On earth God surrounds us.
Few of us get to see Him, but we can encounter Him in the Mass each day. He comes to us to increase our grace and thus our eternal standing in the next life, but also so that He can fulfil His desire to be among men, and this is very great.. Descriptions of Hell are plentiful for those who seek them. Heaven is not so well known. Those saints who experienced Heaven in this life were unable to find language to do justice to it. And this is reasonable, because they tell us it is totally beyond the human capacity to explain its wonders.
This is an attempt to fill in gaps where possible. I have chosen to avoid references, because they are well and truly documented throughout the internet. Here are some of the changes we'll experience after the final judgement.
1 Sight. People see God directly, no matter where they are, in a special kind of sight called Beatific Vision. They still see their local environment, but are also capable of seeing anything which they wish to focus on. Anything in the universe, that is, except those places which God wills concealed.
2 The Glory of God. Seeing the Divinity is the highest activity. We see God's glory, and He sees us individually.
There is a link of sight between God and each human creature, and a pouring of grace which is constant but always new. We get to know many, but not all, of the secrets of the Blessed Trinity.
3 Love. We are loved beyond our ability to comprehend. The love is constant and personal. And we love in return. God delights in this love.
4 Earthly bodies. We keep the body we had on earth. But it is restored to perfection, at an age of about 30 (although God may wish to allow a different age, such as the age a saint was martyred).
5 Memory. We retain the memories and ideas from our earthly life. Our intellectual qualities are greatly enhanced by infusion. Hate maths on earth? You will become a whiz in Heaven.
6 Faith, hope and charity. We lose the gifts of faith and hope, as they are replaced by certainty. We retain charity.
7 Bodily functions. Eating, drinking and breathing are possible, but no longer needed for maintaining the body.
8 Death. Injury, sickness and death are no longer possible. We have total control over our feelings, and there is no possibility of offending God or of carelessness. No car or aircraft accidents.
9 Fitness. Any bodily deformities are repaired, and our bodies cannot regress. However, martyrs' wounds are retained.
10 Resemblance. Although we keep our bodily features, we take on a resemblance to Christ, with a radiance according to our state at the time of death. We retain the race we had on earth.
11 No barriers. The glorified body is not obstructed by walls or doors, but can pass through them at will.
12 Travel. The glorified body can travel instantly, at the speed of thought, to any desired location. Distance is no object.
13 No weariness. It will be impossible to get tired, bored, irritated, upset or disturbed. Every moment brings a new refreshment in thought from the Divinity. There is no complaints department in Heaven.
14 Angels. Our Guardian Angel will be our personal companion, but we shall be drafted into the nine choirs according to our suitability and grace. The difference is that we retain our bodies. The angels, who can materialise, yet have no bodies.
15 Numbers. The Church Fathers and saints tell us not to expect a majority of the human race in Heaven. The figure is more like one in a thousand. So if God decides to end the world after 10 billion babies have come into existence, it is reasonable to expect 10 million in Heaven. However, given the large but unknown number of children who die very young after baptism, that number could increase significantly.
16 Places. Some familiar places on earth will become locations of pilgrimage for us, and other places will be designated by God as pilgrim sites.
17 Light. The whole world is lit by the light of God. Shadows exist, but are minimal.
18 Housing. Those in Heaven have homes. They are different to those on earth, as they will cater to differing needs.
19 The Unbaptised. Those who die without serious sin, but without baptism of water, desire or blood, experience the greatest happiness known on earth. They can see God when He is physically present, but have no Beatific Vision. They also cannot die, experience pain, deformity, disease or difficulties of any kind. But they lack many of the characteristics of the elect.
20 Relatives. In Heaven we shall associate with our earthly families. Where family members are lost, we shall not experience sadness, but will praise God's justice.
21 Seas. Some say that the oceans will disappear underground, but there will be smaller seas and lakes, and these may be connected by waterways. It is possible that each country with a marine coastline will retain a moat.
22 Time. There is no progression of minutes, hours, days or years. Everything belongs to the immediate instant, although activities occur in series. Things happen, but these are not parcelled out according to time. They happen one after another.
These items are not complete, and may be in error in some areas, since information provided by the saints is sometimes contradictory. An example of this is where some saints have 'seen' Christ's hands pierced through the palms, and others have 'seen' them pierced through the wrists. The error does not diminish in any way the fact that Christ's hands suffered the marks of nails. But details can err.
What happens when we succeed in our quest? Here is a suggested outcome for a successful soul.
It was after midnight, and the hospital was very quiet. The priest had administered the last rites and left. One or two of the children and grandchildren were in the lounge a few metres away.
Gemma knew she was dying. She had spent her last few days putting her soul in order, and she made sure she wore a scapular. There was no more pain now. But unknown to her, this was the last night of her first life.
Although at peace, she noticed that she had stopped breathing, and her heart also was stopped. There was a noise, and nurses rushed in. She found that she could no longer see, even though her eyes were open, directed at the ceiling. She vaguely heard the commotion going on around her, but it didn't seem important. Eventually all went quiet, and she became aware that her family was around her. She could still hear everything, but all other senses were gone.
There in front of her was a bright light. She was looking at the ceiling, but she could somehow see in front of her. The light approached, and resolved into a man, a Man she knew well from the statues of Jesus in her parish church.
Without a word, He showed her in a large globe the story of her life, and how bad deeds were balanced by good. He showed her the prayers of her parents, who had gone before her, and who were waiting to welcome her to her new life.
Jesus looked at her, and she saw Him as He really is. A mountain of love broke over her, and returned to her Creator.
"Welcome, Beloved of My Heart. Come and join Me forever. You will never leave Me."
