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November 17, 2017 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

Editor’s Note: Asked in the past whether we will know family and friends in Heaven, we have responded in the affirmative. We would now like to call your attention to a book that provides additional confirmation of this belief. It is called In Heaven We’ll Meet Again: The Saints and Scripture on Our Heavenly Reunion, and was written by Francois René Blot, SJ. As just one example of why he believes this to be true, Fr. Blot refers to the parable of the rich man and the poor beggar Lazarus (cf. Luke 16:19-31) and offers these comments:
“I see a proof of it, clearer than day, in the parable of the bad rich man. Does not our Lord there openly declare that the good know each other, and the wicked also? For if Abraham did not know Lazarus, how could he speak of his past misfortunes to the bad rich man who is in the midst of torments? And how could this rich man not know those who are present since he is mindful to pray for those who are absent? We see, besides, that the good know the wicked, and the wicked the good. In fact, the rich man is known to Abraham, and Lazarus, in the ranks of the elect, is recognized by the rich man, who is among the number of the reprobate.
“This knowledge fills up the measure of what each shall receive; it causes the just to rejoice the more because they see that those they have loved rejoice with them; it makes the wicked suffer not only their own pains, but also in some sort the pains of others since they are tormented in company with those whom they loved in this world to the exclusion of God. There is, even for the blessed, something more admirable still. Beyond the recognition of those whom they have known in this world, they recognize also, as if they had seen them and previously known them, the good whom they never saw. For of what can they be ignorant in heaven since all there behold, in the plenitude of light, the God who knows all?”
Fr. Blot also cites the following comments from several saints:
St. Paul — “Do you not know that the holy ones will judge the world?. . . Do you not know that we will judge angels?” (1 Cor. 6:2, 3)
St. Athanasius — “To the souls of the just in heaven God grants a great gift, which is mutual recognition.”
Pope St. Gregory the Great, after telling of a religious, who when dying saw the prophets coming toward him and addressed them by their names — “This example makes us clearly understand how great will be the knowledge which we shall have of one another in the incorruptible life of heaven, since this religious, though still in a corruptible flesh, seemed to recognize the holy prophets whom, however, he had never seen.”
St. Bernard of Clairvaux — “The blessed are united among themselves by a charity which is so much the greater as they are the nearer to God, who is charity. No envy can throw suspicion into their ranks, for there is nothing in one which is concealed from the other; the all-pervading light of truth permits it not.”

Q. At a Bible study I am attending, the teacher said that the passage about “a woman clothed with the sun” in chapter 12 of Revelation refers to Israel. I always thought it referred to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Who is right? — J.C., North Carolina.
A. Both of you are right. Here is the passage in question:
“A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth. Then another sign appeared in the sky; it was a huge red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on its heads were seven diadems. Its tail swept away a third of the stars in the sky and hurled them down to the earth. Then the dragon stood before the woman about to give birth, to devour her child when she gave birth. She gave birth to a son, a male child, destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod. Her child was caught up to God and his throne. The woman herself fled into the desert where she had a place prepared by God, that she might be taken care of for twelve hundred and sixty days” (Rev. 12:1-6).
Scripture scholars have interpreted the woman clothed with the sun in three ways, with the most favored interpretation being that she is Mary. Before getting to that, however, consider two other possibilities. First, the woman represents Israel, who is often portrayed as “daughter Zion” (Isaiah 62:11). Zion was the hill in Jerusalem where the Temple stood and Zion often refers to Jerusalem or the whole people of Israel. The 12 stars could stand for the 12 tribes of Israel, and the pangs of birth would be the sufferings that the Israelites underwent before the Messiah came to rescue them. The flight into the wilderness could refer to the flight of Jewish Christians to the town of Pella before the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70.
The huge red dragon is Satan, with seven heads, seven horns, and seven crowns symbolizing great power and strength. He swept a third of the stars from Heaven, which is seen as a reference to the fall of a third of the angels at the dawn of creation.
Or the woman could be the Church, with the crown of 12 stars pointing to the 12 apostles. The 1,260 days could refer not to a specific period but to a general time of testing and purification that could last from the Ascension of the Lord until the end of history.
But the most popular explanation is that the woman clothed with the sun is Mary, who is often depicted in art with her foot on a serpent, crushing the serpent’s head as foretold in Gen. 3:15. It is her offspring, Jesus, who will defeat the power of the Devil forever. One thing that points away from Mary is that she did not suffer the pangs of childbirth; she was spared that because of her Immaculate Conception. Not having original sin freed her from the pain of childbirth. Some have compared the birth of Jesus to a ray of sunshine passing through a window pane without disturbing the glass.
She did, however, suffer great pain during the Passion of her Son, comparable to having a sword pierce her heart, as Simeon had foretold (cf. Luke 2:35).
The dragon’s attempt to devour the child could reflect King Herod’s attempt to murder Jesus as an infant. The identity of the child is clear from Psalm 2, in which “the one enthroned in heaven” says that “‘I myself have installed my king / on Zion, my holy mountain.’ / I will proclaim the decree of the Lord, / who said to me, ‘You are my son; / today I am your father. / Only ask it of me, / and I will make your inheritance the nations, / your possession the ends of the earth. / With an iron rod you shall shepherd them, / like a clay pot you will shatter them’” (verses 4-9).
The line about the child being caught up to Heaven could refer to Jesus’ Ascension when He was taken into heavenly glory and exalted at the right hand of the Father. Or it could refer to the Assumption of Mary into Heaven, which may be why this passage is read at Mass every year on the Feast of the Assumption.

Q. How do I respond to someone who says Catholics idolize Mary and need her for salvation? — B.K., Washington State.
A. You can say that Catholics only idolize or worship God, but they do pay high honor to Mary for the holy life she led and because she was chosen by God to be the Mother of His Son. The Fourth Commandment tells us to honor our mothers and fathers. Did Jesus keep this Commandment by honoring His Mother? Of course He did. So in honoring Mary we are just following the example of Our Lord.
What’s wrong with honoring the holiest woman who ever lived? We are like the “beloved disciple” who took Mary “into his home” (John 19:27).
The Bible tells us to call Mary “blessed” (Luke 1:48), so Catholics are just following Scripture when they pay tribute to the Blessed Mother. Does this tribute take away from our worship of Jesus? Not at all. Devotion to Mary always leads us to her Son. Mary’s final words in the Gospels, speaking about her Son at the wedding feast in Cana, suggest the course that we are to follow: “Do whatever he tells you” (John 2:5).

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Catholic Replies

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