There is a long list of things that people never hear in sermons anymore: mortal sin, judgment, Hell, purgatory, fornication … you name it. But there is another omission that is rather odd given the tenor of these times: Heaven.
Almost no one talks of Heaven and I seldom hear any expressed desire to go there. The way most of our prayers sound, we are content to have God make this world a better place. People will ask God to fix their health, fix their finances, and so forth. But quite absent from most prayers is any mention of Heaven or a desire to go there and be with God.
Many old prayers spoke of longing for Heaven. The Hail, Holy Queen laments that we live in exile, in a valley of tears, and are poor, banished children of Eve who long to see the blessed fruit of Mary’s womb, Jesus. Lots of old hymns sang of being free at last, of flying away to Heaven some bright morning when this life is over and looking forward to that day, “By and By when the morning comes.” Yes, soon and very soon! Older churches were designed to remind Catholics of Heaven and their structures were often centered around the vision of Heaven from the Book of Revelation.
Today, most of the focus of our so-called spiritual life is on making this world a better place, almost as if we were saying to God, “Make this world a little more comfortable and I’ll just stay here forever!”
Honestly, do you long for Heaven or are you just trying to make it through to tomorrow? Have you ever heard a sermon on Heaven? Does the thought of it excite you? It IS after all our reward, that eye has not seen and ear has never heard!
Granted, today there is a serious problem with universalism wherein it is assumed that almost everyone is going straight to Heaven when he dies. And maybe that’s part of the problem. Since so few think they can possibly lose the gift of Heaven, most take it for granted (literally and figuratively). Why be vigilant or care that much about something that is certain and has to be entered through a rather unpleasant door called death? We tend to regard lightly what we get for free, but if we must sacrifice to get it, we value it more highly. (If we had to scrimp to be able buy tickets for some event, we’ll be sure to get there on time!)
Another factor is that we live very comfortably these days. It is a kind of comfort that both distracts us from spiritual things and focuses us on worldly things. Our comforts also make the Cross seem strange, even immoral. Who cares about Heaven, especially since you have to die to get there! Instead most would rather focus on expanding their cable service or taking a cruise.
Yes, Heaven is a pretty remote thought for many today.
I thought about this yesterday, on the Feast of St. Cyprian, as I read through some of his works and happened upon an account of his martyrdom and also a meditation he wrote on the joy of Heaven. Consider this brief account of his martyrdom and then his short reflection on longing for Heaven:
On arriving at the spot where he was to die, Bishop Cyprian took off his mantle (overcoat), and fell to his knees and prostrated himself before God. Then, arising he took off his dalmatic which he gave to his attending deacons and remained in his long white robe. He payed his executioner the sum of 25 gold denarii. While this gesture was not unheard of, especially for a person of some means, it nevertheless tells us of the graciousness and forgiveness in the heart of Cyprian. He himself tied the blindfold over his eyes after which his hands were tied. Kneeling again he awaited the final blow. At length the sword passed and Cyprian ended his pilgrimage here. It was September 14, 258.
Reflecting on his martyrdom we do well to recall his own words of Heaven,
We have solemnly renounced the world and therefore, while we continue in it, should behave like strangers and pilgrims. We should welcome that happy day (of our death) which is to fix us, in our proper habitation, to rescue us from the embarrassments and snares of this world, and remove us to the kingdom of heaven.
Who of us, if he had long been a sojourner in a foreign land would not desire to return to his native country? Who of us, when he had begun to sail there would not wish for a prosperous wind to carry him to his desired home with speed, that he might sooner embrace his friends and relatives? We must account paradise our country.
There friends and parents and brethren and children without number wait for us and long to celebrate our happy arrival. They are in secure possession of their own joy yet are solicitous for ours. How great will be our common joy upon the transports of meeting together in those blessed abodes.
