Saturday, February 12, 2011

Heaven again

"But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth."
 – John 4:23-24
Dante and Beatrice gaze upon the highest Heaven

The song "Heaven again" is sort of an experiment. I had written out these lyrics and wasn't able to come up with a suitable melody. So I decided to turn it into a sort of hip-hop tune.

The topic is Heaven. The lyrics arose out of a conversation I had with my daughter. She made a comment to the effect that she thought that Heaven would be a kind of place to chill and party after all the hard times that we experience here on Earth. (At least that's how I interpreted what she said.)

Part of the thinking behind her comments I think is this popular idea that everyone is going to gain free access to Heaven after this life is over. This kind of goes hand in hand with another popular notion that sin is an obsolete and old-fashioned idea just to make everyone feel guilty, and scare little kids into doing what their parents say.

There is nothing to support these ideas in the teachings of Jesus. It is popular these days to emphasize the forgiving side of Jesus' teachings, while ignoring his warnings about sin and damnation and the difficulty in attaining entry into Heaven in the afterlife.

One easy cop-out is to say that we don't know what happens after death and that we don't know if Heaven and Hell even exist. These statements are only partially true. It's true that we have no direct physical evidence of Heaven and Hell, or of life after death. But we do have some knowledge of the afterworld from Jesus Christ Himself. We can choose to ignore those teachings, but we to do so at our own peril.

The belief in life after death is essential to Christianity. It is a fundamental part of our faith. It is Christ's conquering of death through His Resurrection that ultimately gives hope to all Christians. All of this revolves around the existence of Heaven and Hell, and our eventual destinies once we leave this life. And while we don't have a definitive picture of Heaven, we do have insights into the nature of God's Kingdom.

I hope that this short song is entertaining, but that it also stimulates some thinking about the nature of Heaven and what it will take to enter into it in the afterlife. I don't think that there is anything in the lyrics of this song that contradicts the teachings of the Catholic Church on Heaven.

In case you're wondering, the title "Heaven again" was simply an alternative I came up with to naming a second version of this song Heaven II. The original title of the song was "Heaven's not a party". When I came up with the title  "Heaven again", I realized that it had a poetic rhyming quality and liked it. So I decided to just keep it – even though it lacks true meaning.

The only person that can talk about being in "Heaven again" is Jesus. For the rest of us, it is what we are striving for as our ultimate goal – at least that should be the goal of all Christians. And that is a good and worthy goal on every level – morally, ethically, spiritually, philosophically. But it is a goal that many people have lost sight of in modern society, and the consequences of that are visible all around us.

Heaven again
© Public Vigil 2010

I don’t know what you believe
But, Heaven’s not a big party
No people flying to and fro
With lots to eat and lots of shows

Neither is it a paradise
Where we go to find delight
No honey flowing rivers here
No gardens full of swans and deer

Heaven is much more than this
Where we can live in holy bliss
God is a spirit and so are we
We live beyond time and earth and dreams

Beyond the sun, beyond the stars
Not very near or very far
In clouds of glory we are dressed
Our very essence is to be blessed

And then there is the Mighty One
And along with Him, His only Son
The Holy Spirit with them resides
The Three are One, are One, are One

All the mysteries are now revealed
The things that Jesus spoke of are real
Reach out and touch his pierced side
And praise him for His sacrifice

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