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The four last things.  Do you ever think about your death?  Are you afraid of the coming judgment?  Do you ponder heaven and fear hell?

Fr. Tim Grumbach joins Trending with Timmerie to discuss the four last things.  They’ll pull from the works of St. Alphonsus Liguori & the Catechism of the Catholic Church (paragraph 1005-1041).


Listen to more episodes at

Booking Timmerie to speak in 2020




Originally broadcast on 1/4/20


Comprehending the concept of heaven is seriously challenging for Catholic adults. Explaining heaven to our children can be even more difficult. 

Catholic parents and grandparents must first understand the developmental stages of their children, their capacity to understand, and their desire for information, advises the Diocese of Orange’s Katie Dawson, director of Parish Faith Formation. 

“Young children intuitively know there’s more to life than the material world,” Dawson explains. “They know they come from somewhere. They understand God as a mysterious presence who loves them. 

“Explaining heaven can begin, then, even with the youngest children.” 

Of course, Dawson notes, conversations about heaven should be guided by the child’s questions. “Children under age 9 cannot grasp the idea of death, to understand that the people they know or that they themselves can die,” she says. “After that they have a sense of death and that’s the point at which they will ask questions about heaven.” 

When someone they love dies, she adds, parents want to offer comfort. Sharing information about the afterlife can provide solace.  

“It’s important that we don’t give them more information than they need,” Dawson warns. “They need a thimbleful of information – not a firehose. If a child starts to ask about what happens after death, that’s a great opportunity to talk about heaven.  

“We should give them the truth [about what happens to our bodies when we die] and then share the idea that we are more than just a body. As people with souls, when we die our souls return to God. We call that heaven.” 

Often, scriptures or picture books can plant lasting images in children’s minds. Dawson remembers when her 11-year-old son came home from sixth grade complaining that he didn’t want to go to heaven when he died because it sounded boring. “He was in that transition from concrete to abstract thinking,” she recalls. “Heaven as a bunch of clouds in the sky sounded dull to him.” 

His declaration offered the opportunity for a discussion about what heaven means, she notes. 

Catholic parents can keep conversations about God, the things of God, and heaven going among family members, she recommends. “The best thing is if there’s an ongoing conversation about life with God in the family,” she says. “This is where it’s important to build the practice of praying together, reading good books that provide spiritual input and creating a strong foundation.” 

As parents we must set strong and lasting examples of faith for our children. Then, she notes, “If we turn to the Holy Spirit to see what kind of conversations our children need, how to address and anticipate their needs, then we lay the foundation for our children to share their feelings with us.” 

From the earliest ages, cuddling up with our toddlers to share picture books about Jesus, heaven, and the saints means our children will long associate warm and cozy feelings with their Catholic faith.  

In Dawson’s case, “My Little Golden Book About God,” is where she got her first impressions of God. 

“I was probably 4 years old when it was first read to me, and I think my whole life I’ve thought that’s exactly who God is,” she says. “God is to be trusted even when bad things happen. We build on that foundation and then we pray like crazy that we can keep the conversations going with our children.”   



Host Deacon Steve Greco interviews guests on a variety of topics. On this week’s program, we bring you the second of three-part “best of” series from our program. This show features an interview with our good friend and scholar, Fr. Felix Just.

With reference to the program title, it’s safe to say that this is one of the most requested shows we’ve ever produced.

Listen in.. and may your faith be strengthened!







Originally broadcast on 7/15/18


VATICAN CITY (CNS) — As they journey through life, Christians must look for Christ, especially among the poor, and give concrete signs of hope to others, Pope Francis said.

The ascension of Christ ushered in a “new form of Jesus’ presence among us,” he said in his “Regina Coeli” address to those gathered in St. Peter’s Square May 13, the day the feast of the Ascension was celebrated in Italy and many other countries.

The feast day comes 40 days after Easter and commemorates Jesus’ ascension into heaven. But some countries, like Italy, observe the feast day the following Sunday.

Pope Francis said the Ascension invites Christians to look to heaven, where Jesus was raised up in glory, and to look back down on earth to share and spread the good news and hope of salvation.

