Some practical questions and answers about Heaven

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Will we recognize loved ones in heaven? Will we relate to them in the same way as we do/did in this life? Given that heaven is eternal life, what will we do to pass the time; to keep from getting bored? What about finding out that a loved one went to hell and is suffering eternal damnation? Even in heaven, wouldn’t finding that out be extremely upsetting?

Father Trigilio’s response is as follows (slightly edited):

The Vatican II document Nostre Aetate states neither what recent Popes nor today’s Jews often claim it does.

Abraham and Isaac Laurent de La Hire, 1650

by Doug Lawrence

Reading this, try to keep in mind that the Tribe of Judah (a.k.a. “The Jews”) comes from the stock of Abraham – the Father of Our Faith – and not the other way around!

The segment of the Vatican II document Nostre Aetate specifically dealing with the relationship of the Catholic Church to the Jews: 

4. As the sacred synod searches into the mystery of the Church, it remembers the bond that spiritually ties the people of the New Covenant to Abraham’s stock.

Thus the Church of Christ acknowledges that, according to God’s saving design, the beginnings of her faith and her election are found already among the Patriarchs, Moses and the prophets. She professes that all who believe in Christ-Abraham’s sons according to faith (6)-are included in the same Patriarch’s call, and likewise that the salvation of the Church is mysteriously foreshadowed by the chosen people’s exodus from the land of bondage. The Church, therefore, cannot forget that she received the revelation of the Old Testament through the people with whom God in His inexpressible mercy concluded the Ancient Covenant. Nor can she forget that she draws sustenance from the root of that well-cultivated olive tree onto which have been grafted the wild shoots, the Gentiles.(7) Indeed, the Church believes that by His cross Christ, Our Peace, reconciled Jews and Gentiles. making both one in Himself.(8)

The Church keeps ever in mind the words of the Apostle about his kinsmen: “theirs is the sonship and the glory and the covenants and the law and the worship and the promises; theirs are the fathers and from them is the Christ according to the flesh” (Rom. 9:4-5)*, the Son of the Virgin Mary. She also recalls that the Apostles, the Church’s main-stay and pillars, as well as most of the early disciples who proclaimed Christ’s Gospel to the world, sprang from the Jewish people. *(This passage was badly misinterpreted in the original 1994 edition of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and was, after some controversy, later corrected by the U.S. Catholic bishops, in a secret ballot.)

As Holy Scripture testifies, Jerusalem did not recognize the time of her visitation,(9) nor did the Jews in large number, accept the Gospel; indeed not a few opposed its spreading.(10) Nevertheless, God holds the Jews most dear for the sake of their Fathers; He does not repent of the gifts He makes or of the calls He issues-such is the witness of the Apostle.(11) In company with the Prophets and the same Apostle, the Church awaits that day, known to God alone, on which all peoples will address the Lord in a single voice and “serve him shoulder to shoulder” (Soph. 3:9).(12)

Since the spiritual patrimony common to Christians and Jews is thus so great, this sacred synod wants to foster and recommend that mutual understanding and respect which is the fruit, above all, of biblical and theological studies as well as of fraternal dialogues.

True, the Jewish authorities and those who followed their lead pressed for the death of Christ;(13) still, what happened in His passion cannot be charged against all the Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews of today. Although the Church is the new people of God, the Jews should not be presented as rejected or accursed by God, as if this followed from the Holy Scriptures. All should see to it, then, that in catechetical work or in the preaching of the word of God they do not teach anything that does not conform to the truth of the Gospel and the spirit of Christ.

Furthermore, in her rejection of every persecution against any man, the Church, mindful of the patrimony she shares with the Jews and moved not by political reasons but by the Gospel’s spiritual love, decries hatred, persecutions, displays of anti-Semitism, directed against Jews at any time and by anyone.

Besides, as the Church has always held and holds now, Christ underwent His passion and death freely, because of the sins of men and out of infinite love, in order that all may reach salvation. It is, therefore, the burden of the Church’s preaching to proclaim the cross of Christ as the sign of God’s all-embracing love and as the fountain from which every grace flows.

