|The Near Universal Delusion: "That Heaven Follows Life on Earth Almost as a Matter of Course"|
|Written by Sherry|
|Thursday, 06 September 2012 08:00|
Here's an oh so true essay on a very important topic: the practical near universalism that shapes almost all our pastoral choices, practices, and discussions these days.
'To imagine that heaven follows life on earth almost as a matter of course is to delude oneself."
In my experience, it is true across the theological spectrum - just as true for "traditional" Catholics as for "liberal" Catholics. The roots of this working assumption is deeper than our theological and ecclesial debates
"Second, there has been a loss of any distinction between the life of nature and the life of grace. Much teaching and pastoral example today implies that being a Catholic is simply one way to cultivate civic virtue and good manners. What has largely been forgotten is the meaning and importance of sanctifying grace, by which we become adopted children of God, enjoying the gift of second-person relatedness to God, the ultimate fruit of which is to enter the communion of saints in heaven"
As I wrote in Forming Intentional Disciples, "the common working assumption that we encounter is that personal discipleship is a kind of optional spiritual enrichment for the exceptionally pious or spiritually gifted. . . Personal discipleship will inevitably be treated as a kind of optional accessory in a Catholic community where less than half are confident that they can have a personal relationship with God and nearly 30 percent don't believe in a personal God at all."
If you believe in an impersonal God, the whole concept of becoming an adopted child of God and heaven as dwelling in His Presence with his saints and together contemplating God in the Beatific Vision is completely incomprehensible and meaningless.
And so our debates inevitably become all about earthly ecclesial structures and practices with little or no awareness of the what the structures and practices were instituted to accomplish in the first place.
When we lose sight of the final purpose of all temporal Church structures - the salvation of immortals for who the second person of the Trinity became incarnate, lived, suffered, died, and was raised again - ALL our debates will be and must be fatally distorted.