The feast marks the start of the church’s mission, because the risen and ascended Christ sent his disciples out to spread the Gospel to the whole world, the pope said. 

“The task Jesus entrusts to a small group of men who are simple and without great intellectual abilities truly seems too audacious,” he said. “And yet, this tiny band of people — irrelevant before the great powers of the world — is sent to bring the message of love and mercy of Jesus to every corner of the earth.”

That same mission Jesus entrusted to his apostles with the support of the Holy Spirit continues today and requires the help of everyone, Pope Francis said.

Christians are asked to be “men and women of the Ascension, that is, seekers of Christ along the pathways of our times, bringing his word of salvation to the ends of the earth,” he said. “On this route we encounter Christ himself” in others, especially those who are suffering “old and new” forms of poverty.

Christ invites everyone, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to offer “concrete and visible signs of hope” because Jesus has given them hope. 

After leading the “Regina Coeli” prayer, the pope also appealed for reconciliation and harmony in Indonesia and prayed for the nation’s people, particularly the Christian communities in the city of Surabaya.

Three suicide attacks there May 13 targeted a Catholic parish and two other Christian churches, leaving at least 14 people dead and more than 40 people injured. Police reported that the bombers were a family of six — a mother and father, two daughters, 9 and 12, and two sons, 16 and 18. It said they were linked to local extremist network that supports the Islamic State group.

The pope said he was praying for all those affected by the “serious attack against places of worship” and for the violence to stop. He asked that “everyone find room in their heart for feelings — not of hatred and violence — but of reconciliation and fraternity.”


VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Heaven is not an eternally dull existence but rather the completion of a journey toward a promised encounter with the Lord, Pope Francis said.

Although Christians may know full well that their goal is to go to heaven, “we begin to slip” when asked, “What is heaven,” the pope said in his homily April 27 during Mass at Domus Sanctae Marthae.

“Many times, we think of an abstract heaven, a faraway heaven, a heaven that we say ‘yes, its fine.’ But some may think: ‘Isn’t it a little boring being there for all eternity?’ No, that is not heaven,” he said.

Pope Francis’ homily focused on the day’s first reading from the Acts of the Apostle, in which St. Paul proclaims “that what God promised our fathers he has brought to fulfillment” through Jesus’ resurrection.

Trusting God to fulfill his promises, he said, puts Christians on a path “toward an encounter, the definitive encounter with Jesus. Heaven is the encounter with Jesus.”

Pope Francis said that during this journey, Jesus “isn’t sitting there waiting for me but, as the Gospel says, he works for us. He himself said, ‘Have faith in me’ and ‘I will prepare a place for you.'”

Jesus prays for all who embark on this path toward heaven. However, the pope said, Christians must continue to remind themselves that “he is faithful” and that he will fulfill his promise.

“Heaven will be that encounter, an encounter with the Lord who has gone there to prepare the place, the encounter with each one of us. And this gives us confidence; it makes trust grow,” he said.

“May the Lord give us this awareness of being on a journey with this promise. May the Lord give us this grace: to look up and think: ‘The Lord is praying for me,'” Pope Francis said.



ROME (CNS) — After circling a massive, crumbling public housing complex on the outskirts of Rome, Pope Francis had an emotional encounter with the neighborhood’s children.

Question-and-answer sessions with youngsters are a standard part of Pope Francis’ parish visits. And, at St. Paul of the Cross parish April 15, there were the usual questions like, “How did you feel when you were elected pope?”

But then it was Emanuele’s turn. The young boy smiled at the pope as he approached the microphone. But then froze. “I can’t do it,” Emanuele said.

Msgr. Leonardo Sapienza, a papal aide, encouraged the boy, but he kept saying, “I can’t.”

“Come, come to me, Emanuele,” the pope said. “Come and whisper it in my ear.”

Msgr. Sapienza helped the boy up to the platform where the pope was seated. Emanuele was sobbing by that point, and Pope Francis enveloped him in a big embrace, patting his head and speaking softly to him.

With their heads touching, the pope and the boy spoke privately to each other before Emanuele returned to his seat.

