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Megan wrote:

Hi, guys —

My mom passed away in late April of this year. It has been dreadful for me because I miss her and feel so cut off. When I was talking with my dad about it and he made a curious remark to me.

He said he doesn't quite agree with the Catholic belief that once a soul enters Heaven, they become so enthralled with the adoration of God that they basically forget their earthly life and therefore have no need for the relationships they had here. I was not at all familiar with that and it was like a knife to my heart. It hurt me so much to think of my mom no longer loving me or thinking about me. We were very close, especially as I grew older, (I am in my late 20's), and it is a huge loss for me.

  • Can you explain some of this a little more?

I am not sure where to look for answers. I am sure my mother is now in Heaven and probably doesn't have needs the way that I do but this still troubles me.

  • Does she remember me?
  • Does she think of me?

Please help.

Megan

  { Is my departed mother so enthralled with God that she has forgotten me and my earthly life? }

Mike replied:

Dear Megan,

I sense your father has a misperception about what the Communion of Saints is.

You said:
I am sure my mother is now in Heaven and probably doesn't have needs the way that I do but this still troubles me.

  • Does she remember me?
  • Does she think of me?

Yes and Yes!!

This is one of those cases where the answer takes the form of an and — both, instead of an either — or.

We are enthralled with the adoration of God and that love for Him in Heaven is also manifested in our prayers and support for those He loves who are still pilgrimaging on Earth.

This is what the Catechism says:

The Communion of Saints (the whole section)

II. The Communion of the Church of Heaven and Earth

954 The three states of the Church. "When the Lord comes in glory, and all his angels with him, death will be no more and all things will be subject to him. But at the present time some of his disciples are pilgrims on earth. Others have died and are being purified, while still others are in glory, contemplating 'in full light, God himself triune and one, exactly as he is"': (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 49; cf. Matthew 25:31; 1 Corinthians 15:26-27; Council of Florence (1439): DS 1305.)

All of us, however, in varying degrees and in different ways share in the same charity towards God and our neighbors, and we all sing the one hymn of glory to our God. All, indeed, who are of Christ and who have his Spirit form one Church and in Christ cleave together. (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 49; cf. Ephesians 4:16)

955 "So it is that the union of the wayfarers with the brethren who sleep in the peace of Christ is in no way interrupted, but on the contrary, according to the constant faith of the Church, this union is reinforced by an exchange of spiritual goods." (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 49)

956 The intercession of the saints. "Being more closely united to Christ, those who dwell in heaven fix the whole Church more firmly in holiness. . . . They do not cease to intercede with the Father for us, as they proffer the merits which they acquired on earth through the one mediator between God and men, Christ Jesus . . . . So by their fraternal concern is our weakness greatly helped." (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 49; cf. 1 Timothy 2:5)

Do not weep, for I shall be more useful to you after my death and I shall help you then more effectively than during my life. (St. Dominic, dying, to his brothers.)

I want to spend my heaven in doing good on earth. (St. Thérèse of Lisieux, The Final Conversations, tr. John Clarke (Washington: ICS, 1977), 102)

957 Communion with the saints. "It is not merely by the title of example that we cherish the memory of those in heaven; we seek, rather, that by this devotion to the exercise of fraternal charity the union of the whole Church in the Spirit may be strengthened. Exactly as Christian communion among our fellow pilgrims brings us closer to Christ, so our communion with the saints joins us to Christ, from whom as from its fountain and head issues all grace, and the life of the People of God itself" (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 50; cf. Ephesians 4:1-6):

We worship Christ as God's Son; we love the martyrs as the Lord's disciples and imitators, and rightly so because of their matchless devotion towards their king and master. May we also be their companions and fellow disciples! (Martyrium Polycarpi, 17: Apostolic Fathers II/3, 396)

958 Communion with the dead [or faithful departed]. "In full consciousness of this communion of the whole Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, the Church in its pilgrim members, from the very earliest days of the Christian religion, has honored with great respect the memory of the dead; and 'because it is a holy and a wholesome thought to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from their sins' she offers her suffrages for them." (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 50; cf. 2 Maccabees 12:45) Our prayer for them is capable not only of helping them, but also of making their intercession for us effective.

959 In the one family of God. "For if we continue to love one another and to join in praising the Most Holy Trinity - all of us who are sons of God and form one family in Christ - we will be faithful to the deepest vocation of the Church." (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 51; cf. Hebrews 3:6)

Yes, there is a me and Jesus relationship that is important but, from the Catholic view, there is also a family affair.

This posting may help too:

Also check out my section on the Communion of Saints from my Scripture Passages page.

I hope this clarifies some of the confusion your father has on this topic.

Mike

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