Q: Will we recognize each other and be able to talk in heaven?
It is fitting that one of the most frequently asked questions about the faith has to do with what happens after death.
The entire work of Christ and his Church is to make sure souls get to heaven. What life in heaven will be like is a great mystery, but the Church provides us with many clues as to what is to come. First, it is important to note that God has made each and every one of us for heaven. We were made to be saints, made to live with God forever in complete happiness. God created us and redeemed us; He invites us to share in his communion of love, both in this life and in the next.
This is the friendship that God forms with his people — a friendship of communion and love. We, of course, work on our daily sanctification to attain the great promise that God made to us. We want to be friends of God.
As to whether we’ll recognize each other and be able to talk when we get to heaven, it is good to check to see what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says about heaven: “This perfect life with the Most Holy Trinity — this communion of life and love with the Trinity, with the Virgin Mary, the angels and all the blessed — is called ‘heaven.’ Heaven is the ultimate end and fulfillment of the deepest human longings, the state of supreme, definitive happiness.” (CCC, 1024)
Heaven is not a place in the formal and literal sense; rather, it is a state of being, a state of perfect and definitive happiness. In heaven, we see God face to face, fully revealed in all his splendor, majesty and beauty. This action of seeing God is commonly referred to as the beatific vision. This is the ultimate end of each human person, to see God face to face. In seeing God, we share in his freedom from sin and suffering, free from attachment to sin and death, and truly live in complete happiness for all eternity. It is the longing of every human heart in which the great hope of our salvation finds meaning.
As the Catechism states, heaven is not a place but rather a state of being. Heaven fulfills all of our deepest longings and desires. Therefore, we do not need anything more than God in heaven. Our ability to see other people and to talk with them is not the emphasis of eternal life.
It is true that the communion of saints is a real communion, circling the throne of the Blessed Trinity. In this sense, we will be able to see and have communication with others in heaven, but it is not in the same way we relate with others here on earth.
We will see in heaven the fullness of God and we will be able to recognize who is there. Our participation one day, please God, in the communion of saints is our communication with others in heaven and participation in the life of God. We will be able to recognize and communicate with others.
Here on earth, nothing can compare to eternal life. Even the most beautiful places on earth are just mere glimpses of what is to come. We should have great assurance in the awesome promise and hope that our Lord Jesus won for us on the cross. By his suffering and death, Christ unlocked heaven for us. We must make it our constant focus and goal in life to aim for spiritual perfection, to aim to be the best friend of God that we can be so as to enjoy his friendship in this life and in the life to come. Heaven may be a mystery to us, but we do know one thing: It’s where we want to be after we leave this life!
Father Glen Dmytryszyn is parochial vicar at St. John Bosco Parish in Branford.