Tag Archives: heaven

A Beautiful Reunion

I am a very visual person and the imagery associated with the mysteries of the Rosary  helps to deepen my prayer life and my faith.  This morning as I meditated on the Assumption of Mary into Heaven, I was struck with a beautiful image.  I’ve often thought of what a joyous occasion it would be for Mary to again see her Son in the glory of Heaven. The immense love, peace, and joy is beyond our comprehension.

I pictured our Blessed Mother running with joy to meet her Son.  The rising sun reflected off the snow outside my window enhanced my imagination as I pictured brilliant whites, golden yellows, and rosy hues of pink surrounding Our Lady and my God.  There was such joy in the eyes of Jesus and Mary and they both had enormous smiles on their faces as Jesus wrapped His mother in His loving arms and they were locked in an embrace of such deep love and joy to be reunited.  The image was so beautiful and vivid while still remaining dreamlike in a sense.  I smiled to myself as I imagined the joy of meeting Christ face to face.

I thought then of the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32).  The joy of the father as he greeted his son who had gone astray is so evident in this story.  I can imagine the relief the son must have felt as receiving such a welcoming.

As I thought on these two images, I found myself identifying with each.  While I strive to live my life in as Christ-like a manner as possible, I am still a sinner.  Despite knowing the sacrifice my Lord made for me, I continually find myself seeking out His forgiveness.  Like the prodigal son, I feel such a relief at the grace our Almighty Father exhibits towards us all.  When I participate in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, I feel the peace and forgiveness of the Lord wash over me.  When I receive Him in Holy Communion, I feel His arms wrap around me in a loving embrace.

While the prodigal son reminds me of where I have been, the sins I have committed, and the ultimate forgiveness of Christ, the Assumption of Our Blessed Mother reminds me of where I want to go and what it is I strive for.  I know I am a sinner.  I know I have made mistakes and fall short of my heavenly call.  How I long to live a life like Mary.  Tp be perfectly obedient to the will of the Lord even when it is beyond my understanding.  To be such a loving and faithful wife, mother, and follower of Christ.  To be able to accept all the trials that come my way with the knowledge that God has a plan for me.  I strive to have the faith and wisdom to echo Mary’s resounding “Yes!” to the Lord when He calls to me.

I know that I have failed at times.  And I know that despite my faults, my God has forgiven me.  But one look at the cross reminds me that my sins came at a price and that price was lovingly paid by my Savior at Calvary.  I do not want to continue to be the prodigal son.  I want to be like Mary.  I do not want to receive forgiveness only to rich back into sin.  I know that no matter how many tomes I falter, Christ will still welcome me home.  But seeing the love He has so freely given, I want to cease all sinful behavior and be a better example of His love.  

I am the prodigal son, yes; but I long to be like Our Lady.  I am a sinner; but I strive to be a saint.  I cannot get there without the love, grace, and forgiveness of God.   It fills me with joy and peace to picture the beautiful reunion to Mary in Heaven with the Lord.  My soul finds hope in that, by God’s endless love and mercy, we one day will meet Him in all His glory and share in that beautiful and loving reunion of Jesus our Savior, His Blessed Mother Mary, and all the Angels in Saints in Heaven for all eternity.

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The Message of the Ashes

Crossofashes

Cross of Ashes – Wikipedia

Today is Ash Wednesday and marks the beginning of the Lenten season.  Throughout the season of Lent, we are called to place more attention on fasting, prayer, and almsgiving.  In short, we are called to grow closer to God.  The ashes we receive on our foreheads today at Mass signify that “we are dust and to dust we shall return.”  It is a reminder that we are sinners and that everything in our world here will one day be gone, even our earthly bodies.  But through Christ, we know that we have been saved and although the worldly things around us fade, we have the promise of eternity in Heaven with Jesus because of His sacrifice for us.  The ashes may be just for today, but the message they hold should go forward with us into Lent.