How unutterable must be the pleasures of that kingdom which have no intermission. There we shall meet with the glorious choir of apostles; with the goodly company of the prophets; with an innumerable multitude of holy martyrs; there we shall be blessed with the sight of those triumphant virgins who have subdued the inordinate lusts of the flesh; and there we shall behold the rewards of those who, by feeding the hungry and consoling the afflicted have with their earthly treasure stored up for themselves treasure in heaven.
To these beloved brethren let us hasten with eager longing!
Let us pray that it may befall us speedily to be with them; speedily to come to Christ. May God see this our purpose. May Christ look upon this resolution of our mind and faith, who will give more ample rewards of His love to those whose longings for Him have been greater (De Mortalitate, 26).
Yes, speedily may we be rescued from the embarrassments and snares of this world. And may we stay in the Lord’s narrow way that nothing will prevent us from beholding the beautiful face of God, for whom we long and whom we must ever more deeply desire! Let us hasten to the Lord and Heaven with eager longing!
49 Replies to “How Strange: Longing For Heaven Is Almost Never Expressed Today”
At funerals I have started to preach about the Last Four Things, explaining the horror of Hell, the mercy of Purgatory, and the absolute bliss of Heaven.
I am so delighted to read what you do at funerals, Deacon Henry! I would like you doing my funeral!! Also I would love to be able to read what you preach!
That is a wonderful thing, Deacon. For a long time it has troubled me that, at every funeral I have attended, the deceased was canonized on the spot by the Priest. It’s a wishy-washy “pastoral” approach that seeks to falsely assuage the grief of those left behind with a deception. It is cruel to the deceased who may desperately need prayers and supplication as he/she anguishes in purgatory but will get none because all of their loved ones left behind have been fooled into believing no prayers are required. Your loved one is already in heaven so that’s that.
It is essential that the Priest or Deacon presiding over a funeral remind those in attendance of the need to pray for the deceased. And, if the deceased is already in heaven, that their prayers for the poor souls in purgatory will not go wasted.
I am probably going to roast away in purgatory for a good spell before I am granted my reward. My instructions to my family and those I leave behind are to pray for me, a poor sinner suffering in purgatory. And don’t let anybody canonize me at my funeral.
Amen! Pray for the deceased and for the holy souls in Purgatory.
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john paul said many people are practical atheists, among many many baptized practical pantheism is the reality they think they automaticly go back to the love cloud in the sky
Life is very comfortable today When I started counting my blessings and consolations, I found my cup overfloweth (of earthly peace and comfort). We don’t sacrifice and most of us, most of the time don’t suffer very much. And when we do have emotional or physical pain we rush to numb ourselves and escape through drugs, alcohol or other distractions. We’re dead inside and we don’t even know it.
I have been trying to tell people about what Heaven looks like, as showed to me in a vision. And that is the very purpose why my friend, as inspired by the Spirit put up a site on FB entitled Heavenly Place and the administration was given to me. This is where I put all my messages, hope, trust that someday we can make this earth a Heaven, not only as we pray: Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven… but rather that we experience how and what it is to live on earth as if we are in heaven, by following the teachings and examples given by our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God who became Man. God loves us all.
Los Lonely Boys
Thanks for that – great song, even better lyrics.
And thanks for this Msgr. Pope. Excellent and great timing for today’s world.
Thank you for the link to Los Lonely Boys … I now rank them as a new favorite!
This is a message that I try so hard to get across to our Confirmation candidates every year!
I always tell them that from the moment we are conceived we are eternal. We are going so live eternally somewhere….It is for us to decide. Eternity. Does anyone really think about what that means?
The older I get the more I realize how short this life is. It’s a beautiful world, and we are given so many Blessings and Graces as we go through it, but it’s fallen, it’s not ultimately what God has in mind for His children.
Ever since I read “The Last Battle” by CS Lewis, as a young teenager, I have thought of that home as so much more real than this one.
Thanks, as always, for your posts. They are so edifying!
