Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Are Heavenly-minded People No Earthly Good?

Quite often religious people are accused of being so heavenly minded, they are no earthly good. The thinking goes that people who look forward to spending eternity in peaceful joy with God in Heaven are too willing to accept unacceptable conditions here and now.

This is exactly what Karl Marx meant when he famously said that religion is the opiate of the masses. The father of atheistic Communism was complaining that people who believe in another world after this world are like drug addicts: dumb and docile and unwilling to fight to make things better. (Of course, what Marx’s philosophy produced during the last hundred years cannot in any way be described using the word “better,” unless you think pervasive poverty, widespread hopelessness, no freedom, and 100 million murder victims are good things.)

Anyway, the truth is much closer to what C.S. Lewis wrote in his terrific little book, “Mere Christianity.” Lewis said, “If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next….The Apostles themselves, who…[converted]…the Roman Empire…the…Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven.”

In U.S. history, two monumental earthly struggles—the abolition of slavery in the 19th century and the Civil Rights Movement in the 20th century—were led in large measure by clergymen who were motivated by their Christian faith.

Lewis’ summary of this topic is prophetic for our day and age. He wrote, “It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this [world].” 

Modern Christians, including and especially Catholics in the U.S., have assimilated so successfully into the secular culture, our religious beliefs no longer set us apart from the crowd. How else could it be that a majority of Catholics consistently vote for fanatically pro-abortion politicians? The answer is simple. We no longer think about Heaven. We no longer think about the fact that somebody is going to have to answer someday for all that spilled blood. We shrug at the murder of innocent babies because we either think short-term economic issues are more important, or we think being called a religious fanatic by some has-been atheist celebrity is the worst thing that could ever happen to us.

Boy, talk about having your priorities screwed up.

It’s time we started thinking more about Heaven. After all, that is where we (hopefully) will spend eternity. And the last time I checked, eight-hundred-bazillion-jillion-infinity years in Heaven is a much longer period of time than a mere 60, 80, or even 100 years here on earth.

If we become more “heavenly minded,” we won’t become, as they say, “no earthly good.” If anything, we’ll become much more earthly good, and less likely to accept the unacceptable here in this world. The reason is simple: even though our eventual goal is Heaven, when we remember that God created this world and that He loves each and every person here, we will work even harder for truth and justice.

So, if our minds are more occupied with Heaven, we’ll live our lives focused on the Lord, which makes us more reverent toward His amazing creations here. We’ll be more respectful of nature, and we’ll love and care for other human beings.

When it comes to the correct view on this topic, C.S. Lewis had it right, while Karl Marx was completely wrong. (Lewis tops Marx on a host of other topics, including, of course, whether God exists or not. Sadly, Marx knows the right answer now, but the fire and torment of his eternal dwelling probably do not give him much opportunity to ponder it.) 

Anyway, don’t fall for that old bogus line: heavenly-minded people are the ones who make this world bearable. That’s because the object of our devotion, the Lord God, has commanded us to love Him and His amazing creation, including all the people in it.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Profanity Is Everywhere These Days

Today’s topic is profanity.

This is a very delicate subject. Well, to be honest, it is a very coarse and crude subject. But there are a couple of delicate considerations here: first, how to address the subject of profanity in a family newspaper without actually using any profanity; and second, and more importantly, how to discuss this subject without revealing whether or not I personally use profanity in my everyday speech.

As a society, we’re kind of schizophrenic about profanity. On the one hand, profanity has become so commonplace, we barely flinch when we hear it. Vulgar language is now a staple of Hollywood movies and cable TV shows. It seems most script writers these days simply program their computers to print out the F-word about five-thousand times in a row; go back and fill in a few other words here and there in between (including, of course, the S-word, the A-H-word, and the M-F-word); and voilĂ ! they’re done: a finished script ready for filming.

Even on over-the-air broadcast TV networks, profanity is rampant. As far as I can tell, there are only two words which remain off-limits: the F-word and the S-word. (I’m sick of typing “F-word” and “S-word,” so let’s just refer to them as Frank and Shirley.)

Since Frank and Shirley are the only words which cannot be uttered on broadcast TV, network executives apparently have decided to make those two words the main themes of every show. You don’t believe me? Try to find a single show which does not have sex and/or bathroom humor as the main plot line. Even “60 Minutes” is doing it. Most shows during this season discussed either the sex life of a politician, or Scott Pelley’s latest bout of constipation.

