this judgement is made, our eternity will be set.
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’ Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” (Mt 25: 31-46)
We all want to be the sheep here, not the goats!! We place Jesus Christ, the only one who can save us, at the forefront of our lives. We accept the sacrifice on Calvary for the forgiveness of our sins, and cooperate, over the course of our entire lives, with the grace we received in baptism. We live a sacramental life, centered on the Eucharist, so that we may stay close to the covenant love of God. Within this covenant, we strive to live the "Great Commandment," which is to love God with all our hearts, all our souls, and all our minds, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. We especially put our trust in the Lord, that he will be faithful to those who stand humbly before him.

From the YOUCAT (Youth Catechism) #158-161:

What is heaven?
Heaven is the endless moment of love. Nothing more seprates us from God, whom our soul loves and has sought our whole life long. Together with all the angels and saints we will be able to rejoice forever in and with God.

What is purgatory?
Purgatory, often imagined as a place, is actually a condition. Someone who dies in God's grace (and therefore at peace with God and men) but who still needs purificatin before he can see God face to face is in purgatory.

Can we help the departed who are in the condition of purgatory?
Yes, since all those who are baptized into Christ form one communion and are united with one another, the living can also help the souls of the faithful departed in purgatory.

What is hell?
Hell is the condition of everlasting separation from God, the absolute absence of love.

But if God is love, how can there be a hell?
God does not damn men. Man himself is the one who refuses God's merciful love and voluntarily deprives himself of (eternal) life by excluding himself from communion with God.

"The eyes of the world see no further than this life..the eyes of a Christian see deep into eternity"
                                                                                -St. John Vianney

Further Reading
The End Times and Last Things

Study the Catechism
part 1, section 2, chapter 3, article 12
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