With a cry of joy, she leapt into her God's arms, and there she stayed. Time stopped, and the current of joy continued, changing yet unchanged.
There came a final judgement. Gemma rejoined her earthly body, and rose into the air, while those on the ground were judged. All their secret sins were exposed, nothing was hidden. The ground opened up, and those below sank to their eternal suffering.
Reunited with her glorified body, Gemma found herself in a beautiful home, in the place where she had lived on earth, a leafy suburb named Everton Park. Her house had two floors, with walls of translucent jade. It had a door, and a staircase, but no windows.
Here existed no time. Things happened, but in sequence, and without any period between the events. She experienced no pain, weariness, boredom or any discomfort. Without any interruption she could see directly into the eyes of God, and was never separated from the torrent of His love. Although she was alone in her house, she was never out of contact with all of the Elect.
She heard a call from outside. Not with her ears, but with her mind. Someone was calling her. To converse with anyone, all she had to do was focus and speak, although she was still quite capable of hearing ordinary sounds through her ears.
It was the same with vision. Primary vision was with God. Secondary vision enabled the Elect to focus on any part of the universe and see clearly. Tertiary vision was limited to their surroundings.
Through the walls she saw she had two visitors. Two girls, wearing green jackets and yellow robes.
"Come inside." she called. She recognised them as two of her close friends, Dymphna and Nellie. Dymphna looked about 10 or 11 years old, and Nellie about 3. They had chosen to keep the stature they had reached at their deaths on earth.
The three girls sat down in the parlour, and chatted for a minute or so, then fell silent, just happy to be together. Dymphna spoke.
"The Dear Lord has asked us to deliver a message. A feast has been scheduled, and we are all invited. It will take place as you arrive at the venue." Since time no longer existed, the feast would happen in its turn.
"Where are we to go?" asked Gemma.
"We are special guests, but you are there because you attended Mass back in the year 2015. God has declared that particular Mass a very important event. It took place in a parish in Manila, at 9 am on Sunday."
"I remember going to Mass in Manila in that year, but only once, and that was at the parish of St Eugene de Mazenod, in Caloocan, because the rest of my holiday was spent on Mindanao. Lots of people there, and my friends and I were lucky to get a seat," added Gemma.
"Your friends will be there, and you will meet many others you know," said Nellie. "There is just one instruction which the Lord would like you to follow. He asks you to come by air or by water. An airport and a ferry terminal have been provided."
Gemma understood that by this God did not intend her to use her power to travel instantly anywhere she chose, nor to pass through obstructions like walls. And she knew the reason. There were many people on earth who did not have the Beatific Vision, and the powers were used discreetly.
"All right," said Gemma. "There is a House of the Innocents in Aspley, a short distance away. I'll go there and organise transport."
After her friends had left, Gemma started out for the House, balancing the option of flying or travel by water. There were no seas or oceans. Just lakes and waterways connecting them. And each former country had a moat about a kilometre wide. So there was no difficulty in getting around by water.
She knew all the Innocents at Aspley, and in the office found an old friend, Jamie, who loved boats, and was keen on using the power of light. In an earlier life he would have dabbled in solar power, but now the light came from Christ Himself, and was much stronger.
"What have you got in something I can use to travel to the Philippines?" she asked, knowing that Jamie would love to provide a boat for her.
"At present, nothing," replied Jamie, "but I can build one for you now, if you want. There is no time here, so you will have it almost immediately."
"Would it be possible to travel by air?" she asked. "There is an airport at Caloocan, and I can fly direct."
"Sure," replied Jamie. "I have a replica of an old 2-seater aircraft from the twentieth century. Our friends in Manila have told us about the airport, so we can arrange it now. As for flying, although it looks old, this plane will pilot itself, land itself, and return you here. My friends in Manila will take care of it."
Gemma walked over to the aeroplane. It's made of wood, she thought to herself.
"I know what you are thinking," said Jamie. Nothing can happen to either of us. Nothing can go wrong. It's quite safe. It's a jet, but we have replaced the older engine with something more modern, so that you will not run out of fuel. Remember, you don't need to do anything. The plane will fly itself." Gemma smiled.
She climbed aboard, but stopped, and turned to Jesus, Who was always there.
"Dear Lord, will you come with me?"
"Yes, of course, Dear Heart." Jesus appeared instantly, next to her. Jamie called out, "Make sure you are wearing your helmets." They laughed and put on their helmets.
The aircraft taxied out to the runway beside the House. It took off, flew in no time at all, and landed next to the church in Caloocan.
"Now I must go and prepare for the feast," said Jesus, and disappeared.
Gemma walked to the church. It was tropical in style, with altar separated from the body of the church. It had wrought iron gates along the side, so that the air could flow. The church was set up separately from the altar, which now resembled a chapel
Gemma saw that the tables had place-names, and sought her name, finding herself next to her friends. As they sat down, Jesus appeared at the altar. To His right was His Blessed Mother, and on His left, St Eugene.
"I have invited you here because of a unique event which happened in 2015. There are 1 738 of you, My friends, in this church. The purpose of this feast is to commemorate the fact that all of you were able to join me in eternity. This great happening will be celebrated again and again, and we shall never get tired of reuniting and sharing our love for each other.
"After a life of hard times and sorrow, all your tears are gone. And you and your loved ones are safe with Me forever.
"You will see before you a feast, such as you never saw before. You have arrived in Heaven, but you have also become My own Heaven. Now we shall feast together.
Gemma saw before her a feast such as she never had imagined in her earlier life. Heaven was a great joy. She would never be unhappy, could never feel pain or fatigue, and she would see her God forever and ever.