The most recent presidential election campaign was quite coarse and nasty, but do you remember George W. Bush on the campaign trail in 2000? Not realizing the microphone was on, the future president referred to a New York Times reporter as, “A major league A-H-word.” (OK, let’s call that word Aunt Harriet.) The Democrats tried to use Bush’s remark against him — as if Bill and Hillary never said anything stronger than “Gee whiz” in the White House — but Bush’s popularity actually INCREASED after the incident. To the folks in Middle America, the comment made Bush seem more like a “regular guy.” (Either that, or they agreed with Bush that certain New York Times reporters are major league Aunt Harriets.)

On the other hand, even though profanity has become very commonplace, there are still many situations where profane language is absolutely unacceptable. Some examples: in front of my mom (“I don’t care if you are 59 years old, young man, I’ll still wash your mouth out with soap!”); during a job interview (“Um, yes, I’m sure you want to be paid a Frankin’ Shirley-load of money. We’ll keep your resume on file and, uh, we’ll call you if there’s an opening”); and while teaching an 8th grade CCD class.

I know for a fact that last example is a situation where profanity is unacceptable because I still have the reprimand letter from the parish priest after I accidentally blurted out Frank in front of the whole class many years ago. In my defense, I had a very good reason for swearing while teaching a class of 8th graders: I was teaching a class of 8th graders.

Overall, I think society would be much better off and a lot more civil if everyone tried to clean up his or her language. And I’ll be the first one to give it a try. How Frankin’ hard can it be?

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Beatitude Promises Persecution

In this week’s gospel reading at Mass we hear the Beatitudes, the beginning of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. The Beatitudes (“Blessed are the poor in spirit…Blessed are the meek…Blessed are the merciful,” etc.) explain the way our hearts and minds should be if we truly wish to have a proper relationship with God. Being meek and humble and forgiving are essential; being arrogant and prideful and deceptive are bad news.

All of the Beatitudes describe a godly attitude or action and then give the resulting reward for it. All, that is, except one. The very last “Blessed are…” that Jesus offered does not deal with a particular personality trait we should strive for. It discusses what is likely to happen to us because we follow Jesus.

The last Beatitude says: “Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me….your reward will be great in heaven.”

OK, that great reward in heaven part sounds OK. But what about the first part? Insults, persecutions, false accusations? Thanks, but no thanks. I’ve already got enough troubles.
Jesus knew from the start that people who followed Him were going to rub other people the wrong way. And I’m not talking about crusaders, inquisitors, racists, chauvinists, etc. who distort the Gospel for their own selfish purposes. I’m not even talking about the knuckleheads on TV who are always begging viewers to get out their credit cards and send in another “love offering.” I’m talking about those folks who do it right: the people who successfully combine genuine love and mercy for their fellow man with an understanding that God has proclaimed a very clear definition of right and wrong.

I know all about the insults and false accusations to which Jesus referred. No, not because I’ve been on the receiving end of this kind of persecution. (You see, hanging around almost exclusively with “my own kind” and presenting my opinions from the solitude of a computer keyboard significantly cuts down the chances of confrontation and conflict.)

My understanding of this last Beatitude is based on plenty of experience from the giving end of the insults and false accusations. Way back in my hedonistic atheist days, there was nothing that would tick me off quicker than some Christian saying that God loved me and had a wonderful plan for my life. And the more sincere and humble he or she was, the angrier I’d get.

The insults and put-downs and sarcastic comments would stream out of me like Don Rickles on crack. I’d accuse them of all kinds of sinister hidden motives. They wanted to take over the country; they wanted to oppress people; they wanted my money; they wanted to keep women barefoot and pregnant; and worst of all, they wanted to IMPOSE their intolerant values on me.

But deep down what really angered me (or maybe scared me?) about those Christians was the possibility that they might be right. If they were right, if there really was a divine Being who created the world, then that meant I was not the center of the universe—or at least the center of MY universe. I could not define right and wrong for myself. I could not do whatever I wanted whenever I felt like it. It was a scenario which directly challenged my stubborn pride. My instinctive defense mechanism was anger. 

