Q: Can people from heaven go to hell?
A: Heaven is eternal life with God. So the short answer is no. To participate in the communion of love between God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit should be the ultimate goal for each and every human being. Heaven is the definitive happiness. Heaven has no equal. Once we are with God in heaven, there is no temptation to go anywhere else.
Hell, on the other hand, is “the state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God” (Catechism of the Catholic Church). Hell is reserved for those who have made a free choice not to believe in God or to be converted from sin. In other words, these individuals would not even have made it to heaven in the first place. They chose not to go to heaven.
Through our Baptism, we have been united with Jesus Christ and have therefore become Children of the Light, that is, citizens of heaven. However, we still must live our lives fitting of the gift of the Holy Spirit we have received.
Q: How is God three people in one person?
A: Here is a good transition from the previous question. First of all, we should look at the words used to describe the Holy Trinity: three persons, one God. The faith life of every Christian is based on the reality of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Jesus himself revealed this truth in his prayer to his Father and in his teachings to his Apostles. To be Christian is to believe in and to be baptized in the “name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
Also, the Holy Trinity is a mystery which we profess as a truth in the Creed every Sunday. Many a book or article has been published concerning this mystery. It is our faith, which complements our ability to reason which provides us the ability to appreciate this truth. The Holy Trinity is an object of faith.
It seems easier to explain what the Holy Trinity is not. For instance, there are many components to a computer. Only when all the parts are put together do we have a computer. The screen itself is not a computer. Or, for those of us who know the periodic table from our days in school: When we combine two hydrogen atoms with one oxygen atom, we get water. There are three parts to water. Only when you combine them do you have water. Neither example is an accurate explanation of the Holy Trinity.
All three Persons of the Holy Trinity possess the fullness of God. This is very difficult for us human beings to comprehend with our limited reasoning ability. It requires faith in the words of Jesus to understand that God’s plan for us greatly exceeds our human intellect.
Q: What was Jesus’ last name?
A: When Jesus was born, over 2,000 years ago, last names were uncommon. In ancient times there was little need for a last name. The name of one’s father would be one way to describe a person, such as a son of Zebedee. Jesus would have been known in reference to his foster father Joseph and his mother Mary. A location also described a person, like Jesus of Nazareth.
While you and I find it very helpful, even an honor to possess a last name, Jesus requires no last name. Jesus is the Son of God. The word Christ is a title. The word Christ describes that Jesus is the Messiah.
On the theme of titles, may you and I be ever grateful for our title of Christian. Our very identity has been personally given to us by Jesus himself, true God and true man. Jesus himself has made it possible for you and me to participate in the eternal gift of heaven with the Holy Trinity. In the words of St. Catherine of Siena, “Holy Trinity, you willed that we share all that you are.”
To “Ask the Bishop,” address questions to Joseph M. Taylor, catechetical consultant and youth ministry coordinator in the Diocese of Steubenville Office of Christian Formation and Schools.
Address “Ask the Bishop” to Taylor at P.O. Box 969, Steubenville, OH 43952. Questions can be emailed to Taylor at email@example.com.
Also, Taylor can be reached by telephone at the chancery in Steubenville, (740) 282-3631.