“If only we could all cry like Emanuele when we have an ache in our hearts like he has,” the pope told the children. “He was crying for his father and had the courage to do it in front of us because in his heart there is love for his father.”

Pope Francis said he had asked Emanuele if he could share the boy’s question and the boy agreed. “‘A little while ago my father passed away. He was a nonbeliever, but he had all four of his children baptized. He was a good man. Is dad in heaven?'”

“How beautiful to hear a son say of his father, ‘He was good,'” the pope told the children. “And what a beautiful witness of a son who inherited the strength of his father, who had the courage to cry in front of all of us. If that man was able to make his children like that, then it’s true, he was a good man. He was a good man.

“That man did not have the gift of faith, he wasn’t a believer, but he had his children baptized. He had a good heart,” Pope Francis said.

“God is the one who says who goes to heaven,” the pope explained.

The next step in answering Emanuele’s question, he said, would be to think about what God is like and, especially, what kind of heart God has. “What do you think? A father’s heart. God has a dad’s heart. And with a dad who was not a believer, but who baptized his children and gave them that bravura, do you think God would be able to leave him far from himself?”

“Does God abandon his children?” the pope asked. “Does God abandon his children when they are good?”

The children shouted, “No.”

“There, Emanuele, that is the answer,” the pope told the boy. “God surely was proud of your father, because it is easier as a believer to baptize your children than to baptize them when you are not a believer. Surely this pleased God very much.”

Pope Francis encouraged Emanuele to “talk to your dad; pray to your dad.”

Earlier, a young girl named Carlotta also asked the pope a delicate question: “When we are baptized, we become children of God. People who aren’t baptized, are they not children of God?”

“What does your heart tell you?” the pope asked Carlotta. She said, they are, too.

“Right, and I’ll explain,” the pope told her. “We are all children of God. Everyone. Everyone.”

The nonbaptized, members of other religions, those who worship idols, “even the mafiosi,” who terrorize the neighborhood around the parish, are children of God, though “they prefer to behave like children of the devil,” he said.

“God created everyone, loves everyone and put in everyone’s heart a conscience so they would recognize what is good and distinguish it from what is bad,” the pope said.

The difference, he said, is that “when you were baptized, the Holy Spirit entered into that conscience and reinforced your belonging to God and, in that sense, you became more of a daughter of God because you’re a child of God like everyone, but with the strength of the Holy Spirit.”


On today’s much anticipated episode, Deacon Steve Greco welcomes Fr. Felix Just back to the studio. Fr. Felix is, among other things, a renowned biblical scholar. We have no doubt that today’s topic is sure to bring about a great deal of discussion.. the teaching of the Catholic Church in regards to heaven, hell and purgatory.

Listen in, and encourage others to do the same!






Originally broadcast on 11/05/17


It’s been hot outside. Some would say it’s been hot as hell. But how do we know hell is hot? And where, exactly, is hell anyway? I was curious what Fr. Felix Just, S.J., Ph.D., and executive director of the Loyola Institute for Spirituality, had to say about the subject so I attended the July 10 Backyard Theology meeting at Santiago de Compostela, along with about 80 other people. The subject of the evening: “Heaven, Hell and Purgatory.” Who doesn’t want to understand more about these three places? And that was my first misconception. Fr. Just says they are not places.

In what was the first of four theology meetings held on Mondays in July, Fr. Just explained the Catholic Church’s teachings on the subject and answered questions from the audience.

Fr. Just shared the various views of heaven and earth ¬– from the Hebrew view of the universe to the Ptolemaic system to Copernicus’s view. Fr. Just said of heaven and hell, “They cannot be places.”

“Heaven is where God is,” he said, noting the Catechism of the Catholic Church’s glossary of terms that describes heaven as: “Eternal life with God; communion of life and love with the Trinity and all the blessed. Heaven is a state of supreme and definitive happiness, the goal of the deepest longings of humanity.”

Hell on the other hand, it should be concluded, is anywhere there is the absence of God. Fr. Just again noted the glossary of terms’ definition of hell. It is: “The state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed, reserved for those who refuse by their own free choice to believe and be converted from sin, even to the end of their lives.”

