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“Ask a Priest: What’s the Point of Heaven?”
Q: What is the purpose of eternal life? Eternity is a long time. The 5 billion years that Earth has theoretically orbited the sun is a blip of time compared to eternity. So what is eternal life for? I’m skeptical about heaven and eternal life being a place and time just to worship a God who is perfect and really has no need for worship. On Earth, as mortals, worship is more for us than God, but once a person is redeemed what would be the need to worship? Some people say heaven is some kind of blissful existence, but to me, that’s not a purpose. I actually find the idea abhorrent. I’d find it no more an incentive than if someone offered to wire the pleasure centers of my brain so I could sit and spend the rest of my mortal life in ecstasy. That is an empty life, bereft of purpose. I hope someone has an answer. – R.R.
Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC
A: Heaven is where a person would be perfectly happy, being united with his Creator. And perfect happiness by definition wouldn’t be boring. We would be face to face with everything we want: ultimate love, ultimate truth.
Heaven is actually hard for us to imagine. “What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthian 2:9).
Part of the problem is that we are restricted by our worldly way of thinking. We get annoyed at being stuck in traffic for 10 minutes. So we might be tempted to think that being “stuck” in the same place for eternity would be endless drudgery.
But eternity in heaven isn’t endless drudgery. Rather, it’s a blissful “now.” And it will always be “now.”
It certainly won’t be static, either. Why? Because we would be always learning more about an infinitely good and beautiful God. Since God is infinite, and we are finite, we will never run out of things to learn about God. This is why heaven will be always fresh and joyful.
Moreover, we won’t be enjoying heaven solo. We will be enjoying meaningful relationships with all our brothers and sisters in Christ, with everyone in the great assembly who stayed faithful in God in this life.
Certainly, God, being perfect and perfectly happy in himself, didn’t need us. But he created us to give us a chance to share in his happiness. We are the only creatures that God made for our own sake.
For more reading see Peter Kreeft’s Heaven, the Heart’s Deepest Longing or his Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Heaven but Never Dreamed of Asking.
And it’s good to keep in mind that if an eternity in heaven isn’t an appealing idea, the alternative isn’t any prettier.
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