Since 2000, Ottawa Archbishop Marcel Gervais has expressed his opinion on a variety of faith topics. These texts were initially published in the "Ask the Religion Experts" column which appears every Saturday in The Ottawa Citizen. As of June 2005, Msgr. Patrick Powers, Vicar General, will be taking on the responsibility of the weekly articles.

What does your faith group teach about heaven? Will we see our loved ones there?

Heaven is the fulfillment of Gods salvific plan for the whole world, the state of happiness for those who have died in Christ. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, (no. 2794) reminds us that heaven is not a place, but a way of being. Heaven is the state which brings full and lasting satisfaction to our whole being through union with the Holy Trinity in Christ.

Theologians teach that the joy of the state of heavenly glory is precisely that union with the Trinity, which they refer to as the beatific vision. This bliss is rounded off by the glorification of the body and the enjoyment of the renewed universe and the company of the blessed. The fullness of glory will be realized after Christs Parousia, when all who have died in grace will receive back their glorified bodies in the reconstituted universe.

To answer the second half of your question: Union with God will be all-sufficient to make the blessed entirely happy. Nonetheless, because the blessed show forth the wonderful works of God in Christ, they will also take delight in contact with each other: Our Lady, the angles and the saints. This contact will not be exactly the same as it was while on earth. In heaven, we will not maintain the same human attachments we had on earth. There will be full accord of spirit with all who, in Christ, live for the glory of the Blessed Trinity. But complete happiness will be found only in our full unity with God and in giving him glory.

In that sense, we are reminded of the vision of the heavenly Jerusalem which is found in the Book of Revelation (21:2): Human beings, fully glorified in body and soul, shall in Christ, share with the angels this union with the Blessed Trinity.