My Faith/Teen Faith

What Will Heaven Be Like?

If you went back a few years and took a look at my high school locker, you’d be guaranteed to find a few things: an unopened Algebra textbook, an empty coffee cup, and a picture of St. Thérèse with the quote, “the world’s thy ship and not thy home.”

As I navigated the trying times of high school, I kept these words from St. Therese in the back of my mind; occasionally referring to them when I needed an encouraging thought or quick pick me up. When I struggled with insecurities or pain from broken relationships, I’d promptly be consoled by the truth of the words that St. Therese spoke: I was made for something greater than what the world offers.

Although I consistently turned to these words in times of suffering, they were easy for me to ignore when they called me outside of my comfort zone or into something greater. I found myself chasing worldly affirmations until they left me empty, only to remind myself that I wasn’t made for this world. This approach was problematic because yes, these words are comforting, but they were also convicting. I wasn’t made for this world, but I was exhausting myself trying to be, and that never brought fulfillment.

The truth is, this sentiment is more than just an encouraging excerpt from the life of a saint — it’s the commission of our lives: to be united with Christ, here on Earth and in Heaven for eternity. It’s the truth that reminds us that everything the world offers us will fall short of the longings of our hearts because we were made to know a Love that is greater. Fulfillment will only come when we orient our hearts towards the home we are eternally destined for. But this begs the question, what will heaven actually be like? What does that eternal destiny mean?

Destined for Greatness

The Catechism says, “Heaven is the ultimate end and fulfillment of the deepest human longings, the state of supreme, definitive happiness” (CCC 1024). But just because heaven is our ultimate end does not mean that it’s separated from our current reality. Our lives on this side of Heaven were made to be more than just a waiting room filled with mediocrity and disappointment because God is the eternal Father, and His goodness persists in this life and the next. He willed each one of us into existence not because He needs us, but because He desires to know us and this truth empowers us to do something great and virtuous with our lives right now. So, in a sense, we don’t need to wait for eternity to know what heaven will look like because the Lord has given us the invitation and the grace to encounter Him exactly where we are.

More Than a Waiting Room

So even when my seventeen-year-old self doubted that I had anything great to offer, even when my nineteen-year-old self doubted there was a place for my brokenness in the Kingdom, even when my now twenty-something self struggles with the uncertainty that accompanies surrender, the Lord’s promises do not change. The book of Revelation says:

“They will look upon His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. The night will be no more, nor will they need light from lamp or sun, for the Lord God shall give them light, and they shall reign forever and ever” (22:4-5).

This vision of Heaven calls us out of our waiting room and into the light. It’s not solely a prophetic account of our full communion with the Lord, but an invitation to seek Him during this life. Because He shared in our humanity and bore the weight of our sins, we are invited to be united with Him, even in our brokenness, through the grace we receive in the sacraments. The power of the resurrection grants us the fruits of redemption (CCC 1026) and invites us to look upon His face right now, especially in the Eucharist.

One True Home

The beauty of our faith grants us the opportunity to dwell in deep intimacy with the Lord when we receive Him at Mass. The Eucharist allows us to unite ourselves with the Kingdom of Heaven and anticipate the joy which is to come in eternal life (CCC 1326). This grace that we receive is only a glimpse of what is to come, but it empowers us to share in the goodness of the Lord in our ordinary lives.

Heaven is a profound reality for us as Christians and as a result, our hearts should always be open to receive the grace we need to reach the fullness it offers. We all share a common vocation to become saints. For this reason, we have to consider Heaven as more than an afterthought or final destination, but as our true home and total fulfillment.

We were made for Heaven and everything we do, everything we endure, and everything we believe about ourselves should point us there. Verso l’alto.

About the Author

Kelsey Dassance

I'm a midwest gal at heart but am currently living it up in the Arizona desert, never without iced coffee. My favorite things include climbing mountains, working for Blessed is She, and quoting St. John Paul II far too often. You can find me on Instagram @kelseydassance.

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