Jesus knew that many people would react angrily to the Gospel message. To accept Jesus’ teachings means we must stop worshipping ourselves and worship God instead. It’s not easy. A lot of people are going to say nasty things about us and to us. But if we can get past our stubborn pride and our desire always to be comfortable, the blessings and rewards that God showers upon us are truly amazing.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Photographs Are Out of Control

During the past few months the camera on my cell phone has been getting quite a workout. There was a wedding and reception in Europe; a couple days of sightseeing in Venice; a second wedding reception here in the U.S.; and then the annual holiday frenzy that begins on Thanksgiving and continues straight through to Christmas and New Year’s. (Maybe we should just call it one big holiday: “ThanksChristYear.”)

During this time, I conservatively estimate that I took about 17 billion photographs. But unlike most people I know, I did not post every single one of them on Facebook. (By the way, I completely quit using Facebook about six months ago. I don’t have that many friends to begin with, and after the brutal presidential election campaign, if I had been using Facebook all along, by now I’d probably have no friends. I prefer this popular observation regarding Zuckerberg’s monster: “Do you want to make money from Facebook? It’s easy. Just go to your account setting, deactivate your account, and GO TO WORK!”)

Anyway, taking all those cell phone pictures got me thinking about photography when I was a kid. No, I never had my picture taken by Mathew Brady, but thanks for asking. I’m not THAT old, although I am old enough to know who Matthew Brady was, and if you think he was a character on The Brady Bunch, then the future of this country is even more bleak than I feared. (Just do a Google search, smart-aleck.)

You may find this hard to believe, but back in the day, we did not download zillions of digital images to our computers (or upload them to the “cloud,” whatever that is). We instead used rolls of film, actual strips of plastic, coated with light-sensitive chemicals. Each roll of film typically held 24 pictures, and when you took the 24th and final picture, you had to crank the film back into its canister, remove the canister, send it off to be developed, and then wait many days to get your prints — at which time you discovered that you forgot to remove the camera’s lens cap.

Film was not exactly cheap, and neither was the developing/printing process, so families were rather frugal about snapping pictures. This probably explains why there are a total of nine photographs of me covering the timespan from my birth to my high school graduation. In contrast, young people today have at least nine photographs taken each hour of their lives — and many more if they own selfie sticks.

I don’t mind that there are only nine photos of my youth. They were spread out evenly, about one every two years, so there is a good record of my progress as I grew up, for anyone who cares about that. And here’s the key point: no one really cares about seeing photos from my youth, not even me. Although, I have to admit, that eight-year-old bucktooth grin is a classic. (As is the 22-year-old drunken grin below.)

When people today take 17 billion photographs, does anyone really care? For example, when I was in Europe, I spent more time looking at the back of my phone, repeatedly pushing the “photo” button with my thumb, than I spent looking at the sights directly with my eyes. After I downloaded all the digital images to my computer, I quickly glanced at a few of them, and then I set it aside for later. I’m not sure “later” is ever going to come. During these recent busy months, taking no more than 24 photographs would’ve been plenty.

So, I’m not sure all our modern photographic technology is worth it. Although the photo that Mathew Brady took of Abe Lincoln and me is a classic.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Holy Family Was No Picnic for St. Joseph

The Holy Family is the model for all families. The household of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph was filled with peace, serenity, and love. For 2,000 years, the Holy Family has been the shining example all families strive to emulate.

But consider this: of the three people in the Holy Family, only Joseph was a sinner. That’s right. Jesus was sinless, of course, and the Church has always taught that Mary was uniquely blessed by God to be conceived without sin (the “Immaculate Conception”). Which means, when you boil it down, in that peaceful and loving household, only Joseph fit the biblical truth that “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
Wow! Talk about pressure! Anytime anything went wrong in that house, two sets of sinless eyes immediately turned and looked at the only family member who was not morally perfect. Poor ol’ Joseph must have struggled to maintain his self-esteem.

Early in their marriage, I wonder if Joseph, like all husbands throughout history, often blurted out the phrase, “I didn’t do it.” For men, that phrase is an instinctive defense mechanism, as involuntary as flinching when someone suddenly tosses something toward your face. When we husbands say, “I didn’t do it,” we are not actually declaring, “I. Did. Not. Do. It.” We are merely stalling for time so we can assess the situation and find out if we’re really in trouble or not.

After a few years, I wonder if Joseph realized the futility of offering that phrase time after time, and just resigned himself to saying with a sigh, “Yeah, I did it. I’m sorry.”

Well, maybe that wasn’t exactly how it happened. Maybe I’m just imagining what it would’ve been like if I was Saint Joseph. However, since the Bible clearly tells us that Joseph was a righteous man, let’s just say all of Christendom is a lot better off that God did not pick someone to be the husband of Mary and step-father of Jesus who spends way too much time hiding in a basement “man cave” watching baseball.

