It is an error to conclude that, in Heaven, we are going to continue with the same limitations that we have in this fallen world.
“The eye has not seen, and the ear has not heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man, what things God has prepared for those who love him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9).
St. Paul teaches us of a development of the faithful in Christ which advances according to how much we get closer to Him.
“And so, brothers, I was not able to speak to you as if to those who are spiritual, but rather as if to those who are carnal. For you are like infants in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food. For you were not yet able. And indeed, even now, you are not able; for you are still carnal.” (1 Corinthians 3:1-2).
Needless to say, a baby cannot do the things that an adult does. Compared to the Saints in Heaven who are definitely ‘spiritual’, we are still ‘infants’ in Christ, ‘carnal’. Therefore, God ‘speaks’ or communicates in a spiritual (more advanced) manner with those who are in Heaven [i]. We cannot say that we are going to continue with our same limitations of this fallen earth in Heaven. There is a progress. Infants cannot eat solid food, once people develop enough, they can.
“When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I understood like a child, I thought like a child. But when I became a man, I put aside the things of a child. Now we see through a glass darkly. But then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know, even as I am known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12-13).
In the presence of God, we shall know about ourselves even better.
That being said, even now at this stage of life, fallen people are able to receive many prayers from people around the world, not by their own capacity, but through the means of electronic devices. With today’s technology, many people are able to communicate from vast distances all at once. How much more so, but in a greater scale, souls in Heaven who communicate with God in a spiritual/face to face manner. They are able to hear the prayers from people around this world. This is done because of the benefits of being in perfect union with God.
“But you have drawn near to mount Zion, and to the city of the living God, to the heavenly Jerusalem, and to the company of many thousands of Angels, and to the Church of the first-born, those who have been inscribed in the heavens, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the just made perfect” (Hebrews 12:22-23).
The spirits of the just made perfect in Heaven are not isolated from us. Quite the contrary, the Triumphant Church is in communion with us, the Militant Church, for the Body of Christ is One. The Body of Christ cannot be separated in different parts (Romans 8:38-39) (1 Corinthians 12: 12-27).
The objection is that Saints are not Divine, they are not God, saints are not omnipresent or omniscient. Certainly, no creature is God, but in Heaven, “We shall be like God, for we shall see Him as He is.” (1 John 3:2). See also (Psalm 81 :6).
Being in Heaven is not the same as being on this fallen earth. St. Paul teaches: “while we are in the body, we are on a pilgrimage in the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:6).
“For I consider that the sufferings of this time are not worthy to be compared with that future glory which shall be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18).
“…if we have died with Him, we will also live with Him. If we suffer, we will also reign with Him…” (2 Timothy 2:11-12).
Being in Heaven is a whole different level:
“Through Christ, He has given us the greatest and most precious promises, so that by these things you may become sharers in the Divine Nature, fleeing from the corruption of that desire which is in the world.” (2 Peter 1:4).
Being shares in the Divine Nature means that, though we are not God, He allows us to be like Him, fleeing from the corruption of this world. Souls in Heaven have definitely fled from the corruption of this world. God will allow us to do things that He does (up to the extent that He finds fit), or to do things that go beyond our current capacity.
Being “like God” as sons of God (1 John 3:2) means that Saints in Heaven can also do things that God does, such as hear peoples’ prayers, even the ones of thoughts only.
The repentance of some people is in heart and mind only. Yet our Lord said: “there will be so much more joy in Heaven over one sinner repenting, than over the ninety-nine just, who do not need to repent.” (Luke 15:7). Jesus did not say “there will be so much joy in God”, but “in Heaven”. Therefore, everyone in Heaven, Angels and Saints, rejoice over the repentance of a person. How do they know when a person repents in his heart and mind? – because they are sharers in the Divine Nature. In Heaven, they join the Eternity of God.
Now, Heaven is a created thing (Genesis 1:1) so it can have its own form of space and time (John 14:2) unknown to us. However, Eternity is not created for God IS Eternity (Isaiah 40:28). In Eternity (God), there are no limitations of space; therefore, Angels and Saints can know our thoughts. In Eternity (God), there is no timeline of a past, present, and future; therefore, they also know our future with absolute certainty. What is future to us, they already know it. Sharing in the Divine Nature also means that Angels and Saints are not limited to time and space because God is Eternity. When a person goes to Heaven, that person, though always a limited creature, leaves this realm of our space and time by joining Eternity (perfect union with God).
“The free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
In Hebrews we read: “Furthermore, since we also have so great a cloud of witnesses over us, let us set aside every burden and sin which may surround us, and advance, through patience, to the struggle offered to us.” (Hebrews 12:1).
We are taught to set aside every sin, and that must include sins of heart and mind because there are sins of mind and heart only (Matthew 5:28). So, let us set aside every sin since we also have a “great cloud of witnesses”. “Cloud” refers to the spiritual, souls in Heaven “over us” or “surrounded by”. The witnesses are in reference to those who have attained perfection in God, thus in Heaven (Hebrews 11:16) (11:40) [ii]. And how can any of those be a witness of someone’s sin of mind and heart if they are not able to know it? – it is because God permits souls in Heaven to know our minds and hearts as well. That’s also the reason why, as explained above, Heaven rejoices over a sinner repenting.
