This episode was inspired when Terry Modica and her husband, Ralph, went to the funeral of a neighbor who was a Jehovah’s Witness. The description of Heaven that they heard from the leader of the congregation was not one that we want to believe in. Terry is joined by Ralph to explain why. Here’s a much better description of the afterlife based on the teachings of the Catholic Faith and the Bible.
Recently Ralph and I went to a funeral of a neighbor who was a Jehovah witness. Well, it wasn’t really a funeral. It was a memorial — of the person’s life. There was no casket, no urn with ashes, and nothing that I would consider to be a religious service. It was an hour-long story-telling about the woman who had died.
The leader of the congregation gave a very long eulogy. At the end everyone sang the song about the afterlife. However the description of the afterlife that we heard from the leader was not one we would want to believe in.
There was no joy in it, no awareness of going to a better place, no point in dying. In true Christianity, with Jesus as a divine savior who took our sins upon himself when he died and whose resurrection gives us eternal life, there is a very important point in dying. In true Christianity, we die to be perfected. We die to become completely holy — purged of all that is not of God — to enter into the fullness of God’s love and God’s life – eternal life — which we can never completely understand and receive while we are still in our earthly lives with limited brains and limited understanding.
My neighbor’s friends and family who are Jehovah’s witnesses sadly think she has just gone to sleep and can do no more as she awaits the day when the Earth is perfected enough by people becoming perfect enough for the Earth to become like the garden of Eden used to be. They believe that Adam and Jesus were the only two men who were created to be perfect. They believe Jesus is the son of God only in the same sense that we are all sons and daughters of God. They believe that Jesus came as a Messiah to show us what perfection looks like so we know what to imitate. They believe that he sacrificed his life for this. But there is no divine Savior and no understanding that we need a savior because we will never be able to be good enough, perfected enough on our own to reach the goal of the new Heaven and new Earth that the Jehovah’s witnesses look forward to. There is no supernatural grace available to help us in our struggle against sin. There is no supernatural grace that come from sacraments, which are God’s divine gifts given to us directly by Jesus.
When I go to a Catholic funeral, I come away from it sad for the loss that the friends and family are suffering but full of joy for the new life that the person who has passed away has entered into.
What do you think Heaven is like? And in this question I include Purgatory. Let’s think for a moment about purgatory not as a place of suffering, because that is only part of it. St. John Paul II pointed out that there is joy in Purgatory. There is joy even while our friends and family who have died and are not yet in the fullness of Heaven are going through a painful process of being purged of everything that had not been holy, experiencing the excruciating pain of regret and remorse and whatever other sufferings this caused by any sinfulness they died in.
So for the sake of this discussion let’s stay focused on the joy of Purgatory and Heaven, and everything else that is good in it. What do you think that goodness looks like?
While I was growing up as a Protestant, I had very little understanding of what Heaven is like. It seemed to me to be just a place of floating around as a spiritual being, happy that I was with God. And that is all I could imagine. And that sounds rather boring!
My understanding changed after I began to look into the teachings of the Catholic Church, and after I was filled with the Holy Spirit and had begun to enjoy an active, personal relationship with the Holy Spirit, who teaches us everything we need to know, as Jesus promised.
More from Good News Ministries:
Also see the video: WHAT IS HEAVEN LIKE? A teaching on Galatians 3:26-27
Read our WordBytes on What does Catholic doctrine teach us about the after-life?
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