Thank you again, Msgr, for this excellent post. I think you hit the nail on the head – that the world thinks everyone’s going there. Funny (sad, really) that in our loss of discussing the Four Last Things (though, thx Dcn Henry!) – and particularly fostering a desire for heaven – the world has declared that everyone is going there. It seems the same folk who are always yelling “tolerance” about how people live their lives are quick to declare (almost dogmatically) that so and so is in heaven once they die. And if they don’t declare specifically that they are in heaven then you hear, “At least they’re in a better place.” Really? What is that better place of which you speak? And if it’s better, then why do you live as though the point of life is to have as much fun as possible because death means an end to fun?
On a personal note – I swam with the prevalent current of the world for a while in my life – and in growing deeper in the Faith I was praying the Salve Regina more often. As you mention, I would often repeat “in this valley of tears” and wonder about that line (the cross seemed so strange, as you say). So, I asked our Blessed Mother to show me what that line means. Careful what you ask/pray for – she’ll answer that one…because it will lead you ever closer to her Son! But I’d not change any of it for the world – Deo Gratias! It seems the paradox of the Cross is that in it lies true freedom, true surrender – what a grace, what a gift, and I pray more find the peace and freedom that lives at the foot of the cross, because they’ll hopefully find the desire for heaven there too. Thanks again, Msgr.
Praying and reflecting before the Lord in eucharistic adoration will put that longing in your heart as well as a genuine fear of hell.
thank you for this reminder. the cares of this world ensnare us indeed on a daily basis.
Agree! Perhaps Cardinal Dolan would benefit from reading Msgr. Pope’s blog.
Gee, this Cardinal doesn’t want to stand with the Pro-life Irish group being banned from the St. Patrick’s Day Parade?
So this Cardinal wants to join the parade that banned the PRO-LIFE IRISH Catholics?
This doesn’t smell right?
Bobster, you are right ‘the cares of this world ensnare us’.
Perhaps, the Cardinal is just too worldly. This Cardinal just loves to laugh and brush everything off.
I don’t think this Cardinal fear Jesus, I think he fears man.
Could it be that one reason that sermons do not directly bring up the issue much anymore is that there might be more focus on the need to try to live heaven even here , by holiness and purity in lives ;
books such as by Scott Hahn having helped to illustrate how every Holy Mass is ( to be ) participation in the joy and beauty of the worship and liturgy of heaven ;
living in a culture of death , the selfish, escapist fanatsy that promotes suicidal choices against life , thus falling into enemy lies and all that comes with it – our culture is in deep need of recognising the value and purpose that life here is to be lived with the sense of awe and purpose , related to the truth of Incarnation and how every single life can make a diffrence , when lived with HIm, in HIm, even here – in worship as well as through efforts at helping to bring others to The Lord through hearts that are compassionate , holy ,prayerful , even towards those who have fallen into the enemy deception that the speedy way to ? an enemy made so called heaven , is through murder /suicides wherein every ‘ virgin ‘ has 1/72 worth of what she has here !
True , it would be good to recall how every glimpse of the good here is a mere shadow of what is there
and to yearn and plead that nothing may separate us from same !
The theme of universalism and presumption of God’s mercy , as you point out , is what is also possibly contributing to the blatant support of sins against life , by even Catholic politicians .
Those in exorcism ministry mentions how God is merciful but the enemy is a legalist ;
thus, when one sides with the enemy in choices against life, is there a likelihood that even the child is not spared from the claims of the enemy and may not be in heaven so easily !
Again, those in exorcism reports of terrible , even long lasting effects on the children , from those who allowed the enemy to have a claim on the life of the child by involvement in acts in such category !
Sins against life being somehwat in similar category , not farfetched to wonder what the effects are , on the child as well, even hereafter , from any enemy claims and thus the merciful exhortataion of The Church , to entrust them to God’s mercy, which may not be an easy task for the parents who had not trusted in God’s mercy , to help them to bring up the child , in the first place and are living with the child , atleast the cells of the very baby in the body of the mother , for an indefinite period and all the sequelae from same that they go through , which are now raher well known , including anger, despair , difficulty to trust in goodness of God ( or of their own and others , thus , broken relationships ) and the varied health issues that too are well known – eating disorders, heart attacks, breast cancers , depression and so on !
