Tag: Heaven

Our Journey To Sainthood

Our Journey To Sainthood

We actually have a large list of canonized saints, and most of them are well known to have done amazing things. And they go ahead to do so: finding things for us, helping to heal our illnesses, and obtaining favors. They are partners who pray with us and for us.

For such intercession support, we might also count on deceased family and friends whose holiness and love helped us on our journey through life while they were alive.

Between them and us there is the not-so-important event called death. Those of us who have experienced the death of someone we love know how hard it is to let go. And if we have been with the person at the moment of death — even though we believe in faith that he or she has gone to a better place — the memory of the experience can stay for years.

In as much as death is an everyday occurrence, the Church this month places life and death before our eyes in a special way — in the feast of All Saints and the Commemoration of the Holy Souls. These days are a sober reminder that “here we have no lasting city” (Hebrews 13:14). And yet, for those who believe, death is not the end; it is a transition, the gate through which we must pass to eternal life.

Once death comes, even following a long period of suffering, its arrival is swift and leaves a feeling of deep emptiness for those who remain. It is definitely uncomfortable to face death, to cogitate about it, to discuss about it. And yet the problems for us all is to confront death in faith as an integral part of our human condition.

My friends, we believe that God has prepared great things for those who struggle to love him. One of my favorite little bits of the Bible, from 1 Corinthians, is this saying:

What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him (2:9).

To put it simply, God wants us to be saints. Saints! In Greek, the term is ἅγιοι (hagioi) and in Latin, sancti — literally, “the holy ones.” Our life’s goal is to be with the saints and be one of them in the unspeakable happiness of heaven.

You might have observed that Pope Francis, when he’s interacting with young people, often taps them on the face with his hand. It reminds us how, in days gone by, in conferring the sacrament of Confirmation, the bishop would give the one being confirmed a gentle slap on the cheek. This 13th-century ritual, which is no longer practiced, was meant to be a reminder that the struggle now begins in earnest.

Our lives (and I know I don’t need to tell you) are often a struggle, even a battle. We wage war with sickness and disappointment, with broken relationships, and certainly with personal sin. This is our exciting human and Christian struggle. This is the path of holiness.

Our goal in this life must be to become all that we were created to be so we can join the women and men, boys and girls, who right now see the glory of God. Like them, we are called to do amazing things in our lives. To be a superhero? Well, simply to respond to all our daily challenges and struggles in the way the Gospel calls us to do can be considered amazing, even heroic. With courage today and always, permit God to assist you to become all that he created you to be. Keep up the struggle. If you’re down, get up!

Be glad and proud to follow Jesus Christ, for your reward will be great … in heaven!

The Four Last Things: DEATH, JUDGEMENT, HELL & HEAVEN

The Four Last Things: DEATH, JUDGEMENT, HELL & HEAVEN

DEATH:

CERTAINTY OF DEATH
• It is appointed unto man once to die Heb. 9:27
• Death is certain: you are dust and…. Gen. 3:19
• Be prepared for death
• As we attend funeral of others, so will others attend our own funeral
• As we, heard the shocking news of the death of others, so will others hear the shocking news of our death.

REFLECTON:
I shall die

IMPLICATION:
• Departure from parents, friends, pleasures, possessions and anything dear to me.
• My lot is a casket and six feet of earth and this will happen very soon. How short indeed even the longest life is.
• Decomposition of my body: food for worms, returning to dust from where it came from.
For true children of Mary, such thoughts should cheer us for we should long for that blessed moment.

UNCERTAINTY OF THE HOUR OF DEATH
Be you then also ready for at what hour you think not, the Son of man will come Lk. 12:40
• Death is certain, but the hour is uncertain: “the day of the Lord will come as a thief comes at night.” 1 Thess. 5:2
• No procrastination: let me live as I like, tomorrow I will go for confession, who knows tomorrow?

REFLECTION:
• When shall I die?
• No one knows. Over 150,000 people die everyday and go for judgment.
• I may die today
• Am I ready to die?
• Am I living in a condition which I do not wish to die?
• How shall I die?
• Will I die in a state of grace?
It’s time for us to think very well.

