• Fr. Paul MacNeil

Nov. 6/7 Top 10 things that will surprise you about heaven

Top 10 things that surprise you about heaven

I’ve thought a lot about our wonderful cloud of witnesses, the saints. Technically, a saint by definition, is someone who is in heaven with God, so we are all destined to be saints in that sense. But also, a saint is someone we admire for having heroic virtue. The question I’ve been asking myself about our saints is, “why?” What would possess someone to make the kinds of sacrifices that saints make? I’d suggest that several things make such devotion easier to understand at least:


  • 1st, the hero in heroism does not come from the force of will or determination on the part of the saint, it is a gift from God. That’s why it’s so heroic; it is beyond human capacity and understanding. We have all experienced this in some way, just look back on a part of your life that was particularly difficult and ask yourself how you got through it.

  • Second, I think it has a lot to do with our recognition and understanding of a particular kind of truth - in this case, the truth that Jesus Christ is real; he did rise from the dead. Think about it this way, if that is true, shouldn’t that change the way we live our lives? Some day we are all going to have to take our last breath, and someday we are going to stand face to face in front of the judgment seat of God. Let that one sink in. I, for one, believe it, and it was part of my decision to become a priest - if I can make this work, then I will stand with confidence before Jesus, knowing that I did my best to serve him in this life.

  • Thirdly, the decision to follow Jesus contains its rewards. It is a peaceful, grace-filled way to live, and you feel it deep inside. No storm can stir my inmost calm.

  • Finally, I believe very strongly in the rewards of paradise. Here is a fun list of the top 10 things that will surprise you about heaven:

  1. That it exists - we believe in the resurrection of the body, and heaven will be experienced as something very concrete and tangible.

  2. That you’re there - you made it! (In this life, assurance is an act of faith, not in the next life)

  3. How beautiful it is - sights and sounds you have never heard before! And it will be eternal, with no more suffering, no more violence, no war, only peace and love.

  4. That your friends are also there - the best things in life are shared.

  5. How friendly and personable and close God is - it’s about recognition: "we knew Him all along,” didn’t realize it.

  6. How much your life makes sense now that you are in heaven. It’s about perspective. Think about the two sides of a beautiful tapestry or needlepoint. One side makes sense; the other doesn’t. But it will once you see it from the other side.

  7. How involved God has been in our lives, how protective God has been

  8. How merciful God is - God is not interested in your sin - let it go.

  9. How and why you got to heaven - you may be a good person, and that’s wonderful, but our ticket into heaven is simpler than that. All you have to do is believe in Jesus.

  10. How much God loves you - this is the central message of our whole catholic theology. That love is real, and it is amazing.

I once gave a homily on the cross, and, miracle of miracles, when I googled “The Old Rugged Cross,” this song came up. I should let google write my homilies; JUST KIDDING!

My life flows on in endless song;

Above earth’s lamentation

I hear the sweet though far off hymn

That hails a new creation:

Through all the tumult and the strife

I hear the music ringing;

It finds an echo in my soul—

How can I keep from singing?

What though my joys and comforts die?

The Lord my Savior liveth;

What though the darkness gather round!

Songs in the night He giveth:

No storm can shake my inmost calm

While to that refuge clinging;

Since Christ is Lord of Heav’n and earth,

How can I keep from singing?

I lift mine eyes; the cloud grows thin;

I see the blue above it;

And day by day this pathway smoothes

Since first I learned to love it:

The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart,

A fountain ever springing:

All things are mine since I am His—

How can I keep from singing?


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