The road to heaven is narrow and difficult for our fallen nature – our Lord has warned us , whereas the enemy can tempt that it is wide and easyand there for the taking ;
may the prayers of our Mother be there , to keep us and all in our lives , close to her, in the narrow path ;
she is after all, the personification of what St.Paul describes in Corinthians , on what love is – kind, patient , rejoicing in truth … never fails !
I think every Catholic, and Christian for that matter, should read a great little book called “The Happiness of Heaven” by Fr. J. Boudreau, S.J.
I have to agree that I think universalism is the reason. I think people take it for granted that everyone will go to Heaven. I do think our leaders in the Church are,in part, at fault for this with the focus on ecumenism over evangelization to the point many believe all religions are equal and there is no need for a church let alone the Church that Jesus founded, the Catholic Church. God’s mercy is talked about much as it should be but His justice should equally be talked about. In fact, Jesus speaks of the place of eternal punishment more often than He speaks of Heaven.
My oldest son told me the other day that he “wished he could just be a in heaven for 20 minutes and come back, so he could know everything he doesn’t understand.” We discuss heaven a few times a week before bed with his 2 brothers. I try to get across it is a reward earned for dealing with the trials we face during this life. Maybe I am wrong, but often I have to tell them in this life we may never understand why we suffer, it is just God’s plan to lead us to heaven if we choose to follow His plan.
We go to a diocese Extra Ordinary mass weekly. Heaven and Hell, good and evil, etc… are addressed well. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for Sunday Catechism.
Thank you Msgr. for another wonderful post that we all have come to expect.
Yes, I think that is right heaven is nor preached by priests because it is unreflectively assumed everyone is going there. But, why do most priests think that? Well it is the problem of hell. Once we/anyone is created hell can (and is) explained by God giving us free will (there are many good arguments on this that Priests are taught). But, that’s not the real problem of hell. What of the problem before any of us are created? The Church teaches/explains/ and holds that God has perfect foreknowledge of everything he creates even before he creates it. In this discussion God *knows* with certainty before he created you where you would spend eternity.
So, the difficult question is (and why many people at root believe all go to heaven) why would God (who is love itself) create a person whom he knows before the act of creation will spend eternity suffering in hell?
This topic has long been a question lurking in my life. How many of our Catholic ministries are aimed at getting souls into Heaven? We are better off when we spend more time praying and less time worrying about what somebody else has.
Now to further complicate this…. You have many priests (think of Father Barron) who teach that it is possible that no one is in hell. Father Barron and most others teach that hell has to be a real possibility (they learned their lessons well about free will and the choice of God) and they also learned “well” in seminary that they can therefore hope that no one is in hell because no one freely chose it. (which seems to avoid the problem of why would God create anyone who goes to hell – but it is only a distraction to this problem).
The Church holds dogmatically that their are rational persons in hell! Satan and his fallen angels. But wait, they don’t obviously count! Why don’t they count? I don’t know. I suspect most priests think of fallen angels as cartoon characters. The Devil is red and has horns and carries a pitchfork – hell is where he is supposed to be – it matches his outfit!
No, they “don’t count” in the concern over the fate over humanity because they are pure spirits, not human beings. Yes, they are rational creatures, but they are not human persons. Jesus suffered, died, and shed his blood for fallen human beings, not fallen angels. That’s the big difference. Jesus Incarnate is the difference. Human beings can be redeemed, fallen angels can’t.
+I . . . too . . . find Father Robert Barron’s hazy teaching regarding hell very odd . . . I love his Catholicism series . . . but his . . . at times . . . waffling. . . “disbelief” . . . approach to believing certain portions of Sacred Scripture as real is . . . quite . . . shall we say . . . disturbing . . . (to put it mildly) . . .