PREPARATION FOR DEATH:
St. Alphonsus efficacious means of preparing for death.
a. Not to wait till the last moment:
• No one even knows when the last moment will be and it will be difficult to make any fruitful preparation then.
• The five foolish virgins called fools by Jesus because they waited until the arrival of the bridegroom to prepare their lamps.
• We are expected to do what is right now.
b. Put our conscience in a good state and regulate our lives
• Examination of our past life, contrition for them and a resolve to regulate our conduct.
• Faithfulness to religious practices: daily Mass, and holy Communion, mediation on eternal truth, frequenting the Sacrament of Penance, visit to the Blessed Sacrament, to the image of Mary, attendance at her confraternity, spiritual reading, examination of conscience, devotion to Mary, fasting, invocation of the holy Names of Jesus and Mary in times of temptation.
c. We must detach ourselves from the world.
• Detachment necessary for our spiritual growth
• An attached person will unhappily have to detach from all his attachment at the hour of death.

JUDGEMENT

• After death comes judgment Heb. 9:27
• Two types: particular and general

PARTICULAR JUDGEMENT
This refers to the judgment which take place immediately after ones death. It is concerned with each man as an individual. It is a private personal judgment wherein the individual learns of his or her final just reward/punishment.
• The Lord will come down to judge the individual according to his works Lk. 12:40
• To be judged by a judge before whom nothing is hidden
• The judgment starts and books were opened Dan 7:10
• Two books: gospel and conscience
• In the Gospel will be rend what the accused should have done.
• In his conscience what he has done.

ACCUSERS AT THE JUDGMENT
i. The Devil – will recite the words of our profession/promise and vows to God which we have made and will accuse us of what we have done; of violation of these promises
ii. Our guardian angel – accusing us of despising their warnings even after laboring for our salvation.
iii. The walls – where the sinner sinned will witness against him or her.
iv. Our conscience – also to accuse us Romans 2:15
v. The individuals’ sins
vi. The wounds of Jesus Christ will accuse the sinner too.
• We shall account for what we have done with our senses.
• The just man will scarcely be saved how much more will the sinner be?
• Then after all these the strict thorough and just scrutiny or examination – the judge will pass sentence Matt. 24:11, Rm. 2:6

GENERAL JUDGMENT
This will take place at the end of time. The judgment of God on each individual will be made known to all. It is the manifestation of the glory and majesty of Jesus Christ. St. Paul’s favorite term for the general or final judgment is, “the day of the Lord” the day the glory of Jesus Christ will be manifested 2Thess.  1:10

HELL

“And these shall go into everlasting punishment.”

THE DOCTRINE OF HELL
Hell is a place of torment for those who die guilty of serious disobedience to God; it is a place where devil and unrepentant sinners suffer forever. Such was the clear teaching of Jesus Christ. Rev.20:15, Rev.21:8. The first Vatican Council declares: to anyone who says the punishment of those in hell will not last: LET HIM BE ANATHEMA.

CHRIST SPEAKS OF HELL
“… Fear God that can cause soul and body to perish in Hell.” Matt. 10:28, also Mk. 9:42-48
The word “Hell” was even on the lips of Jesus Christ.

HELL IS A PUNISHMENT FOR SIN
It is a punishment for those who die guilty of serious sins and deliberately opposed the will of God which can be opposed by many different kinds of sin – 1 Cor. 6:19-20, Gal. 5:19-21
– St. Paul adds: “…all those who do such things shall not obtain the Kingdom of God” Gal. 5:21

THE PAINS OF HELL
– Pain of fire (pain of inextinguishable fire to be experiences by the senses.
– Pain of loss

Hell as we have said is a place of torment where all the senses and posers of the damned will have their proper torment by fire and where the more a person has offended God by any senses, the more he/she will be tormented by fire in that senses, “By what thing a man sinneth, by the same also he is tormented.” Rev. 18:7

THE OUTCOME OF THE UNEXTINGUISHABLE FIRE OF THE SENSES
– The sight: To be tormented with darkness, “….a land that is dark…” Job 10:22
– The sense of smell: To be tormented with a stench (horrible smell) emanating from their co-reprobate, “out of their carcasses shall rise a stink” Is. 34:3
– The sense of hearing: To be tormented by incessant/continuous howling and wailing of the damned.
– Also to be tormented by hunger, heat, thirst. ALL THESE TO LAST FOREVER AND EVER

THE PAIN OF LOSS
What is this loss?
It is loss of God; an everlasting exclusion from God’s presence. The other pain cannot be compared to this. St. Chrysostom says that a thousand hell are not equal to this pain. All the saints dread this loss. Our God is a merciful God but is equally a God of justice. He allows each one to reap what he or she has sown. While on earth, he shows his mercy by allowing us time to change but after death, justice takes its course, each one is rewarded according to his or her deeds.

