With the recent canonizations of Sts. John XXIII and John Paul II, the Catholic Church once again gives evidence that Heaven is for real–that certain holy persons in this life are really in Heaven interceding for us, mediating miracles through the grace of God. Speaking of the grace of God, his Mercy, this past Sunday also marked the Feast of Divine Mercy, a feast which signals the truthfulness of St. Faustina Kowalska’s claims that Jesus personally spoke to her about his great mercy. Dr. Tracy Jamison, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the Athenaeum, weaves the canonizations, the Feast of Divine Mercy, and another private revelation story–this one of Colton Burpo’s account of Heaven during a near-death experience–into the following reflection, Heaven is for Real: A Meditation for the Canonizations of St John Paul II and St John XXIII.
Claims to divine revelation are a fact of human experience. There’s no denying that people are fundamentally religious. So everyone has to decide, “Is God for real, or is God a delusion? And is heaven for real, or is heaven a delusion?” There is no way to avoid the question. There is no consistent way to be neutral about it. As Catholics, we believe in God, in heaven and hell, and in divine revelation. And we believe that God is a Person, not a force. In all ages and in all cultures, in every human person’s life and in every human person’s heart, God reveals himself. God is the Person who has created us and wants to be known by faith. God is our Father. God is real. God is there. God is not silent. God speaks to us in the depths of our hearts, and we listen. God gives us everything we need in order to believe that he exists and rewards virtue.
But some people have greater needs than others. Indeed, some people must undergo a great personal struggle in order to believe. We see this in the Gospels as people struggle to believe in Jesus. We see this in the Apostles of Jesus themselves. We see this especially in the Apostle Thomas after the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Jesus has mercy on him in his unbelief. Jesus gives him a revelation which helps him to have faith. Jesus does the same for Saul on the road to Damascus. St Thomas and St Paul come to believe not only that Jesus is resurrected but also that Jesus is God. Many religious people believe in resurrection and immortality, but they do not necessarily believe that Jesus is God. That Jesus is God is a dogma that is hard for many people to accept. Dogma is always a good thing. It brings clarity even when it is not believed.
That Jesus is God is one of those dogmas that make Christians what they are. In order to be a true Christian, you have to believe it.
Continue reading Heaven is for Real
To read another recent article of Deacon Jamison’s, Theology of the Body for Hobbits, go here and scroll down a bit.