The portion of the Catechism of the Catholic Church below . . . clearly states . . . Sacred Scripture . . . can and should be believed on TWO (2) levels . . . NOT just one . . . it is NOT an either/or situation . . . but RATHER a . . . “BOTH/AND” . . . type of understanding that is revealed . . . with the second level of knowledge being divided up into three sublevels of perceiving revelations of truth . . . this is a Magesterial doctrinal teaching of the Catholic Church . . .
“The senses of Scripture
According to an ancient tradition, one can distinguish between TWO senses of Scripture: the LITERAL and the SPIRITUAL, the latter being subdivided into the allegorical, moral, and anagogical senses. The profound concordance of the four senses guarantees all its richness to the living reading of Scripture in the Church.”
New Testament Sacred Scripture . . . clearly reveals . . . that there are more than just fallen angels in hell . . . some people are clearly already there also . . . as is revealed in the below revelation from . . . Luke 16:19b-31 . . .
“There was a certain rich man, who was clothed in purple and fine linen; and feasted sumptuously every day.
 And there was a certain beggar, named Lazarus, who lay at his gate, full of sores,
 Desiring to be filled with the crumbs that fell from the rich man’ s table, and no one did give him; moreover the dogs came, and licked his sores.  And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’ s bosom.
And the rich man also died: and he was buried in HELL.  And lifting up his eyes when he was in torments, he saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom:  And he cried, and said: Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, to cool my tongue: for I am tormented in this flame.
 And Abraham said to him: Son, remember that thou didst receive good things in thy lifetime, and likewise Lazareth evil things, but now he is comforted; and thou art tormented.
 And besides all this, BETWEEN US AND YOU, THERE IS FIXED A GREAT CHAOS: SO THAT THEY WHO WOULD PASS FROM HENCE TO YOU, CANNOT, NOR FROM THENCE COME HITHER. 
And he said: Then, father, I beseech thee, that thou wouldst send him to my father’ s house, for I have five brethren,  That he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torments.  And Abraham said to him: They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.  But he said: No, father Abraham: but if one went to them from the dead, they will do penance.
 And he said to him: IF THEY HEAR NOT MOSES AND THE PROPHETS, NEITHER WILL THEY BELIEVE, IF ONE RISE AGAIN FROM THE DEAD.” – Luke 16:19b-31
We really need to pray for our brother priest . . . Father Barron’s . . . enlightenment . . .
“But He answered and said,
It is written,
man shall not live by bread alone, but by
that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”
. . . all for Jesus+
We live in a “fix-it” society and people believe that their health can be “fixed” so they will live as long as possible. We hide death and the sense of it being a natural end is lost. If you long for heaven, you have to admit that you are actually going to die one day. This is frightening to many people.
Either last fall or the fall before, I remember a similar post. It was a particularly beautiful day, and I have to say when the sky is so blue and the sun shining so brightly, my eternal reward is not the first thing on my mind. I am simply thankful for God’s goodness. However, it is important for us to remember that we will have to ultimately make a choice for God or against. I pray that I am brave enough to choose God all of my life. I fear that the enemy is very seductive, and I will be led astray. The path to God is steep, narrow and winding, but the path to perdition is wide and easy. Thank you Msgr for continuing to preach to us and remind us of our heavenly Father.
“there is a serious problem with universalism wherein it is assumed that almost everyone is going straight to Heaven when he dies.”
Not all universalists believe that. In fact, I think many if not most of them believe that a lengthy period of purgation is required before entry to heaven.
I think Heaven or Hell has already begun in us and continues after we die. Heaven is given free at Baptism but if we commit mortal sin we lose it and that’s when Hell begins.As long as we are still alive we can still choose.
