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Returning Home

Death and Resurrection: Week 2

Returning Home
Tuesday, November 20, 2018

I ask . . . that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You. . . . I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity. . . . Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am. . . . —John 17:20-24

At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known. —1 Corinthians 13:12

Two dear friends, Fathers Thomas Keating (1923–2018) and Joseph Boyle (1941–2018), lived many years in community at St. Benedict’s Monastery in Snowmass, Colorado, where they welcomed guests for contemplative retreats. A couple years ago, Lucette Verboven interviewed both of them. She asked Father Joseph if he expected at death to be transformed:

Yes, I expect death to be a transition. I think it is a movement into a space that is not limited by our body and our senses that are quite limited now. I like the phrase in St. Paul, that we will “see God face to face” [1 Corinthians 13:12] and we’ll relate to people and the beauty of who they are without the ego-agendas we have right now.

I see [life after death] as infinite love, as if the whole atmosphere of heaven is filled with God as a kind of vibration going through us. I think that we are going to see and know each other in God, whatever that word means. It strikes me as a homecoming, us returning home to where we come from. . . and all of our brothers and sisters are coming home as well. . . . I certainly have a very deep hope that it is a transition into an incredible related life. [1]

Similarly, Keating wrote:

Death is only a part of the process of living. If the Communion of Saints has become real for us, then every funeral is a celebration of eternal life. That is the great insight of the Mass of the Resurrection, the new funeral rite. Death is not an occasion only for sorrow, but an occasion of rejoicing that our friends or relatives have moved to a deeper level of union and that we will be with them again. [2]

We are all always connected to God and each other and every living being. Most of us just don’t realize it. Jesus prays that we could see things in their unity and wholeness.

Either we learn how to live in communion with others, or, quite simply, we’re not ready for heaven and are already in hell. We have been invited—even now, even today, even this moment—to live in the Communion of Saints, in the Presence, in the Body, in the Life of the eternal and eternally Risen Christ.

There is only One Love that will lead and carry us across when we die. If we are already at home with Love here, we will quite readily move into heaven, Love’s eternal home. Death is not a changing of worlds, as most imagine, as much as the walls of this world infinitely expanding.

[1] Thomas Keating and Joseph Boyle with Lucette Verboven, World Without End (Bloomsbury: 2017), 147-148.

[2] Thomas Keating, Fruits and Gifts of the Spirit (Lantern Books: 2007), 89.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, “Seeing Is Not Always Recognizing,” homily, May 8, 2016,; and

Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi (Franciscan Media: 2014), 206-207.

Image credit: Autumn Leaves (detail), Koan, 2018.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: As I’ve come to understand that life “composts” and “seeds” us as autumn does the earth, I’ve seen how possibility gets planted in us even in the hardest of times. —Parker Palmer
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