Since Joseph was indeed a righteous man, the occasions when he did do something morally suspect were few and far between. (And by “morally suspect,” I don’t mean the kind of sins that are rampant in our culture today. I’m thinking of things like gossip, discouragement, and mildly profane utterances whenever he hit himself on the thumb with a hammer. You know, what we now call venial sins.)

On the other hand, since Joseph was righteous, whenever he did do something wrong, he most likely admitted it right away and asked for forgiveness. And who better to ask forgiveness from than the two most merciful people in the history of the world? Can you imagine what it must’ve been like to have the Blessed Virgin Mary and/or Jesus say to you, “That’s OK. I forgive you. C’mere, big guy, gimme a hug!”? That must have been awesome. If I were Joseph, I’d be tempted to do things wrong on purpose, just to experience that unconditional forgiveness. (Yet another reason why God was so wise in not picking me for that job.)

Actually, even though we are not a part of the Holy Family, we can experience the same kind of unconditional forgiveness and love Joseph experienced. All we need to do is go to Confession. (Also known as the Sacrament of Reconciliation.) After all, we’re not asking the priest to forgive us. He merely sits in place of Jesus, the One who pours out His unconditional and total mercy on us.

The best way we can emulate the Holy Family is to do what Jesus, Mary, and Joseph did: share the love and mercy of God with each other. We won’t ever become sinless on this side of eternity, but we will be filled with peace and serenity and joy.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Mr. Fancy Pants

After making a one-hour presentation for a group of engineers, I was chatting informally with one of the attendees, when he whispered to me, “Bill, you’ve got a little hole right, um, right there on your pants.” He discreetly pointed toward my groin. Sure enough, the seam of my pants was split just below the zipper. Wow, that’s embarrassing.

What’s even worse, the pants were practically brand new. I only owned them for about two months, and had worn them to work maybe five times. So, you’d think I’d be pretty upset and proceed to do the following: 1. Return to the store in a rage, 2. Demand my money back, plus extra cash for pain and suffering, and 3. Write a column about it.

Well, it turns out only one out of those three things occurred. Or more accurately, the third thing is occurring at this moment as I type, and I hope a complete column will be the result.

You see, I purchased the pants on sale at a big box store for $14. Now, it’s not that I’m a cheapskate (OK yeah, I am, a little). It’s just that I like a bargain, and more importantly, on any given day at work I could be doing a presentation for a group of engineers in a corporate conference room, or I could be climbing on the roof of a building inspecting air conditioning equipment. Just brushing up against a section of metal ductwork can put a slice in your pants (not to mention in your forehead if you forget to wear a hard hat).

So, I’ve gotten in the habit of buying inexpensive clothing for work because it’s way too frustrating to have a brand new pair of $100 dress slacks from Joseph A. Banks get a tear or an industrial strength grease stain just because I had to make an unexpected visit to a building’s boiler room. On the other hand, if I rip or stain a pair of $14 pants, I shrug and head for the big box store to buy another pair.

However, choosing to wear cheapo clothes comes with a certain understanding: you simply can’t complain if the seam unravels on its own. If I returned the pants to the store and demanded my money back, the customer service clerk surely would say, “But you only paid 14 bucks. And you wore them FIVE whole times. What did you expect?”

It’s like that episode of Seinfeld, when they debated whether you can bring a piece of mushy fruit back to the store for a refund. Of course you can’t. It’s fruit. That peach cost 50 cents. It’s part of the inherent risk of being alive. You get a mushy piece of fruit, you throw it away and move on with your life. You get an unraveled seam in a pair of $14 pants, you use it as a rag to check the oil in your car and you move on with your life.

A few weeks later, after purchasing a replacement pair of pants for $14, I was preparing to give another presentation to a room full of engineers. As I bent over to plug my laptop computer’s power cord into the wall socket, a loud ripping sound filled the room. A couple of guys said, “What was that?” I shrugged, trying to ignore my rapidly reddening face, and replied, “I didn’t hear anything.”

The meeting went well, and I hope no one noticed that I gave the entire presentation while standing with my back firmly wedged into the corner of the room. I might have to upgrade and start wearing $16 pants.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

If God Is for Israel, Who Can Be Against Her?

