Tag Archives: heaven

All Saints Day

 

Christ alpha om

We usually think of Mary, the mother of Jesus, apostles like Peter and Paul, or extraordinary individuals like Mother Teresa when we think of saints. True friends of God.

Besides  them, the Feast of Saints reminds us of unnumbered others in God’s company. In a vision of heaven, St. John saw “a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue.” {Revelations 7, 9-13} We hope we will join them one day.

Our hope rests on a promise Jesus made:

“See what love the Father has bestowed on us
that we may be called the children of God.
Yet so we are…
Beloved, we are God’s children now;
what we shall be has not yet been revealed.” (1 John 3,1-3)

How shall we reach that place where we’ll be revealed as children of God? Jesus says to follow him and live as he taught. He shows the way in his Sermon on the Mount, our gospel reading for this feast. He will be the way, the truth and the life.

We haven’t seen yet that promised  life. We haven’t completed our lives here yet. This feast reminds us of the hope God reveals.

Extraordinary saints are not the only ones in heaven. There is a multitude of others, not a few. God welcomes countless others, saints unnoticed here on earth, saints with little to show, saints who were sinners. People like us.

Celebrating  this feast, remember your destiny, St. Bernard says:

“Rise again with Christ and seek the world above and set your mind on heaven. Long for those who are longing for us; hasten to those who are waiting for us, ask those who are looking for our coming to intercede for us. Desire their company and seek a share in their glory. There’s no harm in being ambitious for this. No danger in setting your heart on such glory.

“Remembering the saints inflames us with a yearning that Christ our life may appear to us as he appeared to them and that one day we may share in his glory.”

The World Here and the World Beyond

Two worlds are described in the readings at Mass this week. The Gospel of Mark tells of the world that Jesus lived in over two thousand years ago, the world around Capernaum by the Sea of Galilee, where he called his first disciples, encountered a demon in the synagogue, cured Peter’s mother in law, the paralyzed man and the leper. (Mark 1,14-2,12) It’s a world like ours that he came to redeem.

The world described in the Letter to the Hebrews is a world beyond this one, the world of the Risen Lord. Jesus enters that world as Lord of all creation; he sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, our creed says.

The Letter to the Hebrews describes him further as a High Priest entering a heavenly sanctuary to intercede for us. He’s a merciful High Priest, the same Jesus who entered Capernaum and cured Peter’s mother in law, the paralyzed man and the leper. He’s knows our humanity with its weakness and its yearning; he carries the wounds of suffering and death.

It’s hard to keep these two worlds in mind, but our readings, like our creed, tell us to do it. They’re not sealed off, they’re joined to each other. They have a common goal:  “Our Father, thy will done, thy kingdom come.” The Risen Jesus is present in both of these worlds. He’s Savior and Redeemer. Through him, God’s kingdom will come.

Unfortunately, some today only think of the world they see now. Others are unsure or confused about a world beyond this one.  Some see the world beyond as an escape from this life, an isolated world in the clouds. For some the world beyond is a world we make, a world without Jesus Christ and the mystery of his resurrection.

Some conclude it’s just not important to think about it. But that’s wrong. What we think about life beyond this determines how we live now. It makes a difference.

Morning Thoughts: Heaven in One Act

by Howard Hain

 


—a play for children, adults, and all humanity—


 

ACT ONE

 

Scene 1

 

(Midweek morning, a small urban apartment, a father and his seven-year-old daughter, sitting on an old IKEA couch, half hour before school)

 

DAUGHTER (looking out window):  Daddy, is heaven real?

FATHER (sipping coffee):  Absolutely.

D:   And Jesus is in heaven?

F:   Yes. Definitely.

D:   Are there people in heaven with Jesus?

F:   Yes.

D:   People who died?

F:   Yes, people who died but who now live forever with Jesus in heaven.

D:   Forever?

F:   Yes, for ever and ever. Perfectly happy.

D:   Perfectly?

F:   Perfectly.

D:   What do they do in heaven all that time?

F:   Well, they do what Jesus does, because when you’re in heaven you’re like Him.

D:   Like Him? People in heaven are like Jesus?

F:   Yes, when you’re in heaven you see Jesus, so you become like Him, like God.

D:   I don’t understand…

F:   Well, it’s hard to explain. I don’t really understand it either. I don’t know if anybody does…it’s really hard to even try…

D:   Can you? Can you try?

F:   Well, put it this way. You know that God is great, right?

D:   Yes…

F:   Well, He’s not just great, He’s so great that everything that even comes close to Him becomes great…     In fact, He’s so great that when a person even sees God—I mean really sees Him—really, really sees Him—that person actually becomes like God.     It’s amazing…but God is just that great. He’s that powerful.

D:   But what about me?

F:   What about you?

D:   What if I see God? What if I really see Him—if I really, really see Him—will I be like God too?

F:   Well, yes…when you’re in heaven…you’ll be like God too.

D:   But how come not now?

F:   Well, do you see God now?