The word “purgatory,” he added, isn’t mentioned anywhere in the Bible. He did explain it as a period of purification that isn’t bound by the limits of time.

Fr. Just urged attendees to think of heaven and hell less in “location” terminology and more as a state of being, adding: “Our vision of heaven, hell and purgatory is more influenced by Dante and other writers than it is by the Bible.”

My vision of heaven has always been my grandmother’s dining room. It is filled with all those loved ones who have already passed on from this life. There is food. There is laughter. There is love and warmth and contentment.

Among the last of those to ask a question during the evening’s Q&A, I asked: “Will we see our loved ones in heaven?” Fr. Just, who shared that he lost both his parents last year, replied that if heaven is a definitive state of happiness, then our loved ones should be there.

I’m holding on to that.


Most Catholic scholars understand heaven to be a physical place, but one so beyond the earthly and mundane that it escapes our understanding.

“It’s a real place, sure, but it’s not like we can point to it on a map,” says Pia de Solenni, an associate dean at the satellite campus of the Augustine Institute at Christ Cathedral in Garden Grove. The Augustine Institute is a theology graduate school and provider of faith-formation programs headquartered in Denver, Colo.

And heaven is also a place where Catholics can realize the hope of experiencing a real encounter with God, de Solenni says.

“As C.S. Lewis put it, ‘Christians never say goodbye,’ and that’s because of the hope we all share of going to heaven and being reunited with those we love, as well as fellow Christians, for all eternity,” de Solenni says.

Lisa Miller, writing for Newsweek in 2010 and author of the book “Heaven: Our Enduring Fascination With the Afterlife,” argues that heaven is not a physical place, or even “a process or a supernatural event,” but rather “something that happens in your brain as you die” — a chemical neurological event.

Such a bleak concept, of course, has no place in Catholicism, but there’s debate among Catholic scholars about the nature of heaven — is it an actual physical place, or a state of mind?

Writing in 2015 on, Tim Staples, director of Apologetics and Evangelization at Catholic Answers, posits that heaven is more a state of being than an actual place.

“The Church teaches heaven to be primarily a state rather than a place,” Staples writes. “You can’t travel ‘up there’ to heaven.”

Staples writes about the “beatific vision” of seeing God “face to face” in heaven — a concept, he notes, that is at the heart of “infallible” Church teaching as given by Pope Benedict XII in his Apostolic Constitution, “Benedictus Deus,” of Jan. 29, 1336:

“According to the general disposition of God, the souls of all the saints … and other faithful who died after receiving Christ’s holy Baptism … have been, are and will be in heaven, in the heavenly Kingdom and celestial paradise with Christ, joined to the company of the holy angels. Since the Passion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ, these souls have seen and do see the divine essence with an intuitive vision, and even face to face, without the mediation of any creature.”

The blessed, Staples writes, “will be in a state of comprehension of God that is constant. They can’t leave heaven and then go back to heaven precisely because heaven is principally a state of being.”

De Solenni cites section 326 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church when it comes to the concept of heaven:

“The Scriptural expression ‘heaven and earth’ means all that exists, creation in its entirety. It also indicates the bond, deep within creation, that both unites heaven and earth and distinguishes the one from the other: ‘the earth’ is the world of men, while ‘heaven’ or ‘the heavens’ can designate both the firmament and God’s own ‘place’ – ‘our Father in heaven’ and consequently the ‘heaven’ too which is eschatological glory. Finally, ‘heaven’ refers to the saints and the ‘place’ of the spiritual creatures, the angels, who surround God.”

De Solenni believes that while on Earth we glimpse a sense of its essence in the simplest of pleasures, from an inspiring walk down a gorgeous mountain trail, for instance, to a glass of a favorite wine or a bite of a favorite food, not to mention time spent with loved ones.

“We look at these things and encounters that give us great pleasure and I believe these are mere hints of the extreme peace and joy that awaits us in heaven,” De Solenni says.

