Timmy McCaffery, Family Life Apostolate
Teaching high school boys for almost ten years, this was a question I got quite regularly. It is a very human question. Naturally, when the topic of Heaven comes up, we want to know what it’s going to be like. There are many reasons for this. One is certainly because there’s so little information on it. Scripture speaks of Heaven in images and symbols. Another, perhaps, more important reason, is that Heaven is what we were made for. Eternal communion with God is our destiny, and we want to know more about it.
So, what kind of relationship will we have with our family and friends in Heaven? First, we will still be ourselves. We will be purified of all our sins and will forever enjoy the beatific vision, but we will do so with full knowledge of who we are and of our lives on earth. Here it is important to mention the greatness of the communion of saints. We must pray for our deceased loved ones. We tend to idealize our loved ones after they die, and so fail to remember to intercede for them. We must remember that none of our family or friends are perfect, and that upon their death, it is our responsibility as the Church to pray for them. That said, we can rest assured that once they reach the Heavenly Kingdom, they’ll be interceding for us!
Ok, we know they are praying for us, but when we get there, will we know each other? The Catechism quotes St. Cyprian in paragraph 1028, saying that in Heaven we will “delight in the joy of immortality in the Kingdom of heaven with the righteous and God’s friends.” In Heaven we will rejoice in adoration of God together, in perfect communion with all those who are there. A bit earlier it states “Heaven is the blessed community of all who are perfectly incorporated into Christ.” (CCC 1026)
In Heaven, we will know each other, but we will experience our communion with one another differently. It will be all about God! This means a couple of things. First, we will be there praising and adoring God for all eternity in full communion with Him. But as Joseph Ratzinger said long before he was elected Pope, “Heaven is a stranger to isolation.” So we will exist both as individuals and as part of a “blessed community,” and we will know one another precisely in the communion we share. What this means is we will know each other most fully once we’re in Heaven together!