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What is eternal life?
After reading the correspondence about “The nature of heaven”, here is an extract of what Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger wrote in his book God Is Near Us, under “What is eternal life?”:
“In our mortal life every moment is too short, because life itself seems to pass away with the moment before we can catch hold of it, while at the same time, each moment is too long for us, because the great number of moments, each always the same as the others, becomes too laborious for us.
“Eternity on the other hand is not a matter of lasting a long time or of what comes afterwards, something about which we can form no notion at all.
“Eternity is a new ‘quality of existence’, in which duration as an endless sequence of moments ‘disappears’ so that present and eternity are not, like present and future, located side by side and separated.
“As eternity is not endless time, but another level of being, the dividing line between eternal and temporal life is not of a chronological order; so that the years before death would be temporal life; the endless time afterward would be eternal life.”
As Jesus himself said: “He who hears my word and believes him who sent me, has eternal life, he has passed from death to life” (John 5:24).
Eternal life is “in the midst of time” wherever we come face to face with God through the contemplation of the living God and as such is an indestructible love from which springs the courage and the joy to go on, even when exterior things are painful and hard, a situation which is so well expressed in Psalm 73 (Hebr.).
In other words, “heaven is eternal life”, and as eternal life is in the midst of time, Our Lady (although the Cardinal does not mention her) being “full of Grace” must have already experienced heaven during her life on earth notwithstanding she voluntarily accepted to be the Queen of Martyrs during her earthly life.
Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 28 No 9 (October 2015), p. 9
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