By fasting and giving up things we enjoy, we partake in small sacrifices.  In this way, we acknowledge the sacrifice our Lord made for us and we also remember that it is not the things of this world that matter.  Only Christ can bring us peace and the love He has will truly last forever.  It only makes sense, then, that we place our focus on Him!  By fasting, abstaining from meat, and giving up foods or habits, we recognize that our time and energy is best spent on our relationship with the Lord.

In addition to fasting, we are called to almsgiving.  The message of the ashes speaks to us again as we are reminded that the wealth we have here on earth means nothing.  Jesus tells us not to worry about money or how we will eat or what we will wear (Matthew 6:25-34) because He will provide.  Therefore, we should be willing to give of our time and money as much as we are able. In this way, we remove our focus from the wealth of this world, which will eventually turn to dust and ashes, and instead place our focus on sharing the love of Christ.

During Lent we are called to spend more time in prayer with the Lord.  The ashes we receive remind us that our goal is eternity with Him.  Although we are sinners, we do not need to live in fear and sorrow because Christ has overcome death for us!  The deep and profound love our Lord has for us should make us yearn to spend as much time with Him as we can while we are here on earth waiting to meet Him in Heaven.  We can commit to spending more time in prayer by participating in retreats, attending Mass more frequently, reading the Bible more, spending time with the Lord in Adoration, participating in the Sacraments, etc.  Through an increase in our prayer lives, we become more of the person God is calling us to be.   We grow closer to God and are better able to share His love with others when we are continuing to go deeper and deeper into our own relationship with Him.

The ashes we receive at Mass today will wash off and be gone by tomorrow.  But as we begin this season of Lent, let us pray that their message carries us through Lent.  The material things of this world will perish, but the love of our Lord will never die.   He has given Himself for us so that we too might live forever with all the angels and Saints in Heaven with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

A Greater Goal

With the Olympics in full swing, everyone  is watching as elite athletes from all around the world compete.  These athletes have trained, hoped, and dreamed of this day for most of their lives.  It is everything they have wished for.  Some athletes become so obsessed with their Olympic goals, that once the games have come and gone, they find themselves at a loss.  What now?  Where do you go once your ultimate goal has been realized?  And what do you do if you find that you failed?

The answer to that question applies to all of us.  Any time we place an earthly goal ahead of our Heavenly goal, we will be disappointed.  We can work our whole lives towards a gold medal, that perfect house, or our dream jobs.  But if we place those dreams and goals ahead of the most important goal, what is it really all about?

 “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14

Our ultimate goal in life should be to live as Christ lived.  To follow God’s will wherever it takes us.  To spread the love of Jesus to everyone.  To one day see our God face to face in Heaven and to spend our eternity with our loving Father.  That is a treasure far more important than any gold medal, fancy new car, or promotion at work.  Jesus Christ is the goal that we seek.  When we seek Him first, everything else falls into place.

“But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33

When Christ is our focus and His kingdom is our primary goal in life, we do not need to worry about what will happen next.  When we reach our earthly goals, we should first praise Him who enabled us to do so!  And when we find that we have fallen short of a promotion at work or that coveted gold medal, we only need to go to Him who gives us strength and know that we have a higher purpose and a greater goal.

“Let us go forward in peace, our eyes upon heaven, the only one goal of our labors.” St. Therese of Lisieux

**Speaking of athletes and goals…my sister is a professional runner who dedicates her life to running for more than just a win.  Read about her journey to run for Christ on her blog notrunning4awin

An Advent Poem

Waiting

Waiting with joy
With hope
With great anticipation.

Waiting for peace.
Waiting for Love
Waiting for Joy.

We wait

For loved ones to come home.
For wars to end.
For peace on earth.
For romance.
For love.
For new life.

We wait.

To be together.
To laugh together
To cry together
To remember the past
To look forward to the future
To celebrate.

We Wait.

To celebrate our blessings
Our togetherness
Our hopes
Our dreams.

To celebrate a Baby.
A Baby born in Bethlehem
Many years ago.

