Jan 18, 2019
Recently I received a letter from a lady in Seattle in which she said that when she dies she will miss all the good things of this life. She said that while she wants to go to heaven, she does not want to go to some sterile place. Heaven might not be as interesting as earth. What follows is an adaptation of my response to her. (She gave me permission to publish it as long as I did not use her name.)
With many people you share the notion that heaven and earth are disconnected and that at the end of time the earth will be no more. But the authentic Catholic view is that God will save not only our souls, but also our bodies and, indeed, the whole created order within which human persons exist.
The Constitution on the Church of Vatican II states: “The Church . . . will receive her perfection only in the glory of heaven, when will come the time of the renewal of all things. At that time, together with the human race, the universe itself, which is so closely related to man and which attains its destiny through him, will be perfectly re-established in Christ” (no. 48).
The Bible speaks of this renewal of the universe as the coming about of a “new heavens and a new earth” (2 Peter 3:13). This will be the complete realization of the glorious end for which humanity and the whole created order are destined.
In his letter to the Romans, St. Paul speaks of a profound unity of all things in heaven: “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God . . . in hope because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay . . . We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now; and not only the creation but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” (8:19-23).