The Communion of Saints and Eternal Life

Authored by Fr. Richard Conrad in Issue #32.2 of The Sower

Heaven is exciting. I do not think this is always made clear. You have doubtless seen several pictures of the Last Judgement. There was often one on the West wall of Mediaeval Churches to remind the departing faithful to live in such a way that they would be among the sheep, not the goats. Many such paintings show the just being welcomed into Heaven, and the wicked cast into hell. Often you suspect that the artist enjoyed painting hell more than he enjoyed painting heaven!

One particular painting, for example, shows Heaven as a city wall, with Angels playing trumpets, while, below, hell is more interesting – a huge dragon breathing fire, inside whom the damned are being boiled in cauldrons, while demons push wheelbarrows full of the wicked into its mouth. You get the impression that the most interesting thing to do in Heaven is to look over the wall and watch what is going on in hell! A limited, even boring, picture of heaven is often seen in modern cartoons showing harps and clouds; a recent survey of children’s views of Heaven showed that they imagined things like endless ice cream. I wonder whether some artists and preachers of the past put too much energy into frightening people off hell because they found it hard to think of ways to attract them into Heaven; and I wonder how many modern preaches and teachers know how to speak excitingly about heaven.

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