There is no doubt about it, Christians and Jews have some major theological differences, centered primarily around the true identity of Jesus Christ. Christians believe that Jesus is the divine Son of God, the Messiah, while Jews believe the promised Messiah is still yet to come.

There is also no doubt about it, a lot of horrific anti-Semitism has occurred throughout the centuries, with much of the persecution of Jews being perpetrated by Christians.

In this week’s first reading at Mass, the prophet Isaiah wrote, “The Lord said to me: You are my servant, Israel, through whom I show my glory.”

The words of Scripture are clear: the Israelites are, were, and always will be God’s Chosen People.

In this week’s gospel reading, John the Baptist discussed his encounter with Jesus. John referred to Jesus as “the Lamb of God,” and added, “The reason why I came baptizing with water was that [Jesus] might be made known to Israel.”

Christians believe at that particular moment in history, early in the 1st century in Palestine, God set in motion His wonderful plan to offer salvation to all of mankind. The long-awaited Messiah finally appeared. The savior of the world, the Incarnate Word of God, came as a Jew; and He came, not surprisingly, from the nation of Israel. He first made Himself known to Israel, as John explained, and then to the whole world.

This is why Christians should be strong supporters of modern Israel. We know that our Savior was, is, and always will be a Jew. We know that God made a special covenant with Israel, His beloved Chosen People, and God never breaks His promises. We know God still very much loves His Chosen People Israel. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to conclude that if a person chooses to hate something that God loves, he is definitely making a big mistake.

At this point, a natural and obvious question is: But wait a minute, Israel rejected Jesus as the Messiah, so doesn’t that change everything?

Actually, no.

For a better understanding, we need to turn to St. Paul, whose preaching to the Jews was met with a great deal of resistance, primarily from the Jewish religious leaders. Paul was persecuted, beaten, and imprisoned. Some people plotted to assassinate Paul. If anyone had a good reason to conclude that the Jews were no longer God’s Chosen People because they had rejected Jesus as the Messiah, it was St. Paul.

But Paul never drew that conclusion. Toward the end of his life, after suffering much at the hands of the Jewish religious leaders, Paul discussed the Jewish people in his letter to the Romans. He wrote, “I ask then, Did God reject his people? By no means!....God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew” (Romans 11:1-2).

Paul summarized his message: “Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:25-26).

It is worth repeating: “And so ALL Israel will be saved.”

The divinely-inspired Bible clearly teaches that God did not reject Israel, which reminds me of a cute bumper stick I recently saw: “My boss is a Jewish Carpenter.” (I’m assuming the person who put that on his car is a Christian and not an employee of the Goldstein Brothers Construction Company in Jersey City.)

If you worship Jesus, you’re worshipping a Jew. If you’re devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary, you’re devoted to a Jew. If you follow the apostolic teachings handed down by St. Peter, St. John, St. Matthew, St. James, St. Paul, etc., well, you get the point: all Jews.

Yes, we have some major theological differences with our Jewish brothers and sisters. But if God loves His Chosen People, then we had better love them, too.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Total Laryngitis: Talk About Frustrating

It started as a scratchy tickle in my throat. Uh oh, I thought, feels like I’m getting a cold. By tomorrow I’ll have a stuffy head and runny nose.

However, this particular cold, instead of making my head stuffy and my nose runny, decided to take residence right in my throat. The next day my head was fine and my nose was dry, but my vocal cords had gone on strike. I was in complete Harpo Marx mode, unable to make a sound.

Talk about frustrating! Well, actually, I was unable to talk about frustrating. I was unable to talk about anything. If I had been able to utter any words, I would’ve said, “I knew I shouldn’t have signed that contract with Ursula the Sea Witch!” (C’mon, that was funny. Don’t you remember the movie “The Little Mermaid”? When Ariel traded her voice for the chance to be human? Well, if you had young daughters in the 1990s, like I did, you’d be familiar with that movie. And by “familiar” I mean: you viewed the video a minimum of 8,000 times, causing every song to be forever burned into your memory.)

By Friday afternoon the ol’ vocal cords stopped working. I kept busy at the office, but every time the phone rang I could only stare at it and let it ring. A coworker walked by my office just as my phone started ringing. He paused and saw that I was making no effort to answer it. He said, “You gonna get that, Bill?”

I shook my head no. He said, “Oh, I see. You already know who it is. One of your annoying ‘high maintenance’ clients, right?”

