But Jesus did not rest on this Sabbath. He had flung open the gates of heaven and was welcoming Home those who had waited in the place of the dead in a firm hope that He would bring them salvation and Life. For God says “I AM the Lord of the living, not the dead.” The saints and angels in Heaven are not dead.
Traditionally the first two people to be taken to heaven were Adam and Eve. Icons showing what is called “The Harrowing of Hell,” tend to show Christ taking the hands of Adam and Eve as they step up from their graves. The victory is vast, but not yet complete. These sould have reached their true home but are still in spirit, seperated from their bodies. Christ will show what the Resurrection, the Life in Abundance is – He will rise again so that all of us can receive him, not just spiritually, but completely, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.
There is some kind of pre-message of the bodily resurrection when many of the ‘dead’ saints of the Old Covenant, got up and walked around Jerusalem declaring the judgement of God.
When it comes to the Four Last Things, the harrowing of hell is really not part of it, as Christ didn’t go to hell as such but to Hades or Sheol as the Jews called it – the abode of the dead. This seems to have been a place other than heaven, which was closed to them, nor hell, which is for those who reject God and His commandments, nor purgatory, which is a place for heaven. It seems to have been a place of waiting. Those who were destined for heaven were then taken there.
There is still not a clear answer, that I have found, about where Elijah and Enoch are staying, who were assumed to heaven. Now, we know that Our Blessed Mother is in heaven having been assumed, so chances are that Elijah and Enoch are too. Jesus told St Bridget of Sweden that He took Elijah to paradise- which could be heaven. If anyone knows the answer let me know.
There are those who think that as Jesus died and (possibly) rose that He shut the gates of hell; that no one goes there. This is wishful thinking, and the Church has never taught this, and Jesus did not spend so much of His ministry warning about going to hell, if no one was going there.
Scripture, the words of Christ, the letters of Paul and the teaching of the Fathers, make it very clear that we “must work out our salvation in fear and trembling.” There is no Free Pass to Heaven. Every single saint in the history of the Church who has received a vision of hell has said that people are there. No one is sent there – all who go choose it. Avoid the place. Love God, turn to His Mercy.
I heard an athiest recently getting very worked up because he said God sends people to hell because they have worshipped false gods, even though they had never heard of Him. This is ridiculous of course, but he went on with even more anger about the Truth of God; that a man who has committed the foulest crimes, sitting on death row, need only be sorry and he gets to go to heaven. I was very confused by this rant – surely the fact that God forgives any sin, no matter how heinous, if we but turn to His Mercy, is a GOOD thing.
Let’s do that.
Day 2 of Divine Mercy Novena