D:   No…not really…(long pause)…(smiling)…but kind of…

F:   Well…you’re right…sometimes we do “kind of” see God…we “kind of” get a little “peak” at Him every once in a while…but in heaven it’s different, it’s like seeing God face to face—just like you and I see each other right now—but even much more, because in heaven you’ll never stop seeing Him.     In heaven it’s not like seeing someone now but not seeing him or her a little while later.     In heaven it’s always…you and God never stop seeing each other…

D:   And that makes you just like God?

F:   Well, yes, because in heaven you are totally part of Jesus, and He is totally part of you. It’s like the two of you are one “thing”.

D:   That’s why you do what Jesus does?

F:   Yes.     I mean, how could you not?     Think about it…     Imagine if you were tied to someone at the waist by a very, very short rope…     Ok?     Picture it.     Now…wouldn’t you have to go everywhere that person goes?

D:   Yes…

F:   So if he went into the kitchen, you’d go into the kitchen…and if he went to sit on the couch, well, you’d go sit on the couch…

D:   Yes…like those twins we saw on TV…the ones that were still attached…

F:   (smiling)  Well, yes, kind of…     …that’s a really good example… (pause) …maybe it’s more like two little twin babies who are still living in their mommy’s belly, who go everywhere their mommy goes…     Because in heaven it’s like you’re attached to Jesus in every good way possible…your mind, your heart, your soul…and yet you’re totally free, free to do whatever you want whenever you want…and that’s maybe the best part, because what you want to do is always exactly what Jesus is already doing! So it all works out perfectly. That’s why you’re so happy in heaven. Happy as happy can be. So happy that no one on earth can even imagine being that happy.     Imagine that!      It’s like two best friends who always, always, always agree to play the same game and always, always, always have the best time.     Make sense?

D:   Yeah, they’d be like the best friends in the entire world…like the best friends that could ever be…

F:   Yeah…that’s a great way to put it…     In heaven you and Jesus are the best friends that could ever be…

D:   So what kind of stuff do they do in heaven?

F:   Well, they love. They love all the time. They love God…they love each other…and they love us…and they also pray…

D:   People in heaven still pray?

F:   Sure they do…but they don’t pray for themselves anymore. They’re already in heaven, so now they only pray for other people, for people like us who are still on earth—just like Jesus does.     Jesus prays for us, so they pray for us….     It has a big fancy word. It’s called “interceding”.

D:   Interceding?

F:   It means to ask the Father—Father God—to bless us, to be kind to us—to all of us still on earth—and to let us come into heaven when we die so we can live with Him, and the Father, and the Holy Spirit, and all of God’s holy angels and saints…forever and ever…

D:   Wow, I really want to see what heaven looks like!

F:   Me too!

D:   And you’re old, so you’ll go before me, right?

F:   That makes sense…

D:   So when you go to heaven, Daddy, you can pray for me too, with Jesus…

F:   Absolutely. (pause) (looking outward, nodding his head) (smiling) I’ll see Him face to face and be like Him…and I’ll be happy forever…and I’ll do all that Jesus does…     (turning toward his daughter) And I will pray for you until the day you join us in heaven, for ever and ever… perfect happiness together… best, best friends forever…and ever…and ever…

(Smile. A big smile. In both directions)

F: (starting to get up off the couch)  Ok, that’s enough heaven talk…heaven starts right now.     Go have a good day at school. Be a good girl…listen…and have fun…that’s definitely part of your job here on earth.     Got It?

D:   Got it.

F:   I love you so much…

D:   I love you too, Daddy.

(A hug, a kiss, a quick blessing. Father and daughter exit opposite sides of stage)

 

CURTAIN


 

Howard Hain is a contemplative layman, husband, and father. He blogs at http://www.howardhain.com  

Follow Howard on Twitter @HowardDHain

http://www.twitter.com/HowardDHain

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Morning Thoughts: Remembrance of Things Past

by Howard Hain

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“…forgetting the past and pushing on to what is ahead…”

—Philippians 3:13


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What is the past? A remembrance of things past. Of what has been. Of what is not now. Of what is no longer today.

What is re-membering? A putting back together of what once was. Of what was once whole. Complete. United. Unified. A re-attachment of “bodily” members currently detached. A body made whole, brought back into health. It is healing. It is “being” fulfilled.

What is to forget? The act of properly re-membering. Beyond elimination. Beyond denial. It is re-valuation. It is re-deeming. Of value. A re-establishment of worth. An instance of humanity made universality worthy once more.

What is worthy? What has value? The future lived presently. Proper hope brought into active being. Knowing ‘now’ is a perpetual tomorrow, lived fully today.

It is tomorrow’s air breathed as we currently speak.

A human being living in heaven.

A human being “knowing” heaven was once, is now, and will be forever.

Worthy is a person “forgetting the past and pushing on to what is ahead…”


 

Praise be Incarnate Wisdom. Now and forever.

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Friday Thoughts: Joy of Minds Made Pure


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The one who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” Then he said, “Write these words down, for they are trustworthy and true.”

—Revelation 21:5


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There’s a place

Where walls are made of flowers

And petals are made of uncut stones.