I shrugged to indicate maybe, although I had no idea who was calling.

He continued, “Yeah, and that’s the last thing you want on a Friday afternoon, to have one of your pushy customers start a new project that’ll keep you busy all weekend. Good thinking, Dunn. Let it wait till Monday.”

I smiled and nodded. He walked away with a knowing smirk, now fully aware of my devious scheme — a scheme I had no idea I was even planning.

Later that evening we went out to dinner with my daughter’s new in-laws, who had just flown over from Italy. Everyone was laughing and having a great time at the restaurant. At least 50 clever comments popped into my head during the evening (well, at least I thought they were funny), but all I could do was sit there and smile. Talk about frustrating! Oh right, once again I could not talk about frustrating, nor any other subject.

The next day was the U.S. wedding reception, for friends and loved ones who couldn’t make it to Italy for the actual wedding ceremony in October. I was supposed to give a little speech and a toast. But since my voice was toast, my other daughter delivered my speech/toast for me. To make sure everyone knew she was playing the part of me, she read the speech while wearing a Red Sox hat. She did a great job, and got far more laughs that I would’ve.

Then the next night, I was schedule to be the Master of Ceremonies at an awards banquet for Carolyn’s Place Pregnancy Care Center in Waterbury. This time I forced my wife to do all the talking while I stood next to her making goofy faces.

The next morning I woke up with a stuffy head and runny nose. I muttered, “Oh great, now the cold has moved to my head. Hey, wait a minute. I can talk again! Yippee!” 

I was never so glad to have a runny nose.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

What Will Our Heavenly Bodies Look Like?

The Holy Scriptures, along with Church Tradition, clearly teach that when (or if?) we get to Heaven, we will not be pure spirits like the angels. We will have bodies. Our earthly bodies will be resurrected, with all the decay of death completely removed. That’s very comforting, but I wonder what age our heavenly bodies will be? Will they be the same age we were when we died? I hope our bodies will be a bit younger, although age 13 might be a little too young; that was an awkward age. Since Heaven is a place of pure joy, I don’t suspect our bodies will be very old either. I mean, being in need of a walker, cataract surgery, and a pacemaker doesn’t sound like paradise. Even middle-age bodies are unlikely, since it’s hard to imagine heavenly saints being unable to find their reading glasses and needing to get up at 2 a.m. to use the bathroom.
Wouldn’t it be nice if in Heaven our resurrected bodies were a hybrid of various stages of life here on earth? How about this combination: our bodies have the experience and understanding of, say, a 70-year-old. But we also have the mental sharpness, focus, and drive of a 45-year-old. Finally, our heavenly bodies have the same physical strength and good looks we had when we were 20. Wouldn’t that be great? We’d be young and strong and handsome, but with the knowledge and experience that normally takes a lifetime to accumulate. That would be wonderful.
Except, there is one slight problem. Every single attribute I’ve just described—knowledge, mental sharpness, physical strength, good looks—are all attractive to us right now because of pride and vanity. We are imagining how great it would be to have all those attributes, but only because it would impress other people. C’mon, admit it. If your body was 20 years old, but you had the knowledge and understanding and mental skills of someone who has been an adult for many decades, that would be amazing. You’d get promoted at work; you’d be on the cover of magazines; you’d have members of the opposite sex begging to go out with you.
However, the reason that scenario strikes us as appealing is pure pride, the desire to be better and more attractive than everyone else. Some people are consumed with pride; others only have a small dose of it. But everyone on earth struggles with pride to some extent. Pride is the first and worst of all sins, and pride is the one thing that will not be in found in Heaven. In Heaven, the saints, with their resurrected bodies, joyfully focus all their attention and devotion toward God. The saints probably aren’t even aware of what their bodies look like. It doesn’t matter anymore. Pride and vanity are gone, and no one has the urge to impress anyone else, so who cares what bodies look like?

There is a place besides this earth where pride is abundantly present, and where people are very concerned about impressing others. That place is called Hell.
So maybe our resurrected heavenly bodies will be age 13. Or possibly age 90. It won’t matter to us then, because our time in Purgatory will have removed sinful pride from our souls. (Some of us, of course, who occasionally think we are the center of the universe, might need a couple extra millennia to root out that bad attitude.) 
Even though Scripture promises that we will have resurrected bodies in Heaven, the age and appearance of our bodies will be meaningless. The only thing that will matter is that we are awash in God’s love and joy for all eternity.