Humanity needs eternity; every other hope is too short for it. And it is not true that eternity robs humanity of time, impoverishes it, and makes it unimportant. On the contrary, only eternity can give man time. If a person’s death is worthless, then his life is worthless too. If man is ultimately jettisoned in death, if he becomes as so much refuse, then he is, even beforehand, one of the things that humanity can jettison and can treat as such. But if man never becomes refuse, if his value is called eternity, then this value is always his and marks his whole life.
A psychologist pointed out recently that the embezzled heaven is the crucial sickness of earth: because people forget heaven, the earth becomes empty and men become ill. If we promise paradise to later generations but only nothingness, only death, to each individual, then we have promised nothing to anyone. It comes down to this: a future that is just future and not also present has nothing to offer humanity: every day is too long to wait for it. A present that is only present and has no future has no hope. The nothingness that follows it also pollutes the present and makes it unbearable.
Only eternity can unite present and future. It always transcends the moment, is always more than we presently have, but it is not limited just to the future, it always extends even now into all our days. Those who have talked us out of our belief in heaven, or would like to talk to us out of it, have not given us the earth in exchange but have made it desolate and empty, have covered it with darkness. We must find once more the courage to believe in eternal life with all our heart. Then we shall also have the courage to love the earth and to work at building its future. Let us dare to believe once more in eternal life, to live for eternal life. We shall see how life automatically becomes richer, greater, more free and less cramped.
From: Ordinariatskorrespondenz, January 4, 1979