A beautiful little Baby
So small
So precious
So innocent
So glorious.

A Baby to warm our hearts
To show us the way
To bring us peace
And love
And joy.

A Baby to bring us everlasting life.

Waiting with joy
To celebrate the Baby
The precious Baby Jesus
The very Son of God.

We wait.

Waiting with hope
With great anticipation
For Him to come again
In all His glorious majesty.

Waiting to share
In His everlasting peace
His everlasting love
His everlasting joy

With our loved ones
With the Angels
With the Saints.

With our Father
With His Son
With the Holy Spirit

Together forever
In the never-ending love
Everlasting Peace
Endless Beauty
Overflowing Joy

The joy of the Lord
Surrounded with His love
Forever and Ever in Heaven
All because of a Baby.

We wait.

Animals in Heaven?

We all know that we are loved by God and that we are called to show our love for Him through our day to day actions.  We all know that we are loved by people here on earth and that we love them as well.  I believe, and I’m sure many of you would agree, that there is another close bond of love that many of us experience and it is not with another human being at all.  Many people have pets and over time come to think of and refer to their pets as a part of the family.  While at first this may seem silly to some, I believe it is a show of love that is just as real while being expressed in a different way. 

God created all creatures big and small.  Before sin entered the world in the Garden of Eden, all animals lived in harmony with Adam and Eve.  During the flood, we see that God valued the life of all the animals enough to have two of each species saved along with Noah and his family.  Animals may not have souls in the same way that human beings do, but I do believe that they know God.  They do not have the same rational thinking methods as we do, and do not have the same ability to choose to sin or follow God.  We believe that when we die, our souls depart from the body and are taken up to Heaven until the end of the world when our bodies will be resurrected.  It is this belief that leads many to the conclusion that because an animal does not have the same form of soul, they will not be in heaven.  While we do not have a concrete answer on this, I believe that animals are taken care of after they die. 

Even though they may not have the same souls as people, we read in the Bible that all creation will praise God’s name.  In Psalm 148 all creation is summoned to praise the Lord.  Psalm 148:10 specifically mentions “animals wild and tame, you creatures that crawl and fly.”  Isaiah talks about the peace and harmony that will come when the world is recreated.  We read in Isaiah 11:6-9

“The wolf will be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; The calf and the young lion shall browse together, with a little child to guide them.  The cow and the bear shall be neighbors, together they shall rest;  the lion shall eat hay like the ox.  The baby shall play by the cobra’s den, and the child lay his hand on the adder’s lair.  There shall be no harm or ruin on my holy mountain; for the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, as water covers the sea.”

Clearly this passage is depicting the ultimate peace that is to come when Christ comes again.  Some may say that the animals mentioned are only mentioned in a metaphorical light, but I believe they are mentioned because they are a part of God’s creation and as such will be taken care of by Him.   

Animals are able to care.  They have the ability, on some level, to care for each other and for humans and to show love and respect.  Often you hear of an animal that “adopts” another animal, even of a different species.  Animals help out humans in a variety of ways and they certainly show their devotion to us as well.  Think of the ass and the colt that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on during Palm Sunday (Matthew 21:1-7.)  Jesus had two specific animals in mind to help Him on his entry into Jerusalem.  Does it not stand to reason that because these animals were chosen by Him and served Him faithfully they would be taken care of by Him as well?  God knows when even the small sparrow falls to the ground and dies (Matthew 10:29.)He looks after the animals and the love that humans have for animals to relate His love and care for us.  Jesus tells us parables about how lovingly and with what devotion a shepherd will search for even one stray sheep.  Jesus knew that the bond we share with animals is strong and real and He used it to help show us the devotion He has to each one of us.

