In Heaven: which will it be, rest or activity?

At funeral Mass, we pray for the "eternal rest" of the deceased person. What kind of rest are we talking about?

At funeral Mass, we pray for the “eternal rest” of the deceased person. What kind of rest are we talking about? Does it mean that in Heaven we will do nothing at all, that personal progress will be accomplished? RCF Catholic Radio enquired “In Heaven, which will it be: rest or activity?” Fr. Pierre Gazeau, one of the chaplains at the shrine, sheds light.

In the Scriptures, Jesus speaks of the rest with regards to Heaven: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest” (Mt 11:28). He thus demonstrates that rest comes from him. So in Heaven, if we are close to the Lord, we will experience rest. During funerals, we pray for our deceased to enter into eternal rest.

What kind of rest is that?

The catechism of the Roman Catholic Church states that in Heaven our greatest desires will be fulfilled by the Lord and thus, that it will be utter rest. Just as desire is a tension -which vanishes as soon as one has acquired the object of the desire- in the same manner, when the Lord fulfills our desires, we reach rest. Our utmost longing is to see God, so in Heaven we shall rest because we will be close to him.

This rest is legitimate because it is natural to rest, to retire, to go on vacation when you have been working. The Lord created us in this way. However if one is on vacation throughout the year, one no longer savours the rest, moreover, one does not rest any longer. Rest comes after, subsequently, as the result of a tension that was fair.

Once going through Purgatory is done, is it rest at long last?

The purpose of purgatory is to complete what we were created for, to become holy. Often we have a rather passive image of Heaven: further to having done our best on earth and let God work on us in purgatory, we will do nothing other than see God. Indeed Heaven does consists in contemplating God face to face, but this vision is at the same time an activity.

The main purpose of beatitude is to see God. In the Gospel, we read: “We shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” (1 Jn 3: 2). Sanctification is a process that encompasses the beatific vision: the more I contemplate God, the more I am transformed. And this transformation makes me even more capable of seeing God.

Whilst seeing God, the second object of beatitude consists in seeing creatures as He sees them. Here again, it is an activity that involves a progression. God created everything, from the infinitely small to the infinitely big, and we will then take stock of the whole of his Creation. By contemplating God, we will share in his gaze and we will be able to know as He knows. An infinite apprehension to be grasped! Maybe it will start with getting to know the people we loved on earth. When we meet them again, we will experience a great joy in seeing them in the manner we used to know them, but moreover as God sees them.

In Heaven, we shall be amazed !

Often we believe that all personal progress will come to an end once one passes away, due to our warped idea of holiness. Indeed, we consider it only as the absence of sin. It is true that in Heaven we will be purified of all sin, but God does not solely expect us to be sinless. There will also be all the magnitude of what God wants reveal to us.

How marvellous to think that all the images we have of Heaven are so far from what it really is. We can’t even imagine one thousandth of what the Lord has in store for us. We all shall be amazed, believe me!

Shall we have an activity in Heaven?

Saint Teresa of the Infant Jesus stated “I will spend my Heaven by doing good on earth.” It provides an inkling on what is going to take place in Heaven. What St. Therese said is true to life: numerous people have been answered further to invoking her! The saints are engaged in intercession for the living, it is part of their life in Heaven. Since they are with God, they are with us. This closeness, this exchange of spiritual goods is fulfilled in the communion of saints.

The closer we get to the Lord, the closer we get to those who are by him, the saints. Thus the more effective their intercession. One of our activities in Heaven will be to intercede for people on earth. Already we can undertake this activity which is Heaven’s. We shall carry it out until the end of times.

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