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Why popular depictions of Heaven always fall short


Renata Sedmakova | Shutterstock

Philip Kosloski - published on 11/25/20

Heaven is not a place "in the clouds," but an eternal and intimate relationship with God.
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Heaven is often depicted in paintings or popular culture as a physical place, such as a location “in the clouds.” Yet, this and other illustrations of Heaven fall short and don’t encourage us to run the race to reach our final home.

St. John Paul II reflected on our various images of Heaven in a general audience he gave in 1999. He explains that Heaven is not a place in the clouds, but is more of an intimate relationship with God.

In the context of Revelation, we know that the “heaven” or “happiness” in which we will find ourselves is neither an abstraction nor a physical place in the clouds, but a living, personal relationship with the Holy Trinity. It is our meeting with the Father which takes place in the risen Christ through the communion of the Holy Spirit.It is always necessary to maintain a certain restraint in describing these “ultimate realities” since their depiction is always unsatisfactory. Today, personalist language is better suited to describing the state of happiness and peace we will enjoy in our definitive communion with God.

This is difficult to describe in words, as it does not match our expectations of what a physical Heaven would be like. However, this personal relationship with God is what we truly desire in life, and it will fulfill all of our deepest longings.

When the form of this world has passed away, those who have welcomed God into their lives and have sincerely opened themselves to his love, at least at the moment of death, will enjoy that fullness of communion with God which is the goal of human life.As the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, “this perfect life with the Most Holy Trinity — this communion of life and love with the Trinity, with the Virgin Mary, the angels and all the blessed — is called ‘heaven’. Heaven is the ultimate end and fulfillment of the deepest human longings, the state of supreme, definitive happiness” (n. 1024).

We should be glad that Heaven isn’t a cloudy palace but a real and intimate place where we will be in perfect union with God and all those in union with him.

It is a “place” of ultimate happiness, as we rest quietly in the heart of our loving God. Even though we may not fully understand it, we can be confident that it will be a place of light, happiness and peace.


Read more:
Look forward to the happiness of Heaven


Read more:
Prayer that a deceased person will reach the joys of Heaven

HeavenSpiritual Life
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