None of us know for sure what will happen when our beloved pets and animals die.  But I believe that in some way they are taken care of.  Whether it is the same Heaven that we wait to meet God in…or whether they go to their own “Garden of Eden”…or whether they are waiting until Christ comes again to live in peace once more…I don’t know.  I do know that God created all the animals and has saved them from destruction in the past.  I know that the Bible says all creation will glorify the Lord, including nature and animals.  And I know that when we hear peace described in the Bible, it is described with the presence of our beloved animals there. My husband and I have an adorable little puggle.  She is certainly a part of our family and shows us unconditional love and devotion.  We love her and in return she helps to protect us and to be there when she senses we are feeling down.  And I have had many pets over the years that have since passed.  While I may not know if they are in Heaven, I believe that wherever they are, they are taken care of by the angels of the Lord and are being rewarded for their unconditional love while they were here with us on earth.

To Never Grow Up

One of my favorite stories is that of Peter Pan.  I don’t know that it was a favorite as a child.  In fact, as a child I don’t know that I paid much attention to Peter Pan.  I had seen the Disney cartoon, I knew who Tinkerbell was, and I knew the storyline.  But as I grew up I became more and more interested in the story.  I had the opportunity to play Wendy in the musical version on stage and that is when I truly fell in love with the story.  And the more I thought about the story, the more I loved it not only for the silly make-believe, the fairies, the pirates, but for the lessons that are hidden in between.

If you asked someone what Peter Pan is about, they might say many different things, but they will most certainly mention that Peter will never grow up.  What a concept, to never grow up.  Of course in the story Peter mentions not wanting to grow up and have to do boring grown up things, having to wear a tie, “to go to school and learn solemn things”, and so on.  But I believe it goes deeper than that.  There is a child inside all of us that we never want to lose.  A part of us never does want to grow up.  And a part of us never should.  Of course we all do grow up.  We have to grow and mature to face the challenges that arise in our lives.  But there is a child like innocence we should always strive to maintain.

Jesus talks about having faith like a child.  The faith that a child has is so complete, there is no room for doubt.  In Peter Pan this child like faith leads to believing in mermaids and fairies and pirates that are chased by crocodiles with ticking clocks inside of them.  In our lives this childlike faith should be leading to our Lord.  We are all children of God.  As His children, we should trust in Him completely. 

Children are amazed by the smallest things.  They find delight in things that adults often grumble about.  While a child runs outside to pick dandelions as a flower bouquet, adults will grumble about the weeds cluttering their lawn.  While children run outside with excitement to play in the snow, adults will gripe about the road conditions, the shoveling, and how much longer until spring?  Children don’t worry about money, about bills, about cars.  They don’t worry about jobs, loans, food.  They enjoy life and trust that everything they need will be taken care of.  Even children faced with hardships seem to find something to be happy about.   Children play make-believe.  They imagine adventures so grand and extravagant and get lost in their own world.

Somewhere along the line, we grow up.  We lose the ability to get lost in our imaginations.  We stop believing in fairy tales.  What else do we stop believing in though?  Perhaps we stop believing in fairies, but what about our Lord’s angels?  We may not believe in Peter Pan flying through the air to defeat Captain Hook, but do we believe in the truth that the goodness of God can overcome all evil?   We may not imagine far off worlds and pretend we are there where everything is perfect and wonderful.  But what about believing in the one true place where everything is perfect and wonderful beyond even our wildest imagination. Heaven.  Do we as adults yearn to be in heaven with our Lord?   When Peter is caught up in a particularly dangerous adventure he says, “To die would be an awfully big adventure.” How do we look at death?  As the end and something to be mourned and dreaded?  Or as a wonderful adventure into heaven with our God?

Peter Pan lived in a world where he never grew up.  Where fairies are born as babies laugh and where happy thoughts can make you fly to places you could never dream of.  As adults we must mature and take on the responsibilities that come our way.  But we need to remember to have that inner child with us always.  To trust in God as our Heavenly Father to care for us and watch over us always.  We must remember never to be afraid of the dark because our Father is always there and is brighter than any darkness.  We must remember to find beauty and joy in the simplest of things, and to believe with all our hearts in the goodness that God has given us and the wonders He has in store.