Where is 'Heaven'?
Given that the Easter Event was, as I would say the Church has always proclaimed, the raising of the Crucified Body to a transformed state of bodily life, then the sixty-fourthousand dollar question is: Where is Christ's Body now?
The operative word is "now". There is no special problem after what you and I call the Last Day, and the learned call the Eschaton or eschatological End-Time.
When we say at the end of the Creed: "the resurrection of the body", we are certainly free to hold, in our own mind anyhow, that this includes the transformation of our planet, or indeed the whole material universe, into an endlessly lovely paradisal home for risen humanity to live and play in.
Such a picture of the final future is present all through the prophets and the New Testament, and would be welcome to every poet from Wordsworth onwards. It never got into our Penny Catechism, but is quite a feature of much modern teaching.
But that is not yet. Where is Our Lord's Risen Body (and for that matter Our Lady's too) now?
In the geocentric days it was all simple. There, just above the firmament, were the actual heavens where Our Risen Lord walked now and where we would be with him one day.
That notion was shattered traumatically by growing science, but fOr two centuries Church authorities refused to let the new truth be incorporated into catechetics except as a hypothesis. Theologians postponed their homework and the imagination of the faithful remained medieval, and still is.
If you ask the average priest where Christ's Risen Body is, what would he say? Perhaps: "At God's right hand" — but that remains a metaphor enshrining the still unproduced answer. Or perhaps he will say: "In heaven, and we do not know where heaven is". This is true as far as it goes, but unsatisfying. It seems that even a glorified body must be somewhere, and the mind needs at least some theory about it.
Some Catholic writer last century (could it he Faber?) briefly discussed this possibility of a temporary local heaven — "Perhaps on some star", he said. In one of my own early aid-books I mentioned this theory, and I remember that Mr. Douglas Woodruff (still happily entertaining us all at random in the journal he edited for so long) wrote me a private letter to remonstrate. Ile did not offer any positive alternative, but I saw his point and deleted the words in the next reprint.
Nevertheless the temporary problem remains. In the current theological turmoil some seek to solve it by obliterating any ultimate distinction between matter and spirit. Our Lord's Body (they seem to suggest) was transformed into sheer spirit "pure spirit" as the phrase goes.
Somehow 1 cannot go along with that — too gnostic, so to speak. Matter (however tenuous) and spirit (however low-grade) are worlds apart, except that God's creative presence is the ground of both. If the Word was made flesh, it was forever, not just a momentary prank in an otherwise well-conducted eternity.
Very diffidently indeed, let me put forward a speculation of my own; no wild guess, I hope, and maybe not very new, but founded on three considerations which the believer can regard as solidly factual: one scriptural (namely the quality of "Subtility" described in the Gospels: passing through closed doors, etc); one theological, the complete domination, in the Risen Lord, of Spirit-Soul over Body; and the third, modern research in physics which describes matter as almost infinitely divisible into ever smaller particles and energy-points and waves, or what not.
Putting these three considerations together, can we not surmise that t he imagination-problem of a local heaven, as spot-lighted by Galileo's telescope, finds the possibility of a solution through the microscope of Rutherford and his fellows?
If Christ's Risen Body is (not changed into spirit but) so controlled by his Soul that it can be, so to speak, etherealised at his will if indeed that would be, not exactly his normal, but his more usual mode of existence now; then indeed (it seems to my perhaps rather literal and matter-of-fact mentality) we should have a satisfying answer to that troublesome question of where Christ's Body is now.
It would be not merely satisfying to the scientific mind or the common imagination, but even perhaps to the more mystical and devotional types who find inspiration in the stammerings of St. Paul and his followers today who would lift up our earth-bound minds to visions of the Christus Totus, the cosmic Christ, that limitless and fathomless Heart of Jesus, of whose Fullness we have all received.
Only, I don't see how you can talk about a real "cosmic Christ" unless there is a real Christ "at his Father's right hand".