I’m not one of those twelve million readers who bought the book Heaven is For Real and torpedoed it to the New York Times\’ Bestseller List. But I did check it out from the library and enjoyed both the story and the accounts of heaven. “Heaven is for real” is, in fact, only one among the many testimonies of near death experiences I’ve heard about from both Christians and non-Christians. With some suspect exceptions, most of the descriptions of heaven are fascinating and inspire me to work hard to aim for the ultimate prize. But that’s just the good news.
On the flip side, I’ve come across near death testimonies of Catholics about the reality of sin and the judgment we face when we die with mortal sin. These testimonies impacted my life more than Todd and Colton Burpo’s story. I list them below, not with the intention of convincing you, or debating with you on the truth or falsity of the testimonies. I offer the perspective of Catholics who have had a similar near death experience, because they helped me understand that since we have been given so much through the Church, more will be expected of us on our particular judgment.
Heaven is real, and from what I’ve heard it’s astounding. But in order to get there, we are also challenged to sanctify our souls and get an ego check in this life.
1. Fr. Steven Sheiers was interviewed by Mother Angelica on his near death experience. After dying in a car accident, he returned to life and testified that he heard a conversation between Jesus and his mother. Fr. Scheiers was judged not worthy to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, because he had been a priest for himself . However, Our Lady interceded on his behalf. She requested that he be given more years on earth and more graces to remedy his life. In the end, Jesus told Mary, “Mother, he’s all yours.” The video is available on YouTube.
2. Gloria Polo was a Catholic dentist living in Columbia when she was struck and burned by lightning. During her injury, she was placed on the judgment seat, so to speak, and given insights on how the choices of her life almost led her to the abyss. Her book details how Divine Justice views chastity, purity, contraception and abortion among other moral issues. Dr. Polo struggled with materialism, a critical attitude and indifference to motherhood, but after her full recovery, she transformed her life. Her testimony is also available on YouTube. She has a free book online and an e-book Standing before God: The Judgment is for sale on Amazon.
3. Marino Restrepo was a Hollywood actor who was kidnapped by the rebels of the FARC (Revolutionary Arm Forces of Columbia) and held captive for six months. During his ordeal, Marino testifies to a mystical experience similar to a near death experience where he faced Jesus unworthily with all his sins of impurity, selfishness, and new age beliefs. He was also given a life review where he was showed how a brief compassionate act in his childhood meant the world to Jesus. After Mr. Restrepo’s release, he immediately went to Confession, returned to the Catholic Church and reformed his life. He has spoken to bishops and dioceses on invitation and his testimony is available on YouTube. Mr. Restrepo’s book From Darkness into the Light is on Amazon.
If you liked Heaven is for Real, you will learn more from these Catholic witnesses. The links to the suggested videos and books mentioned are available on my blog.
© 2014. Anabelle Hazard. All rights reserved.
Photography: See our Photographers page.