5. We cannot truly call on God, the Father of all, if we refuse to treat in a brotherly way any man, created as he is in the image of God. Man’s relation to God the Father and his relation to men his brothers are so linked together that Scripture says: “He who does not love does not know God” (1 John 4:8).

No foundation therefore remains for any theory or practice that leads to discrimination between man and man or people and people, so far as their human dignity and the rights flowing from it are concerned.

The Church reproves, as foreign to the mind of Christ, any discrimination against men or harassment of them because of their race, color, condition of life, or religion. On the contrary, following in the footsteps of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, this sacred synod ardently implores the Christian faithful to “maintain good fellowship among the nations” (1 Peter 2:12), and, if possible, to live for their part in peace with all men,(14) so that they may truly be sons of the Father who is in heaven.(15)

Read the entire document

A Few Scriptural highlights:

The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren… (Matthew 1:1-2)

I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living… (Matthew 22:32)

As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever… (Luke 1:55)

Blessed [be] the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; To perform the mercy [promised] to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; The oath which he sware to our father Abraham… (Luke 1:68-73)

Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself? Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God: Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw [it], and was glad. Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am… (John 8:53-58)

The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let [him] go… (Acts 3:13)

Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed… (Acts 3:25)

And he gave him the covenant of circumcision: and so [Abraham] begat Isaac, and circumcised him the eighth day; and Isaac [begat] Jacob; and Jacob [begat] the twelve patriarchs… (Acts 7:8)

Men [and] brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent… (Acts 13:26)

What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath [whereof] to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness… (Romans 4:1-5)

For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, [was] not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if they which are of the law [be] heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, [there is] no transgression. Therefore [it is] of faith, that [it might be] by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all… (Romans 4:13-16)

I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, [of] the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying, Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to [the image of] Baal. Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace… (Romans 11:1-5)

Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, [saying], In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham. For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed [is] every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, [it is] evident: for, The just shall live by faith. And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed [is] every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though [it be] but a man’s covenant, yet [if it be] confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto. Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. And this I say, [that] the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. For if the inheritance [be] of the law, [it is] no more of promise: but God gave [it] to Abraham by promise. Wherefore then [serveth] the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; [and it was] ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator. Now a mediator is not [a mediator] of one, but God is one. [Is] the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster [to bring us] unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye [be] Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise… (Galatians 3:6-29)

Editor’s note: Despite all the flowery prose, along with certain modernist errors and omissions contained in the Nostre Aetate document, there exists a world of difference (as well as the practical hope of eternal salvation) between a Jewish person who is merely a naturally born child of God, still steeped in Original Sin, not yet redeemed from eternal slavery to Satan, sin and death – and a faithful, baptized Catholic Christian who is a living Temple of the Holy Spirit, a member of the Church, an adopted child of God, a Citizen of Heaven and co-heir with Jesus Christ to all the gratuitous promises of God.

The purpose of genuine Evangelization is to reach out in love to all the unbaptized, without exception, and to freely offer them God’s wonderful gift of salvation and grace, according to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Not to falsely patronize and mislead them!

The rational logic of Nostre Aetate must also work both ways: Just as  what happened at Christ’s passion cannot be charged against all the Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor (exclusively) against the Jews of today – neither can the horrors of the Holocaust be charged against all non-Jews, without  distinction, then alive, nor against non-Jews (especially Catholics) of today.

The simple fact remains that there is no basis for unjust discrimination against the Jewish people, or against any individual Jewish person. Our Christian faith calls us to love God and to love our neighbor, with very few exceptions.

There is however, a tremendous distinction between the beliefs and practices of various forms of modern Judaism, loosely defined as Jewish Naturalism, and the authentic beliefs and practices of the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church of Jesus Christ – differences so great as to be irreconcilable by anyone other than God, himself. 