Let’s not forget someone else who is in hell, Judas. (John 17:12)
12 While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.
I think loss of concern with heaven tallies with the loss of a sense of sin. Even in the Church there are those who think sin really isn’t all that big of a deal–God understands, etc. I don’t know how that is reconciled with St. Teresa of Avila who discoursed on even the deep offensiveness to God of venial sin. Recently I heard someone discussing St. Maximilian Kolbe before he and the other nine prisoners went into the starvation bunker. I paraphrase: “Brothers, do not hate the Nazis. They have purchased your ticket to heaven. let us go and pray and sing hymns and prepare ourselves for our journey.” Makes me think of the account above of St. Cyprian. Heaven and Hell are very real to those who are sincerely living the Gospel. I also think that the closer we draw to Jesus (especially in the Blessed Sacrament) the more real the Four Last Things become and the more we agonize for our loved ones who don’t believe in Hell or God or sin or eternal separation from God.
In 60 plus years of weekly Mass attendance, I can remember only one sermon that dealt with heaven. Its not a recent trend that there is no preaching about heaven. Why it is so, I have no idea. Universalism is more of a recent idea.
I believe there will be great joy in heaven – a joy like little children have when playing and discovering together without a worry in the world and knowing that they are loved and cared for and all that they need is provided them without even asking, since Father and Mother know best what their children need, and the children do not need to worry about that.
I had forgotten about that. It is good to remember that scene. 🙂
I’ve found that the Protestants talk about the glories of heaven much more. They even know scripturally what it looks like and presumably even believe it, in a Catholic world where such descriptions are dismissed as metaphoric. That has been my experience. It’s also part of what’s drawing me to the Protestant tradition–this hope is a truth I haven’t found in the Catholic intellectual, professional, and social circles I’m a part of. It’s not preached about because Catholics are taught to disbelieve what is written about it in the Bible. “Oh, it’s a symbol only, “Oh, we don’t really know.”
Amid experiencing great, great heaviness in my life, I have not found spiritual hope offered in the Catholic spiritual tradition. Yet in the Protestant tradition they both take up God’s promises for healing and deliverance and proclaim and believe (!) In what the Bible says about heaven.
I think the Catholic culture has become too materialist, skeptical, and disbelieving. How will that bring hope and healing to a wounded world. It ought believe a bit “more” literally in the written Word of God.
As for me, I look forward to seeing the river that flows from the throne of God; the cherubim who move about in all directions, without ever moving their heads; the four creatures who are before the throne of God; the golden streets of heaven almost of glass; the sea that looks as it were made of crystal; all the saints throwing down their crowns before the throne of God; this visible, almost tangible glory of God; the seven angels who are always before the throne of God. And more.
It has to be made real in our minds before we can hope for it. And for it to be made real in our minds we have to be willing to believe what’s been written about it.
Perhaps the circles in which you delve are too technical for you and you rely upon them instead of the inspirations which can come to you through drawing closer to the Holy Spirit in prayer and trust.
Look for more Catholic literature on the subject of Heaven. Find out what the saints and others have written and look for other traditional books. Stay away from the overly technical books about Heaven (those written by theologians who lean too much toward reason and technicalities and do not give enough credit to their faith and the inspiration they receive from the Holy Spirit [which, perhaps, could entail risk to their theological careers if they put their inspirations in writing]).
Here are some Catholic titles which may be helpful for you:
“The Happiness of Heaven: The Joys and Rewards of Eternal Glory”
By Fr. J. Boudreau, S.J.
“What The Saints Said About Heaven: 101 Holy Insights on Everlasting Life”
By Ronda Chervin, Richard Ballard & Ruth Ballard
Also, just because you don’t hear a lot preached about Heaven in your Catholic surroundings does not mean that Heaven is any different in a Protestant setting. Heaven is Heaven no matter whether you are Catholic or Protestant. The Catholic Church brings much more wisdom on the subject of the process of getting to Heaven.
Ask your Pastor to give adult classes on Heaven! He is normally going to give homilies on the Scripture readings for the day (which shortens opportunities to discuss Heaven). But he can really give you some good inspiration through catechesis outside of the Mass. Ask. 🙂
One of the priests in my parish (i am from Singapore) preached that because God is love, regardless of one’s status, all will be in heaven; and on the day Osama died, he told the congregation that “today he is in heaven”. He forgot or isn’t aware that though God is Love, not all love is God.