Staples, in his 2015 column, cites several Bible passages that allude to heaven, such as I Cor. 2:9 (“Eye has not seen, ear has not heard” of what heaven is like), and I Tim. 6, which discusses how man cannot see God in any sense with his natural powers, but the saints and all of the blessed can be said to have “seen,” Him, and that they do “see” the divine essence with a directly intuited, intellectual vision.

Okay, fine — so what is heaven?

“Heaven is principally a state of utter and absolute fulfillment,” Staples concludes. “In the possession of God in the beatific vision, the blessed will experience what cannot be put into words; a radical union with God that transcends anything we could envisage.”

Whatever heaven really is like, De Solenni suggests considering its opposite — hell — and never being complacent about spending eternity in darkness and misery.

“The devil would love nothing more,” she says, “than to make us believe that hell doesn’t exist.”



Before Fr. Troy Schneider formally excuses children from church, the parochial vicar at Holy Family Cathedral in Orange, often invites “all the little saintlings” to come forward.

“It is that idea of letting them know that they are called to be saints too, and so are all of us,” Schneider says. “We are all saints in the making, so to speak. We are called to be holy.”

A lot of people refer to saints as Catholic heroes, people who are able to do great things out of the love of God. Some were martyrs who died for their faith, including St. Peter and St. Andrew, who were crucified, or St. Stephen, who was stoned to death. St. Agnes was beheaded for wanting to commit herself to God rather than marrying a suitor.

Hearing these stories, some may think that saints and sainthood are ideals that are out of their reach, but the presence of saints shows that the extraordinary spiritual feats of ordinary people are attainable.

“It is possible,” Fr. Schneider says. “We can all do this. It’s not just for certain people. Each and every one of us is called to this.”

It is perhaps why so many Catholics have a kinship with saints and often seek their intercession.

“They started out just like us,” Schneider says. “We have seen them come from the muck and the mire, so to speak, and rise above that through the cooperation of God’s grace, that in the midst of some situations and awful circumstances, they rose above that and still saw the joy in the gospel. They were ultimately called, knowing that their goal was eternal life with God.”

The concept of saints is rooted in scripture, says Schneider, who studied early church history at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium.

In St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, Paul writes that they are called to be saints: “To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours.” (1 Corinthians, 1:2)

Historically, honoring saints dates back to as early as 100 A.D., when believers began remembering other Christians who died and were asking for their aid, according to

Today, there are more than 10,000 saints recognized by the church. The Catholic Church follows a very formal process for determining sainthood in which the holiness of a candidate, only considered many years after his or her death, is discussed and debated by theologians before the designation is formally bestowed by the pope.

“Why we revere the saints in our church comes from the fact that they are people who have opened themselves up so completely and totally to the workings of the Holy Spirit,” Schneider says. “They have become holy. They have become who God created them to be.”

The role that saints serve in the church is complementary to our relationship with the Holy Trinity, he says.

“The living active exemplification of God’s love is the Holy Spirit,” Schneider says. “When a saint is there, ultimately we revere them as someone who has fulfilled their baptismal call in the way they had expressed their love of God. They made it tangible for us as human beings to witness the love of God, to have some glimpse of what God’s love is in the world.”

While Catholics revere saints, they do not worship them.

“We don’t pray to saints,” Schneider says. “We pray with saints and we ask for their prayers, just like we would when we are having a difficult time and we ask family members and others to pray for us. We are not alone. We are part of a whole community of faith. Just because saints have passed on, they have not left us. We are still united, maybe not physically, but spiritually.”

Asking for their prayers not only shows us how we cooperate together as a community of faith but it unites us with God, Schneider says.

“In a way, when we pray together for each other we are mimicking the relationship of the three persons in the Blessed Trinity and we are united in love as one God,” he says. “They don’t point to themselves; they point to Christ. They live their lives not so that they can be worshiped, but so that they can say, ‘See, when you let God work through you, amazing things can happen.’ And that is the life of the saints. It is that humility that it is not them. It is God.”

To become holy means becoming who God created you to be fully, reaching the end goal to be a saint, Schneider says.

“Each one of us is called to live a sacramental life,” he says. “That means to be filled with the Holy Spirit, cooperating with the Holy Spirit, uniting the will of God, to be a living symbol of God’s love in the world.”