HEAVEN

Where does true and everlasting happiness lies?
Many seek happiness in wealth and all that can be acquired through it. Some seek happiness through possession of beauty and health – but those unavoidably fade. Human happiness is found only in God and the happiness He alone can give. Our happiness that comes from doing God’s will, will not only be here on earth but if we persevere in doing what is right to the end we shall win for ourselves eternal happiness in heaven where our greatest happiness will be to see God face to face and to see him as he really is (BEATIFIC VISION), “what we see now is a deem image in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. What I know is only partial, then it will be complete as complete as God’s knowledge if me.” 1Cor.13:12
It is only in heaven that our longing for everlasting happiness would be fulfilled, “your heart shall rejoice and your joy no one shall take away from you.” John 16:22. Again the apostle said, “Eye has not seen nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man what things God hath prepared for them that live in him. 1Cor. 2:9
The only thing God ask of us is: To continue loving him and doing his will/what his kingdom requires – (Matt 6:33); allowing his spirit to direct our conducts, actions, behaviors since the same spirit gave us life – (Gal. 5:25).


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7 Powerful Images that Shows What Heaven Looks Like

7 Powerful Images that Shows What Heaven Looks Like

Scripture presents us with these beautiful visions, giving us all something to long for.

As humans, we all desire Heaven, a place where our tears will be wiped away and our suffering will finally end. However, it is impossible to imagine it, since Heaven is completely beyond, as St. Paul tells us, our human experience.

Some may have been given glimpses of Heaven through near-death experiences, but many admit words can never accurately describe it.

The best place to find an authentic picture of Heaven that gives us a little taste of what God has in store for us is in Scripture. God chose at least seven different ways to present Heaven to our mortal imaginations, encouraging us as we daily strive to follow his will in order to spend eternity with him.

God the Father’s house

“In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” (John 14:2)

A beautiful city, the New Jerusalem

“And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” (Revelation 21:2)

“And in the Spirit he carried me away to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal.” (Revelation 21:9-11)

Paradise

“And [Jesus] said to him, ‘Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.’” (Luke 23:43)

“To him who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” (Revelation 2:7)

Wedding Feast

“The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a marriage feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the marriage feast.” (Matthew 22:2)

“Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” (Revelation 19:9)

Better country, the true Promised Land

“But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one.” (Hebrews 11:16)

“[W]hen you pass over to enter the land which the Lord your God gives you, a land flowing with milk and honey, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you.” (Deuteronomy 27:3)

A place of light

“And night shall be no more; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they shall reign for ever and ever.” (Revelation 22:5)

A place of peace among all creation

“The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
and the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
and a little child shall lead them.” (Isaiah 11:6)

“[T]hey shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” (Isaiah 2:4)

Source: aleteia.org



The Only Use Of Money Is To Get You To Heaven

The Only Use Of Money Is To Get You To Heaven

It is a well-known fact that people start to tense up when the Church begins teaching about that most sacred thing we keep in our pants. I speak, of course, of our wallets.

And not, by the way, just us laypeople. Almost every priest I have ever known absolutely dreads having to discuss money. And that makes their job pretty rough since Jesus speaks more about money than about any other subject. He not only has plenty to say about the rich and the poor, but he constantly uses money to illustrate his parables. They are chock full of people being paid, or owing debts, or being forgiven debts, or investing, or blowing, or hiding money. He himself has no money as a rule (which is why he has to borrow a coin to talk about rendering to Caesar) and he radiates a distrust and disapproval of having to touch the stuff more than you might have to handle uranium 235, except for the same purpose: to get rid of it for some useful purpose while always being conscious that it might blow up in your face if you start to worship it. Mammon is, emphatically for Jesus, a rival god. Almost his whole counsel regarding money is “Be as generous as you can be with it, since the only real use for it is helping you get to heaven.”