Thank you Msgn for an excellent piece. The only place it seems that Catholics can ‘hear’ about the four last things, and the HOPE of Heaven is online. Never hear it from the Pulpit……NEVER. And now if our Priests and Bishops follow the lead of our Holy Father, we will surely never hear it. We hear about the poor, we hear about how to make our lives better, but we hear NOTHING of where we are actually going. Of course we are to take care of the poor, that is one of the central commands of Our Lord, but our eyes should be on spending eternity with Our Lord. What happened to the ‘Prize’ that St. Paul talks about? The ultimate goal. Seems that the Church, especially now, is only interested in the ‘here and now’. The Church and I have increasingly opposite perspectives at least the perspectives that come from a good number of our Priests. I will NEVER leave the Church…… not the ‘true Church’. My goal is to get to Heaven and take as many people with me as I possibly can. Maybe to this ‘new Church’ this is a selfish attitude. The Pope seemed to put down ‘Rosary Counters’ as he put it, but I am proud to be a ‘Rosary Counter’. The old devotions are oxygen for the soul, but for some strange reason, they don’t see it that way.
TLM, how do you intend to reach this goal: “My goal is to get to Heaven and take as many people with me as I possibly can.”?
I serve as a chaplain in palliative care. This is a discussion I often have with patients at end-of-life, those who know and rejoice that they are going Home. How glorious! I thank you for this challenging and necessary piece. I have shared it with many already and will continue to do so. May God bless you in His perfect peace.
Todays Mass reading( for Friday September 19th) brought me to reflect back on this post. First reading is 1Corinthians15:12-20. Verse 19, “If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are the most pitiable people of all.” Thank you Msgr. for the reminder to keep our eyes fixed on THE prize.
+… and a LITTLE CHILD shall lead them. – Isaiah 11:6
Just a little note of “heavenly” encouragement . . . I don’t know how many souls are actually . . . “longing” . . . for our . . . Wonderful GOD’S . . . heaven . . . in this day and age . . . but the Thomas Nelson Publishing House can most certainly attest to the . . . quite marvelous . . . fact of life . . . that . . . millions upon millions of people are apparently . . . very . . . VERY . . . interested the subject of heaven . . .
Since its release in November 2010 the little book . . . “HEAVEN IS FOR REAL: A LITTLE BOY’S ASTOUNDING STORY OF HIS TRIP TO HEAVEN AND BACK” . . . (by Todd Burpo with Lynn Vincent) . . . has become an . . . extraordinary . . . world-wide . . . heretofore unknown publishing phenomenon for the publishing house . . . selling millions upon millions upon millions of copies . . . Practically everyone I know . . . professionally and personally . . . has read this book . . . and I literally can’t ever remember a time when such was ever the case before . . .
“Over the past three (plus) years, “Heaven Is for Real” reached No. 1 on the following lists: “The New York Times”, “USA Today”, “The Wall Street Journal”, “Publisher’s Weekly”, National Public Radio, Christian Booksellers Association (CBA) and Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA). In addition to being ranked near the top on numerous best seller lists, Thomas Nelson has printed the eight millionth copy of the acclaimed title.”
Internet link: http://www.harpercollinschristian.com/2013/11/heaven-is-for-real-best-seller-sits-on-the-new-york-times-list-for-three-consecutive-years/
In addition to the book’s success . . . which includes . . . STAYING . . . over three years plus on the New York Times Top Ten Nonfiction Best Sellers List . . . the quietly distributed beautiful little low-budget movie based on the book has had a similar phenomenal success . . . way outdistancing . . . in popularity and longevity . . . several multimillion dollar-much-advertised blockbuster movies that came out at the same time . . .
