…my father complained to me some years ago that no one talked about heaven. I see a couple of reasons for that phenomenon. First, no one wants to be definitive about anything these days. No one wants to take a stand, even though Scripture and the long tradition of Church teaching on this issue are very clear. Society’s “all things are relative” approach has affected theologians, preachers, and teachers of the Gospel. Many are afraid to declare anything absolutely for fear of being marginalized in their careers. Pride affects all of us, but those most responsible for preaching and teaching are attacked in a particular way. As a result, many are unable to bring solid food to an often frightened and discouraged people. What a truncated Gospel remains!
In the face of external confusion and internal pride, those called to preach are often silent on what matters most.
This difficulty is very serious. In an interview in The Rock in September of 1996, Scott Hahn commented:
“In American Catholic scholarly circles, if you choose to say things that are politically incorrect, your career is ruined. You’re blacklisted, you’re not promoted and you’ll actually find it much harder to publish.”
Karl Keating echoed similar concerns when he said in the same interview:
“Scholars are marginalized. Their books don’t get reviewed, they don’t get promoted and the centers of scholarship invite on to their staffs only those people who already agree with majority opinion.”
A second reason is that believing in heaven means preaching and teaching on what Scripture clearly explains is necessary to inherit the kingdom of heaven. Again, some priests, theologians, and other teachers of religion are afraid to teach the absolutes of morality. Again, no one wants to be criticized as “fundamentalist,” “simplistic,” or “not up-to-date theologically.” The effect of all this is a conspiracy of silence on the very topic our Lord intended to help us endure, to persevere, to be nourished in hope, and to be sustained in such a way that we could help others put their hope in a God of love.
What does our faith clearly teach us about our resurrection? Christ suffered and died for our sins. After suffering a horrible death and the seeming loss of all hope that the Apostles and first disciples experienced, He rose gloriously triumphant on Easter morning. Paul teaches us in First Corinthians that what happened to Christ is a sure and firm promise of what is to be ours. Christ rose that we might know He triumphed over death. Those who put their faith in Him will experience the same victory, because our lives are one with Christ through faith and baptism.
This article is an excerpt from Sr. Ann Shield’s booklet What Am I Living For? In this booklet, Sr. Ann shows us how to combat the culture of death with the Word of God that enables us to grasp the inestimable value of each person and ponder the incredible realities that await us in heaven.
This booklet is no longer in print but is available as a FREE electronic download on our website!