Due largely in part to their continued denial and rejection of Jesus Christ as God, Messiah and Savior and their emphasis instead, on justification under the Law (attempting to keep the Ten Commandments and all the other ordinances and statutes of the old, Mosaic Law) today’s Jews have much in common with the Muslims, as Muslim Sharia Law is essentially nothing more than a regional/national variation of the old, Mosaic Law – which never has been capable of saving a soul. For if that were the case, there would have been no need for Jesus Christ, our Holy Redeemer, to take on flesh, live, suffer, die and rise again, as our propitiation for sin, according to the will of God the Father.

Contrary to the novelties of the last fifty years, these very substantial differences in beliefs are  not something we Catholics would want to gloss over, condone, or celebrate – although friends may be able to agree to disagree on such matters.

Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, [even] by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (Acts 4:10-12)

Bait-n-switch is not how you gain converts if you want to keep them.

bait

Now, as I’ve said, I don’t and can’t know what the pope is thinking, but I can know what his words and actions are telegraphing to the world, and it is no surprise that people are reaching these conclusions. He is giving them this impression and doing very little, if anything at all, to correct it. Vatican spokesman Fr. Lombardi already indicated that the holy father would have done so if he had misgivings about the way he has been presented in his interviews. So the fact that it is becoming increasingly well-known that the wrong sort of people are getting the wrong idea about where the Church is headed and nothing is being done about it is…troubling.

What drives me crazy are the people who just can’t get over trying to change the Catholic Church. SERIOUSLY? STOP IT. It’s the only institution in the world that has stuck to its guns on what it believes as the centuries have thrown every opposition imaginable at it. There have been changes in practice, but not in belief. And I’ll be honest: I don’t care for all of the changes that have been made, or the evade-by-nuance approach to certain teachings that throw cold water on modern approaches to ecumenism and the like, but I won’t tell you that the Church has flat out done a 180 on anything I’m aware of that was non-negotiable.

We are the ones who do not change. That is our hallmark. Our faith is timeless. It does not conform to the zeitgeist. It shapes the world and the cultures it comes into contact with. Let it be.

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The writings of ecumenical theologians often suffer from “significant silence” on key points of Catholic doctrine that interfere with their ecumenical designs.

• Outside the Church there is no salvation: The Council of Florence teaches infallibly “The Most Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews, heretics, and schismatic can ever be partakers of eternal life, but that they are to go into the eternal fire ‘which was prepared for the devil and his angels,’ (Mt. 25:41) unless before death they are joined with Her…” [29];

This doctrine has been infallibly defined three times and taught continually throughout the centuries by the ordinary magisterium, such as the repeated papal condemnations of religious indifferentism in the 19th Century, and by Pius XII’s Humani Generis. There is nothing cruel or “anti-semitic” about this dogma, as it has been taught by the Church since the time of Christ and flows from the words of Our Lord Himself: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be condemned.” (Mark 16:16).

• Catholic Doctrine Cannot Change: It is the very nature of reality itself that objective truth cannot change. Thus what the Council of Florence defined is infallibly true for all time. Even a Pope cannot alter it. [30] And Vatican II, which is only a pastoral Council that formally defined nothing, cannot change doctrine at all. [31] Further, Vatican I formally stamped out any idea of an “evolution of doctrine” when it taught that we are bound to believe Catholic doctrine “in the same meaning and in the same explanation” of what the Church always taught without change. Vatican I further taught infallibly, “The meaning of Sacred Dogmas, which must always be preserved, is that which our Holy Mother the Church has determined. Never is it permissible to depart from this in the name of a deeper understanding.” [32]

• The Old Covenant is Superseded by the New: Thus one can no longer speak of Jews as having their own covenant with God, or exercising some sort of fidelity in light of the fact of their once-held status as the Chosen People. [33]

The eminent theologian Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton explains the perennial Catholic teaching on this matter that the word “Church” has one meaning. It is the Kingdom of God on earth; the people of the Divine Covenant, the true Israel of God, the one social unit outside of which salvation cannot be found. Prior to the coming of Christ, this ecclesia, this people of the Divine Covenant had been the people of Israel. But when they rejected Our Lord Jesus Christ, they lost their status as the true Israel of God. Modern-day Jews cannot truly be considered sons of Abraham, since they have forsaken the Faith of Abraham in regard to Jesus Christ our Redeemer. [34]

Thus, to speak as if today’s Jews have no need to convert is contrary to Scripture, contrary to the infallible Catholic doctrine of the centuries, and a supreme lack of charity. Jews, as well as all non-Catholics, need to be told in Christ-like charity, and with no bitterness, that it is crucial for them to accept Christ and His Catholic Church as the one and only means established by God for salvation.

