104 Chapter 8
PLENTY TO DO
time and 'flesh' is not refused, but rather fulfilled, made 'time-full' in
If we leave out Sacred Scripture itself (notably the book of
Revelation), and the firm conviction of the most recent Doctor of the
Church, the Little Flower, for whom heaven was plainly a 'time-full'
place in which the saints could work (and she meant work) with
static, time-less visions of Heaven abound.
If the merits of refusing all dehistoricized cosmology have not been
sufficiently illustrated prior to this point, consider how boring a place
all dehistoricized cosmologies make Heaven itself. Within them all,
Heaven becomes the place where -- at last! -- absolutely nothing new
happens. Within all dehistoricized cosmology, this is considered the
best possible 'place.'
The scientist goes to 'Heaven,' and can finally stop doing science,
for now he can simply read the Genuine Theory of Everything -- over
and over. The medical doctor goes to 'Heaven,' and finally has nothing
to do -- over and over. The idea in popular consciousness, that when
we go to Heaven, we get our harp, we get our white robe, and then we
just hang out, day after day after day, is in fact not wrong about the
time-less Heaven that all dehistoricized cosmologies find inevitable.
St. Therese is right, and all dehistoricized cosmology is wrong: in
Heaven the saints have plenty of real work to do. Work would only be
banished from Heaven if there were something wrong with it -- which
really means, if there were something wrong with finitude itself, and
with time itself. All dehistoricized cosmology accepts, as a matter of
principle, that there is indeed something wrong with finitude and with
time. In all of them, 'Heaven' obviously has to exclude both -- which of
course, is the inevitable exclusion of work. In the 'Heaven' of all time-
less cosmology, the final triumph of the necessary renders all further
actions of bodies in time unnecessary and therefore pointless. Thus,
there can be no work for anyone in Heaven to do.
St. Therese obviously disagrees. In Heaven the saints have plenty
of real work to do. What is different is that, in their communion with
the Risen Lord, they finally have a completely 'time-full' reality in
which to do work. The fallen world, 'flesh,' perceives that it must flee
to the time-less, just to make it through the day. In Heaven, 'flesh' is
fully and freely related in the Eucharistic 'order' of 'flesh,' 'One Flesh,'
'life,' so that it never feels compelled to flee to the time-less. In
Heaven, which is pneuma, 'life' in the Risen Lord sent by the Father to
give the Spirit, nothing of 'flesh' nor of the 'One Flesh' is refused or
destroyed. The Crucified and Risen Lord himself, in his very person,
as both crucified and risen, is the absolute guarantor of that.
1. "Until the end of the world I will
spend my heaven doing good upon
earth." [St. Therese of Lisieux, dying
of tuberculosis at age 24, in 1897.]
N.B. This is an html-ized copy of a page from the pdf file, The Knucklehead's Guide to Covenantal Theology.