The Reward of Sainthood is Heaven. What is Heaven like?
If our aim is to be holy so as to win friendship with God and to be with him in Heaven forever; what is it going to be like there?
Heaven is both a place and a state. Many divines teach that it is somewhere beyond the stars; though one is not required to believe this; yet it has some some foundation , for Christ came down from heaven and ascended into Heaven.
Heaven is also a state of the soul, it consists in a vision of God (Matt. xviii.10) and in the peace and joy of the Holy Ghost (Rom. xiv.17); so the angels and saints do not leave Heaven when they come to our assistance.
Christ is the King of Heaven; he called Himself ‘king’ before Pilate, though He maintained that His kingdom is not of this world (John xviii. 36). He was acknowledged as king by the penitent thief: “Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom” (Luke xviii.42); in Heaven the angels worship Christ (Heb. i. 6). Heaven is our true home; on earth we are but strangers (2 Cor. V. 6).
The joys of Heaven are unspeakably great: the blessed are free form the slightest pain; they enjoy the vision of God and the friendship of all the inhabitants of Heaven; they are completely happy. St. Paul writes that “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love Him” (1 Cor. ii. 9). “This happiness may be felt, but not described” says St. Augustine. David addressed God “They shall be inebriated with the plenty of Thy house, and Thou shall make them drink of the torrent of Thy pleasure” (Ps. xxxv.9). St. Gregory said that the present life is more like death when compared to the happiness of Heaven. In Heaven, we shall enjoy the same delights as God Himself (Matt. i. 4) for we shall be made partakers of the divine nature (2 Pet. i. 4) and like to God (1 John iii. 2). We shall be transformed in Heaven like the iron in the fire. In Heaven there are many mansion (John xiv. 2); the kingdom of Heaven is likened to a banquet (Matt. viii.11; Luke xiv. 16) in which Our Lord Himself waits upon the guests (Luke xii. 37). In Heaven there is no bodily but only spiritual food (Tob. xii. 19); there is a great light (1 Tim. Vi. 16); there are heard the songs of the angels (Ps. lxxxiii. 5). The saints are robed in white (Apoc. vii. 14); they are crowned by their Lord (Wisd. v. 17); they have perfect freedom, and are set over all God’s works (Matt. xxiv. 30). The blessed are free from all suffering. They shall neither hunger nor thirst (Apoc. vii. 16); death shall be no more, nor mourning, nor sorrow (Apoc. xxi. 4); and night shall no more be (Apoc. xxii. 5). The blessed shall always see the face of God (Matt. xviii. 10); they see God as He is (1 John iii. 2) and face to face (1 Cor. xiii. 12); nor do they see God as it were in an image, but He is present to the understanding as a visible object to the eye which sees it. The blessed enjoy this vision not by any power of their own, but by a special divine operation, called the light of glory, and in consequence of this they become like to God (1 John iii. 2). This vision of God is the source of untold happiness. “The blessed” says St. Bonaventure, “rejoice more over God’s blessedness than over their own.” “If the contemplation of creation is so sweet” says St. Charles Borromeo, “how much more so must be the contemplation of the Creater!”. With increased knowledge of God comes increased love of God. The great joy of knowledge and love of God banishes all sadness. The blessed in Heaven also love one another; they are as one (John xvii. 21).
The joys of Heaven last forever. Christ says “The just will enter into everlasting life.” They Holy Ghost will be united with them forever (John xiv. 16). This joy no man can take from them (John xiv. 22). No one can snatch them from the hand of the Father (John x. 29).
The happiness of the blessed varies according to their merits. The degree of glory in Heaven depends on the amount of sanctifying grace which a man has at his death (Eccles. xi. 3).
St. Paul says that he who sows more sparingly will also reap more sparingly and he who sows in blessings shall also reap in blessings (2 Cor. ix. 6). The just see in Heaven the triune God, yet some see Him more perfectly than others according to their merits (The Council of Florence). “One is the glory of the sun (Christ), another the glory of the moon (Mary), and another the glory of the stars (the saints)” (1 Cor. xv. 41).
The degree of glory in a particular saint cannot be lessened or increased throughout eternity but Our Lord says that there is particular joy in Heaven when a sinner is converted (Luke xv. 7). The canonisation, beatification, the feast day of a saint on earth, the prayers, the Holy sacrifice and other good works which the faithful perform on earth in honour of a saint are sources of particular joy to the saint.