And yet, of course, for all sorts of practical and sensible reasons, we are very leery of that advice. Why? There is a famous story about C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien that nicely illustrates the dilemma facing Christians whenever the question of generosity—and particularly generosity toward the poor arises. The two great writers were on a walking tour of England once and happened on a beggar. Lewis, as was his custom, reached into his pocket and gave the man what shillings he had. As they walked on, Tolkien frowned and said, “He’s just going to spend it on drink, you know.” To which Lewis replied, “I was just going to spend it on drink.”

It is strange to speak of the “problem of generosity”. Particularly when the Christian tradition is so clear in pronouncing a blessing on those who are generous. Like the Jewish tradition from which it springs, the Christian tradition commends liberality in giving. It sings Psalm 37:25-26:

“I have been young, and now am old;
yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging bread.
He is ever giving liberally and lending,
and his children become a blessing.”

Likewise, the apostle Paul says succinctly, “The Lord loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). And in this, he is simply following his Master who urges us, “Give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back” (Luke 6:38).

In short, the Christian tradition commends not just generosity, but almost a crazy generosity.

Which is, of course, the problem since reality quickly impinges on all that with various hard facts. One is that most of us don’t have all that much money and what we have we feel we need for food and shelter and taxes and the kid’s braces and the new transmission and the college fund and retirement and so forth. What if it’s not there when we need it? We’re not greedy. It’s not going to pay the servants fanning us with ostrich feathers and popping grapes in our mouths.

And in addition to the skimpy supply there is the matter of demand: who are these people asking for our hard-earned money? How do we know we aren’t just enabling somebody’s drug habit? What about people’s need to learn thrift and hard work and not going around looking for a handout? What should we think when the state gets involved?

As with sex, one place to not start is with the assumption that your first natural impulse is the right one. Just as lust is one of the seven deadly sins while chastity is a learned habit, so greed is also one of the seven deadly sins and generosity is a learned habit. This means that left to our untutored fallen nature, the odds are extremely good that we will choose to refuse Christian generosity if we could just as we’d choose lust if we could. Our natural impulse is to hoard our stuff as much as we can just as our natural impulse is to indulge our sexual appetite as often as we can. That’s life outside the garden.

So what do we do? Well one useful rule of thumb is to tithe: five percent to the Church, five percent to some other charity. However, the thing to bear in mind is that this is simply a baseline. In short, don’t go below it, but feel free to go as far above it as you like. The idea is that you are using your resources to give as much life and love as you can, not that you are fulfilling a minimum daily adult requirement of eating spinach. “Generosity” is related to words like “generate” and “generation”. It speaks of a joyful willingness to create the conditions for life and love and human flourishing.

The world hates all that. So it tells us various lies or edits the Bible to make it more “sensible”. One beloved verse the world cherishes (out of context) almost as much as it loves “Judge not” (out of context) is Paul’s remark, “If any one will not work, let him not eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). The problem is that this is taken from Paul’s Second Letter to the Thessalonians, not Paul’s Second Letter to the Americans. It is not intended as a social program, but as a directive to those within the Church, not to those outside it. His point was “Don’t sit there on your duffs waiting for Jesus to return, but get busy (so that you will have something to be generous with).”

So all those comforting things we tell ourselves about not giving to the “undeserving”? Yeah, here’s the thing: Jesus himself is astonishingly profligate and (by our standards) even reckless in his counsels on generosity toward those outside the Church. Just as he tells us to be generous in mercy beyond anything our cautious fallen nature is uncomfortable with (commanding us to forgive, not seven times, but seventy times seven times) so he urges us toward a generosity with our worldly wealth that scares us: “Give to him who begs from you, and do not refuse him who would borrow from you.” (Matthew 5:42). Note that there are no qualifications on that whatsoever. Nothing about the “deserving poor” or checking on their work history. Nothing about expectation of payback. Indeed, he specifically puts a premium on not getting payback:

When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your kinsmen or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return, and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just. (Luke 14:12-14)

So does that mean you should try to be prepared for anybody who asks? Well, yeah. Doesn’t mean it has to be money you give. You can, for instance, give food to a homeless guy. You can give yourself, listening for a few minutes. You can give to people who have the resources and knowledge of the community to help them. You can be generous with your time or talent if you don’t have a lot of dough. You can (and this is often overlooked) be a cheerful giver even when you pay your taxes (since the state’s legitimate job is, in part, looking out for the common good of the poor and homeless).

There is, in the end, no formula for generosity. It is an attitude of heart rather than a legal prescription.

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