Where virtue grows untold

And innocence can simply be itself.

Where earth and water mix

But never make mud.

The rain continually falls,

The sun always shines,

The dew remains sight unseen.

Laughter, joyful laughter

Tills the soil.

Weeds are welcome,

No plant chokes another.

The seasons,

They come and go,

The temperature remains the same.

Innocence. Innocence. Innocence.

The constant refrain.

Such a place exists.

It lowers from the sky

While within a playground

Filled with screaming kids.


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Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The former heaven and the former earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.

I also saw the holy city, a new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race. He will dwell with them and they will be his people and God himself will always be with them as their God.

He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, for the old order has passed away.”

—Revelation 21:1-4


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—Howard Hain

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Friday Thoughts: A Call to Praise God


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Come, let us sing to the Lord

and shout with joy to the Rock who saves us.

—Psalm 95:1


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Come,

Me? Am I included? Can I come as well? But you are God? Am I really allowed to join the celebration?

But Your Word simply says “Come”. It’s an open invitation, right? An open call; no qualifications, no applications, no background checks, no letters of introduction required?

It seems pretty clear. So I guess I shall. I shall come along. After all, I’ve followed crowds all my life, perhaps it’s time to follow the “great cloud of witnesses”—Your patriarchs and Your prophets, Your holy angels and Your holy saints. I will come along then. Forgive me though, Lord, for not being properly dressed. But if I were to first run home to change, I wouldn’t even know where to begin. Plus, I might then miss the entire affair.

No, I’ll come now, just as I am—no more excuses, no more procrastination—for the procession is well under way.

…let us sing to the Lord…

But…forgive me, Lord…there I go again, once more I begin a thought with such an ugly conjunction. “But”…I am so unprepared. Sing? Me? In Public? With my voice? You know well the noise I make. But then again, I cannot deny it, when I am alone, You know Lord that I love to sing. I truly do. All kinds of melodies, all kinds of hymns. I even compose. And chanting, that too I do. In fact, to be really honest, I don’t think I’m half bad. Come to think of it, I’m actually pretty good. Relatively speaking, of course. Put it this way, within my little “monastic cell”, within the confines of my “inner room”—with the “door” well “shut”—I not only “sing”, but “dance”.

Perhaps it’s time to take the show on the road?

…and shout with joy…

Yes. With this one there are no “ifs, ands, or buts.” That I can do. I can shout. I can “shout with joy”. “You are fantastic! Truly!! I love You!!!” And the more I say it, the more joy I feel. So shout? Shout with joy? Yes, that I will do. I do it now. Right now. Even if it wakes my neighbors. Maybe precisely because it might wake my neighbors. I shout. I shout. I shout. “JOY!” “JOY!” “JOY!” And as I do, I remember. A sweet memory. A joyful memory. A memory that makes a small smile grow larger and eventually into a laugh, an out-loud laugh, even while sitting all by myself. And yet, that’s just the point, “with joy” we are never alone. For a memory—a memory transformed by hope—brings resurrection and divine significance to even the smallest details of our life. “The memory of the just will be blessed.” Bringing the Kingdom to life, but not only in our here and now, for the Holy Spirit also breathes life into our past.

The specific memory I now recall—the one currently “at hand” and recreating “earth as it is in heaven”—involves a classmate I knew many years ago in elementary school. Her name was Joy.

I don’t remember shouting with Joy, but I do clearly recall that she was the prettiest girl in class.

…to the Rock who saves us.

I blame you. You blame me. We both blame Adam. He blames Eve. She blames Satan. He doesn’t care about anything, all he wants is for us not to blame ourselves. For if we don’t “repent” how can we possibly “believe in the gospel”? And that’s the beginning of the end of not buying the “good news”. For the Kingdom begins when we realize we need to be saved from ourselves. And without that self knowledge, without the realization that we cannot anchor ourselves to ourselves, we drift falsely self-assured in utter chaos, “without form and shape, with darkness over the abyss.”  In other words, for you and for me, and for all who “cast the first stone”, “the kingdom of God” is no longer “at hand.”

Lucky for us, some stones miss their target. Some even fall right as they fall into place. For “the stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” Jesus, rejected by the builders of earthly kingdoms, fell asleep on the wood of the cross. He slept the sleep of death, dead to all the world, while His soul was still awake, truly awake to all those “saved in hope.” For “the hope of the just brings them joy.”

Jesus is then “the Rock”—“the Rock” who was laid within the “rock-hewn tomb”.

He is the “cornerstone” and the entire “temple”—the stone “temple” totally torn “down” (“not one stone…left upon another”) and completely raised up “in three days”.

He is “the living stone” toward whom we “shout with joy”.

Jesus is truly “the Rock who saves us.”

And even if we reject His plea to be “also, like living stones”, failing to let ourselves “be built into a spiritual house”, there will still be praise. For His glory won’t be denied:

As Jesus Himself replied: “I tell you, if they keep silent, the very stones will cry out!”


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Come, let us sing to the Lord

and shout with joy to the Rock who saves us.

—Psalm 95:1


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—Howard Hain

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