In doing this, one can readily adopt the gentle wording of the moral theologian Father Francis Connell who said in 1944 that Catholics need to be instructed to tell non-Catholics when asked that “we consider them deprived of the ordinary means of salvation, no matter how excellent their intentions.” [35]

• The Doctrine of the Two Kingdoms: Our Catholic Faith has always taught that all of mankind is divided into two Kingdoms. As Leo XIII teaches in Humanum Genus, from the time of Adam, mankind “separated into two diverse and opposite parts,” the one that holds steadfastly for truth, and the other of those that are contrary to virtue and to truth. “The one is the kingdom of God on earth, namely, the true Church of Jesus Christ; and those who desire from their heart to be united with it, so as to gain salvation … The other is the kingdom of Satan, in whose possession and control are all whosoever follow the fatal example of their leader and of our first parents, those who refuse to obey the divine and eternal law…” [36]

Every man on earth is part of one of these two kingdoms.
There is no third alternative.

Unfortunately – speaking in the objective order — all who are separated from the Church are part of the Kingdom of Satan, whether they recognize it or not. They are outside the reality of sanctifying grace, and membership in our Lord’s ecclesia.

Msgr. Fenton explains, “In rejecting the Redeemer Himself, the social unit [the old Jewish religious commonwealth] had automatically rejected the teaching God had given about Him. The rejection of this message constituted an abandonment of the Divine Faith itself. By manifesting this rejecting of the faith, the Jewish religious unit fell from its position as the company of the chosen people. It was no longer God’s ecclesia, His supernatural kingdom on earth. It became part of the kingdom of Satan.” [37]

Fenton continues, “At the moment of Our Lord’s death on Calvary, the moment when the old dispensation was ended and the Jewish religious association ceased to be the supernatural kingdom of God on earth, this recently organized society of Our Lord’s disciples began to be the supernatural Kingdom of God on earth, this recently organized society of Our Lord’s disciples began to exist as the ecclesia, or the kingdom.” [38]

Pretending modern-day Jews enjoy some of third alternative of fidelity to God is a rupture with the teaching of the Sacred Scripture and with Catholic doctrine of all time. The true doctrine of the Catholic Church throughout the centuries cannot be denounced as being somehow cruel or “anti-Semitic”, for to accuse God and His beautiful Divine Revelation as cruel is a manifestation of blasphemy.

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De facto schism: Year by year the dissenters have moved farther and farther from Catholic orthodoxy.

schism

For fifty years in this country the dissenters and accomodationists have traveled along the corridors of the Church without much serious interference from the hierarchy, living in a kind of parallel church or church within a church, with its own rules and answerable only to itself, all the while funded with money donated (in many cases) by misled and victimized faithful Catholics. Which is to say that we have something that is very close to a de facto schism.

Year by year the dissenters’ theology has moved farther and farther from Catholic orthodoxy, and with few exceptions no one has been calling them out. Unlike their dissenting cousins on the other end of the theological spectrum, the Lefebvrists, who left the Church in formal schism, the liberal dissenters have been clever and officially stayed inside the Church… and in control of their institutions and positions of power. Of course, this could only happen because the hierarchy has allowed it to happen, and in some instances even promoted it by placing dissenters and accomodationists in positions of influence in chancery offices and Catholic schools, and in the departments of the United States Catholic Conference itself.

In some cases entire institutions are in open defiance of Church teaching.

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Can Catholics (Licitly and/or Faithfully) Accept the Theory of Evolution?


This is a great, two-part series by Monsignor Charles Pope, of the Archdiocese of Washington, who is a constant teacher of the authentic faith of the one, holy, apostolic, and Catholic church.

The reader comments tend to be almost as interesting and informative as the article’s content.

Read part one here

Read part two here