I have to come to love the . . . enchanting . . . colorful . . . children’s . . . illustrated . . . “companion” . . . book . . . which the illustrator drew under the child . . . Colton’s . . . direction . . . (and the children in our family have warmly embraced the book) . . . It’s become a marvelous open door for teaching the wondrous living reality of our Triune God and the wonders of heaven . . . while grounding these understandings solidly in Sacred Scripture and Church teaching . . .
Just one little sadness . . . there was just one thing that was missing in the movie that I really felt should have been there . . . that was little four year old Colton’s . . . VERY concerned . . . response re persons close to death and regarding funerals of those who had passed away . . . being that the individual . . . absolutely . . . “HAD TO” . . . have . . . JESUS . . . our Blessed Saviour . . . in his/her heart . . . or they wouldn’t/couldn’t go to GOD’S wonderful heaven . . . talk about evangelism! . . . Colton’s parents had to begin compassionately shielding him from funerals and such . . . because his loving concern for these souls was so great . . .
“Amen I say to you, whosoever shall NOT receive the kingdom of God as a LITTLE CHILD, shall NOT enter into it. – Mark 10:15
. . . all for Jesus+
This is when I am so grateful for my parish, where we hear sermons on moral topics and the longing for heaven.
Thank you very much Msgr. I love this post! I find the older I get the more I long for Heaven. I go to Mass at a parish that is an older church that reminds me of Heaven, and the Communion of Saints, just as you stated in your article.God bless you.
I think a good part of it is simply that our lives here are so much easier and filled with so much more material ease than previous generations. I mean, when half your babies die in front of your face, and every day is filled with sorrow, physical hardship, and suffering from the unknown (very little was known about diseases and their cause, for example), it’s only natural that death would seem a happy release and that heaven would be on people’s minds. Not to mention that life spans were a heck of a lot shorter.
Today I crawl into my safe warm, bed every night, cuddle with my best friend and husband of 23 years, and give thanks to God my children are all healthy, warm, well-fed, and (relatively) safe. I also look forward to getting up the next morning, because overall, my life is good. I am blessed, I know it, and I thank God for it. But I don’t think too much about Heaven in my everyday life, quite honestly.
In your two blogposts about premarital sex and homosexual acts, you referred to a number of quotations from Scripture. It might be of interest to see how many of these are read at Sunday Masses (ie. The ones which all Catholics are required to attend.).
Eph 5:3-7 (No Sundays)
Rev 21:5-8 (Week Five of Eastertide Year C: Rev 21 1:5 is read. Omits key verse 8)
Rev 22: 14-16 (Week 7 of Eastertide Year C: Rev 22:12-14 and Rev 22: 16-17, 20. Omits key verse 15.)
Eph 5: 5 (No Sundays)
Gal 5: 16-21 (Pentecost Year B: Gal 5:16-25)
Matt 5: 27-30 (Week 6, Ordinary Time Year A: Matt 5:17-37)
Matt 15: 19-20 (No Sundays)
Mark 7:21 (Week 22, Ordinary Time Year B: Mark 7:21-23)
Col 3:5-6 (Week 18 Ordinary Time Year C: Col 3:1-5 and 9:11. Omits key verse 6)
1 Cor 6:9-11 (No Sundays)
1 Cor 6:15-20 (Week 2 Ordinary Time Year B: 1 Cor 6:13-15 and 17-20. Omits verse 16 which refers to sex with a prostitute.)
1 Thess 4:1-8 (No Sundays)
1 Tim 1:8-11 (No Sundays)
Heb 13:4 (No Sundays)
As far as the scriptural quotations in the blogpost about homosexuality are concerned none of them is ever read on a Sunday.
Thus, using the readings at Sunday Mass,, priests have very limited opportunities to preach using the Scriptural quotations mentioned by Msgr Pope.
Indeed, and even when they DO occur, the word porneia is rendered merely as “immorality” I have passed this on to a member of the Bishop’s doctrine committee for consideration as the Lectionary is reviewed.
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