The Meaning of Heaven and Hell
By Heaven we find inspiration – By Hell we find foreboding. Through these two poles apart we achieve our salvation.
These two Last Things are the crucial Tenets of Christian belief and for that matter Islam and Judaism. The Far Eastern religions speak of the Nirvana as Heaven. Without Heaven and Hell these theistic three religions of God the Father have no proper compunction and integrity. Is it all a con? We are all OK. - Don’t get worried! No one goes to Hell. This is fatally erroneous thinking. If we believe in Heaven we must accept the reverse side is Hell. Heaven has no meaning without Hell. It becomes placid and pastoral and the Kingship of Christ in heaven is neutralised and air brushed out if Hell has no effect. Heaven is a Kingdom and Kings have armies, Royal Palaces and Courtiers, Courts of Justice even Kingly politics. These are all features of life in Heaven I perceive. Heaven is not a place of sleep in my view. Most importantly Christ is the High Priest who offers Mass daily in Heaven like Priest on earth. Christianity reaches its zenith in Heaven in this sacrifice of the Mass offered by Jesus Christ as the Apostles saw Him do on the day before he died in Jerusalem. Heaven has so much to offer each one of us we yearn for that goal of eternal happiness.
2. The Significance of Hell and Eternal Damnation
This Damnation has to exist to give meaning to Heaven. In life badness is showed up by good and we wish to emulate the good men living and dead. These good men are lit up not only by Heaven but by the contrast with Hell’s darkness. How does a soul end up in Hell? By not “bearing fruit” in the deepest sense as Christ taught. By examining our lives closely we will know if we have done so. We “bear fruit” not only in the obvious ways but also in the unseen and subtle methods. Our positive contribution to the unseen world from this visible world before we die is vital to our entry to paradise. Have we secured the reward of the life to come whilst on earth! This would be presumptuous and a contradiction. Heaven lies in wait for us but confirmation of our future Heavenly status will not be assured until we go before our Maker – whoever we are : Mother Theresa or the Mahatma. We cannot see past the veil yet the Church does venerate her Saints and Martyrs when they have died. In our hearts of hearts we have more than an inkling that we are on the right road or not. We “drive” ourselves to the next world but there is no photo finish nor dead heat nor does God deal in hair line cracks. He does not do things by halves. It is pass with flying colours or nothing for R.M. Lamb. He places His reliance on the crusading energy of His Son and Mary to take us through earth into Heaven. You do not end up in Heaven by accident you have to intensely desire Heaven and thus detest Hell. The desire for Heaven will provide forward impetus and the fear of damnation will have the same effect for each soul. Believer or non believer Heaven and Hell make themselves felt. How may anyone not run a mile from Hell? The secrets of human hearts are for Christ to observe with his Father. We simply do not know…. If anyone close to us is in jeopardy for his soul. We do however pick up mere glimmers of the contest going on in each soul. Like the Good Samaritan, we should bind up the wounds and carry the injured victim to the Inn and pay for the victuals. You will not “bear fruit” if you do not desire Heaven – The light of Heaven illuminates the Earth and thereby our hearts and souls. We must respect God’s Judgement and His power above all else in the seen and unseen Worlds. Only He will decide on the fate of souls. The purpose of Hell is to concentrate our minds on desiring Heaven. Nothing may be worse than binding separation from God the Father Himself. There is no shame in admitting the fear of Hell has driven you to Heaven. It is a perfectly logical and sensible conclusion. God is no fool and works in the open to save souls in this manner all over the globe.
3. Further extrapolation:
God did not create the world to damn it. He started the world with the promise of eternal life to Adam and Eve even after they had eaten the forbidden fruit. Then he sent His only begotten Son in to the world to redeem us. These are not the thoughts and actions of a “hanging Judge” as they used to say who punishes in an indiscriminate harsh and unjust way. At the end of the day when we encounter Him in death we desire His decision for us be it Heaven or Hell. We will devoutly desire nothing else so great is the goodness of God the Father. May Hell ever be phased out and the unseen World be reunited? I take it they were united until Michael the Archangel with his Angels expelled Lucifer the Prince of Darkness and his fallen “angels” from Heaven. Is there no hope for those who languish in Hell? Some would say no hope but I would beg to differ. Nothing is beyond God and He will listen and heed those who plead in charity for condemned souls. God so loves the world seen (and unseen). – He will not neglect his flock and His Son will bring back the lost sheep, even those in Hell conceivably. That is my song of Hope but Heaven must decide these matters as the unseen world is far greater in importance than the seen world. I am no prophet nor theologian nor priest but a mere follower of Christ who never gives up hope for himself nor anyone else – friend or foe.
This is a concept that does not bear close examination whatever Cardinal Newman wrote in his musical work “The Dream of Gerontius” – yes a dream and no more – not the reality of eternal happiness contrasted to the darkness of Hell. No one need fear purgatory. It has no proof in reality or religion or through other means. At the very most it is conjecture and Christ did not thrive on guessing. He spelt out the message in His teaching before and after His death; the choice is the Company of His Father in Heaven or the gnashing and grinding of Teeth. Let us go by the Great Teacher and Mediator Himself – You have a stark and simple choice: you desire Heaven and shun Hell and go to Heaven or you fall in with the Prince of Darkness and go to Hell. Anything else would be to deceive – Richard! Dare I say it the lure of Purgatory holds no charm or comfort for me and it should hold none such for others. We should not pull the wool over the eyes of our fellow men and women. If you deserve Heaven you will receive your reward and God will not keep you waiting. He does not delay his souls their enjoyment of paradise. He desires their presence with Him immediately. Be not abashed to take your seat at the High Table, - it awaits you and courtesy demands you take that place when the time comes! Do not be late for that supper.
Where does this leave us? We take heart in our earthly companionship and Heavenly support to strengthen us in life. The truth is if we live good lives we go to Heaven as Christ taught us. There can be no doubt about that. Yet the paradox is even the best of us may fall from grace. For some their words and actions will condemn them from an early stage in life. – Will a deathbed conversion and contrition save the day – possibly, only God may say! Do not leave it to the last I say – you may be too late: No one can be certain and take God’s discretion and mercy away. This is the contradiction: We are confident of being saved but we must admit our fallibility and moral frailty. If we are honest with ourselves we will admit the obverse and converse faces. That is the essence of the life eternal – only God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit admit us to Heaven and only He reigns supreme within His Kingdom namely “Christ the King”. We are the mere mortals made immortal in Heaven by His Father’s life-giving mercy - if we pass muster.