In keeping with the mind of the Church in these last weeks of the liturgical year, we continue our consideration of the end-times. Last week, we reflected on three of the four “last things”: death, judgment, and Hell. Today we’ll look at the more pleasant topic of Heaven.
Life here below is all about the pursuit of sanctity. How does one go about that process, so as to know the greatest measure of fulfillment now, as well as beatitude for all eternity? Saint Teresa of Ávila offered a simple but profound insight: “Trifles make for holiness, but holiness is no trifle.” The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews declared: “For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city which is to come” (Heb 13:14). That does not mean that we despise this earth; it does mean, however, that we understand that we were made for more.
So, how does one get to “the more,” that is, Heaven? By being a saint on earth. And how does one become a saint? By living a life of holiness. And in what does holiness consist? Let me suggest seven elements.
1. Holiness consists in being childlike. Our Lord Himself asserted – unequivocally – “unless you turn and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven” (Mt 18:3). But, as you have undoubtedly heard many times, being childlike is quite different from being childish. Saint Thérèse, for example, was devoted to the Holy Child Jesus because she found in Him all the qualities to become a saint herself. What is spiritual childhood, you ask?
The pseudo-sophisticates of the two last centuries of blood and violence need to acknowledge that their programs have failed abysmally and that the human capacity for God can only be satisfied when one approaches that God as a child accepts the loving overtures of a father.
2. Holiness consists in having a strong love for the Holy Eucharist. You cannot point to a single saint in history who did not have a special devotion to the Eucharistic Christ. Let but two serve as representatives of hundreds of others.
In Loss and Gain, Cardinal Newman’s autobiographical novel, he has his alter ego proclaim:
To me nothing is so consoling, so piercing, so thrilling, so overcoming, as the Mass. . . . I could attend Masses for ever and not be tired. It is not a mere form of words, – it is a great action, the greatest action that can be on earth. It is, not the invocation merely, but, if I dare use the word, the evocation of the Eternal. He becomes present on the altar in flesh and blood, before whom angels bow and devils tremble.
Saint José Maria Escrivá asserts: “A very important characteristic of the apostolic man is his love for the Mass.” We are allowed to eavesdrop on a conversation between him and one of his spiritual directees: “‘The Mass is long,’ you say, and I reply, ‘Because your love is short.’”
In light of these brief but powerful statements, what are we to think of would-be theologians who tell us that Jesus is as present in nature or in ourselves as in the Bread of the Eucharist – even though the Second Vatican Council and all the Popes since then have said otherwise? What shall be say when polls tell us that two-thirds of those who receive the Lord in Holy Communion each Sunday do not believe in His Real Presence? What shall be our reply when so many clergy and laity alike fail to give the reverence and adoration due the Sacrament in which is contained the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity? How should we react to those (God forbid, some of us included) who make sacrilegious Communions by approaching the holy altar while still in the grip of sin and out of fear of human respect?
Read more at Catholic World Report.