The Baltimore Catechism
420. Q. What is Heaven?
A. Heaven is the state of everlasting life in which we see God face to face, are made like unto Him in glory, and enjoy eternal happiness.
The most delightful place we could possibly imagine as Heaven would not be near what it really is. Everything that is good is there and forever, and we shall never tire of its joys. All the pleasures and beauties of earth are as nothing compared with Heaven; and though we think we can imagine its beauty and happiness now, we shall see how far we have been from the real truth if ever we reach this heavenly home.
“God face to face,”–that is, as He is. We shall not see Him with the eyes of the body, but of the soul. That we may see with our natural eyes, two things are necessary: first, an object to look at, and secondly, light to see it. Now, to see God in Heaven we need a special light, which is called the “light of glory.” God Himself gives us this light and thus enables us to see Him as He is. This beautiful vision of God in Heaven is called the “beatific vision,” and thus our whole life in Heaven–our joy and happiness–consists in the enjoyment of the beatific vision.
A. We should bear always in mind these words of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ: “What doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his own soul, or what exchange shall a man give for his soul? For the Son of man shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels: and then will He render to every man according to his works:
What does it benefit the poor creatures in Hell to have been rich, or beautiful, or learned, or powerful? If they had been good, it was all that was necessary to escape all their sufferings. Is there anything on earth that they would not give to be released? Why, then, did they sell their souls for so little while on earth? The present is the only time you have to merit Heaven and escape Hell. The past you cannot recall, and of the future you are not sure. Then use the present well and decide daily whether you wish to be in Heaven or in Hell.
NOTE–Wherever in the foregoing pages explanations have been omitted after certain questions or answers it is because the matter they contain has been explained in some preceding question, or is to be explained in some following question, or is clear enough in itself without explanation. The explanations of such questions or answers can be easily found by referring to the index.