This is the reason why Angels and Saints can answer so many petitions of our past, present and future, our petitions of our hearts and minds, without the limitations of our time and space. They have the Beatific Vision of God, they are in perfect union with Him in one Spirit. God knows all and permits the Saints, through His Spirit, to know our needs. This perfect union with God is beyond our time and place. So it’s not like they are overwhelmed with many prayers or have a “to do list”.
Angels and Saints are limited creatures in Heaven, but petitions or prayers, people, or situations in the world are also limited. No matter how overwhelming their number is, it is still limited. So, it’s not that they are handling something eternal. But they handle it in the Eternity of God.
St. Paul also teaches: “For the Spirit Himself renders testimony to our spirit that we are the sons of God. But if we are sons, then we are also heirs: certainly heirs of God, but also co-heirs with Christ, yet in such a way that, if we suffer with him, we shall also be glorified with Him.” (Romans 8:16-17).
Saints in Heaven are glorified with Jesus, this means that their limited capabilities are greatly increased.
“How could the ministration of the Spirit not be in greater glory?” (2 Corinthians 3:8).
“It is not as though I have already received this, or were already perfect. But rather I pursue, so that by some means I might attain, that in which I have already been attained by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12).
In this world we are not already perfect due to our fallen nature, but once in Heaven, we become perfectly united with God, a perfection attained for us by Christ.
“When He arrives to be glorified in His saints, and to become a wonder in all those who have believed, in that day, because our testimony has been believed by you.” (2 Thessalonians 1:10).
God wills to be glorified in the Saints who already join a perfect union with Him. “Becoming a wonder” also refers to miracles. God also performs miracles by means of His Saints in Heaven “For in Him, the whole Body is joined closely together, by every underlying joint, through the function allotted to each part, bringing improvement to the Body, toward its edification in charity” (Ephesians 4:16). See also (2 Kings 13:20-21) (1 Corinthians 12:12-27).
What about the different languages of people? How can Angels and Saints understand different languages? – Diversity of our spoken languages was caused because of the selfishness of people wanting to do their own will apart from God (Genesis 11:1-9) thus causing separation among ourselves. However, the Spirit of God unites us so we can understand each other. At Pentecost the Apostles received the gift from God to be able to speak in the particular languages of all the people present there (Acts 2:4) (2:8). Therefore, it is God, who is Omniscient, who gives the gift of knowledge, up to the point that He wishes, to those whom He wishes.
Furthermore, St. Peter received the gift of knowing hearts (Acts 5:1-4) (5:7-11). God cannot be fooled or deceived, yet Ananias and Sapphira could not deceive Peter. It is not because Peter is “God”, rather, in union with God, he had the gift of knowledge. He was able to read hearts. Also, St. Paul, through a vision, had the knowledge of a certain man from Macedonia pleading with him (Acts 16:9-10). Paul could not possibly know of such man from another place pleading with him if it’s not by God’s supernatural communication. God also communicated with St. Philip in a spiritual way (Acts 8:29) and gave him the gift to appear from one place to another (Acts 8:39-40), thus not having space and time as an impediment or limitation. If God gave the gift of knowledge to His Apostles and chosen persons on earth, how much more to the people who are in perfect union with Him in Heaven. God wills this particular gift of knowledge for those who are in perfect union with Him for they are spiritual (not carnal as explained above) [iii].
In Heaven, souls are in a state of sanctifying grace, and are filled with all virtues. They fully cooperate with all graces. Since they know God directly and are full of grace, they are necessarily united to God in love. The Beatific Vision of God accompanies the Beatific Union with God. The Beatific Vision applies to the intellect. The beatific Union applies to the will. With our intellect and free will, we know and love God in Heaven.
When a person goes to Heaven, such person has greater capability than us here on earth who do not have this perfect union with God. As explained above, in Heaven, souls are beyond of our time and space, they are in perfect union with God. “..when the perfect arrives, the imperfect passes away” (1 Cor 13:10). In other words, while we remain here on earth, we are still “imperfect” (we have God’s presence to a limited extent, in our souls by sanctifying grace as compared to those who are in Heaven).
In the book of Revelation we read that “Elders” and “Angels” have the prayers of God’s people (Revelation 5:8) (8:3-4). In the timeless of Eternity, the Virgin Mary, the Angels and Saints are beyond time and space, they have “all the time” or the capability to respond each and every one of our petitions.
In conclusion, when a soul enters Heaven, leaves the reality of this fallen world and is in perfect union with God sharing in His Divine Nature, thus glorified in Him, such perfected/enlightened soul is able to hear and answer our prayers from the timeless and spaceless of Eternity.
Bible verses were taken from the CPDV.
[i] It is clear throughout Sacred Scripture that God has communicated with His prophets in a direct/supernatural manner, starting with Adam and Eve, Abraham, Moses, and many more. In the NT God has revealed things and communicated with His people in a supernatural manner (Acts 8:29) (Acts 9:10 ff). This type of communication with God and His people is perfected in Heaven.
[ii] See also (Hebrews 2:10; 5:9; 7:28; 10:14; 10:19; 11:4 ff) (1 Corinthians 13:10) (1 Peter 3:19-22).
[iii] St. Faustina Kowalska experienced a supernatural union with God, see her Diary # 911 (Notebook II). She also stated: “… my mind is clear and penetrated with light. When I’m united to Him, I faint from an abundance of happiness, but my mind is bright and clear from all shadows“. (Diary # 912).