by Fr Peter Michael Scott
When you wear the ring of confidence (the clerical collar) you are instantly recognised as a walking catechism. This goes for hospice ministry as well as parish, hospital, school or prison. The wonderful and challenging aspect is that you never know what sort of catechetical question is going to be asked. In my hospice ministry, there is one I am asked more frequently than others: ‘Why does no one come back from heaven to tell us what it is like?’
It is a brilliant question and one that tantalises me. I immediately think of travel brochures, and how they might describe ‘destination heaven’.
It is perhaps a place of mountains, with fresh green pastures, and restful waters. There are banquets where cups overflow and all are anointed. The virtues of goodness and kindness are celebrated and everyone lives in God’s own house (Psalm 22).
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us that it is ‘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.’ Heaven is the ultimate end and fulfillment of the deepest human longings, the state of supreme, definitive happiness’ (1024).
St John Paul II says it is ‘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’ (General Audience, July 21st, 1999).
Finally let us not forget Jesus on the cross saying to the repentant thief ‘today you will be with me in paradise’ (Luke 23:43). The ‘Heaven destination’ is therefore immediate, where we will rest totally, utterly and peacefully in God. It sounds bliss.
Surely you would not give relatives and friends in ‘destination heaven’ the task of sending a postcard? Let them rest and enjoy peace. After all, given the journey some of them have made, they deserve it.
Please pray for the patients, staff, volunteers and staff of St Joseph’s Hospice.