Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Getting into heaven.

The Catechism Lesson by Jules-Alexis Muenier

This is scary.

Have you ever heard non-religious people say things like; "God!  Is that all those people do is talk about religion?"  I'm religious and even I said that on occasion - so you know it is okay to say stuff like that when you disagree with the people you are talking about, or they've excluded you from the conversation.  What? (Kidding)

Anyway - I'm talking about those people: family members, friends, co-workers and others who just don't want anything to do with religion or religious people, and though spiritual, they have no time for religious practice.  How boring.  "Only fanatics go to Mass every day and pray and talk about God all the time.  What a bore."

Early, early on in my conversion - I hate to say how long ago, but it was 40 years this year - as I was getting out of bed one morning, I heard a distinct interior voice say to me, "Pray.  Pray without ceasing, this is how you will attain eternal life."  It has been my quest ever since.  Even when good people say to me things like, "You spend too much time praying."  Or, "For someone who prays all the time, you're still as screwed up as ever."  While all that is true - I tell them, "Just imagine how bad I'd be if I didn't."

Some people just can't be bothered however.

This morning in Magnificat, the meditation for the day's reading is from Blessed Cardinal Newman, discussing this subject - much better than I can, of course.  He points out how a irreligious man wouldn't even want to be in heaven, saying:
 "If then a man without religion were admitted into heaven, doubtless he would sustain a great disappointment.  Before, indeed, he fancied that he could be happy there; but when he arrived there, he would find no discourse but that which he has shunned on earth, no pursuits but those he disliked or despised... he would perceive himself to be an isolated being... he would be in the presence of that Supreme Power, whom he could never on earth could bring himself steadily to think upon, and whom now he regarded only as the destroyer of all that was precious and dear to him.  Ah! he could never bear the face of God; the Holy one would be no object of joy to him.  'Let us alone!  What have we to do with you?' is the sole thought and desire of unclean souls, even while they acknowledge his majesty." - Cardinal Newman
 'Let us alone! What have we to do with you?'  That is scary.

Anticipating heaven.

Pray, pray, pray.  However you know how, wherever you are.  Never give up prayer, no matter what state you are in.  The rosary is a sure way of ceaseless prayer.  The morning offering ensures that everything we do is a prayer and a sacrifice throughout the day, as the Catechism states:  "He "prays without ceasing" who unites prayer to works and good works to prayer. Only in this way can we consider as realizable the principle of praying without ceasing."  And, "It is possible to offer fervent prayer even while walking in public or strolling alone, or seated in your shop, . . . while buying or selling, . . . or even while cooking."

I would suggest that frequent spiritual communion throughout the day sustains us in the presence of God and teaches us how to be recollected in our occupations.  These things I recommend to those who do not go to daily Mass, and even those who may be caught in the habit of sin. "Prayer is the trap door out of sin."  Never give up prayer.

Artists like to quote Dostoevsky, or is it Solzhenitsyn, who wrote, "beauty will save the world".  What few realize is that the true beauty, the essential beauty, or the 'love of beauty' is what the monastic fathers called prayer.  As the Catechism affirms: "Still others exalt sensuality and comfort as the criteria of the true, the good, and the beautiful; whereas prayer, the "love of beauty" (philokalia), is caught up in the glory of the living and true God. Finally, some see prayer as a flight from the world in reaction against activism; but in fact, Christian prayer is neither an escape from reality nor a divorce from life."

Prayer is our heaven on earth.


  1. oh Terry thank you so much. that is excellent teaching. I most especially appreciate prayer as the love of beauty ! how easy that makes prayer of all of God's creation, His vast goodness and mercy. Lou

  2. "...whereas prayer, the "love of beauty" (philokalia), is caught up in the glory of the living and true God. "

    True, so true. Wonder if this explains how some can delight in beauty found everywhere, and others only under certain conditions, their personal conditions.

    It also explains your art, Terry. :)

  3. With regards to family making a fuss over, "talking too much religion," it happens all the time, even when I'm hardly talking about it.

    Here's the issue: Either our faith revolves around family life, or family life revolves around the faith. Of course, if we truly believe there is a God, then we should act like it. Everything we do should be in the context of that belief. When we were, "of the world," we didn't understand these things. The more we let go of the world, the less it understands us.

    1. I always hear things like, "You Catholics... " And "Religion is the source of all of our problems." In addition to, "Get a life." haha!

  4. Anonymous6:36 PM

    Beautiful post.

  5. Or the "fanatic" label. And it can even come from members of the religous! Like when a nun warned that if I did not become more "normal" I would become a fanatic...


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