(LifeSiteNews) — On this solo episode of The John-Henry Westen Show, I discuss some of Holy Mother Church’s lesser known teachings about heaven and hell, including St. Augustine’s humorous yet meaningful pronouncement that people won’t be fat in heaven.
While a discussion about our weight in heaven might seem to be one of lesser importance, the Church’s teaching on this matter actually gives us profound insight into the reality of perfection in the afterlife.
On the topic of whether people will be fat in heaven, the Catechism of the Council of Trent — which is the greatest teaching document the Church has — officially teaches by quoting fourth century Doctor of the Church St. Augustine: “There shall then be no deformity of body; if some have been overburdened with flesh, they shall not resume its entire weight. All that exceeds the proper proportion shall be deemed superfluous.”
Translation — you won’t be fat in Heaven.
Before we delve into the importance of this, let us back up a little. When you die, your soul is separated from your body, and your soul immediately goes to judgment before God.
However, after the end of the world, our bodies will be resurrected and reunited with our souls, as we all face the general judgement.
What many may see as a curveball is that this bodily resurrection is for everyone, which is to say, those in heaven AND those in hell.
Of course, this reality of bodily resurrection leads us to wonder: If I’m to spend eternity in my body, surely it will have to be in a better state than it was when I died?
And to this, the Church assures us that this is precisely the case! Our bodies will indeed be changed, and in fact, they will be perfected!
Even our hair will be different, as St. Augustine teaches, “Man shall not resume his former hair, but shall be adorned with such as will become him.”
In other words, whether we are balding, frizzy, gray or too thick, we ought not fear.
In addition, our limbs will also be fully perfected. That is to say, without any deformity, disability, scarring, blotchiness, dryness, or weakness. However, in God’s providence, there is one exception to this rule — the martyrs.
The martyrs, while their bodies will too be perfected, their scars shall remain, “shining like the wounds of Christ, with a brilliance far more resplendent than that of gold and of precious stones.”
We can think back to St. Thomas’ initial disbelief when coming face to face with the Risen Lord, and then finally believing when he feels the wounds of Our Savior. In like manner, so too will the martyr’s bear their own glorious marks forever in heaven!
Just picture it: All those beheaded for Christ will wear glorious necklaces, and those who had their hands cut off, like the North American Martyrs, will have glorious bracelets for all eternity.
On a sobering note, it is not just those in heaven that will have their bodies, but those in hell too. As the Catechism teaches: “The wicked, too, shall rise with all their members … this restoration of members will serve to increase not their happiness but their sorrow and misery.”
The Fathers of the Church also point to Scripture for more evidence of what exactly our bodily experience of heaven will consist of, noting how Christ Himself taught in Matthew that “The just shall shine as the sun, in the kingdom of their Father.”
This, combined with the shining at the Transfiguration, leads to Holy Mother Church explaining that in heaven our bodies will be glorified by a “Brightness:” “This brightness is a sort of radiance reflected on the body from the supreme happiness of the soul.”
Beyond just the heavenly appearance, the Church also makes clear the reality of heavenly ability granted to our glorified bodies, namely those of supreme agility, subtility (the ability to sense the most minute and subtle sounds, tastes and images), and intellect.
On the spiritual side, heaven means perfect love, a banishment of all loneliness, boredom, sorrow, anger, pain and worry. An extinguishing of all vice and discord, and the grace of “Essential Happiness,” which the Catechism teaches “consists in the vision of God, and the enjoyment of His beauty who is the source and principle of all goodness and perfection.”
What an awesome, incomprehensible joy to look forward to. What an incredible inspiration we have to continue to fight the good fight, to resist the temptations of this world that would deprive us of this unspeakably splendid reward. What a huge consolation when we mourn our dearly departed loved ones who loved Christ, for their reward is SO great in heaven.
This is why the Church tells us to meditate on the Four last things – Death, Judgement, Heaven and Hell. Because it gives us what we need to stay the course, to finish the race, to resist the world, the devil and the flesh. I hope you’ve enjoyed this study and please avail yourselves of the whole of the Catechism of the Council of Trent. It is a hidden treasure.
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