Fr. Leo Pabayo .
IT has been said that in the present life now it is our calling to make God’s work to be our own. This resonates with is the official teaching of the Catholic Church which is contained in the documents of Vatican Council II that the good things that we accomplish in this life bear fruit in the kingdom of God while the bad things that we do are like garbage that are destined for the garbage dump or end up to be burned and to vanish in the smoke. The Bible has very strong and frightening language about those who persist in their evil deeds. They are meant to scare us to mend our ways like the way that parents sometimes apply hard means to straighten up the crooked or wayward ways of a son or daughter.
Every All Saints’ and All Souls’ days we remember saints who have passed on to the glory of heaven and the souls of those who are still undergoing purification before they can attain their fullness of life in heaven.
There are many speculations about the nature of where we are at before we attain to the fullness of life in heaven or in the language of the Catholic theology, the process of or the stages of purification that we undergo before arriving to our heavenly home. This very much is in consonant with our human experiences here and now while we are still in our present life. The most human and accurate experience that we know is that of love. The more we grow in love, that is, the love of God and neighbor the more our potentials to love God and to love one another fulfilled are or realized.
The Buddhists speak of Nirvana as our ultimate destiny in life. I do not know what that means for I have not studied of reflected on it. Some speak of reincarnation as a kind of new life whether subhuman or superhuman that form that our bodies assume in the next life depending on the quality of life or lack of it that we live in our present life
One Catholic theologian speculates that before the Resurrection of the dead we stay on in the present world before everything is perfected in Christ. It seems that this is what St. Paul means when he speaks in terms the new heaven and the new earth that the kingdom of God is destined to become.
Our assurance as Catholics on what the next life is going to be is the witness of the saints that we hold as certain from our reading of their witnessing of the glory of heaven that they have experienced in the here and how and most vividly in the act of martyrdom that they suffer which in their process of dying they already experience the glory of heaven just as Our Lord Jesus Christ experienced when he passed on from death to new life on the Cross. He has shared this experience to countless of saints and martyrs that we know of in the lives of the saints and the teachings of the Catholic Church.
One vivid example is the witness given by our Filipino saint, San Lorenzo Ruiz, who after vacillating between denying his faith in Christ and submitting to the will of God in the midst of torture eventually found unimaginable peace and consolation that led him to say to his Japanese torturers that he preferred to undergo a thousand death rather than renounce his faith in Christ. Most of us may not be called to undergo such kind of martyrdom but the kind of life that we try to live to our best experience of grace that we have been bestowed by virtue of the Sacrament of Baptism or Baptism of Desire to live by the redeeming grace gained for us by Christ’s redeeming by his death and resurrection assures us of eventually gaining heaven.