Longing for heaven

Gerald found, via First Things, a beautiful quote from Christoph Cardinal Schönborn:

Something very strange has taken place in recent years: Christians have lost touch with heaven. Of the desire for heaven, our “heavenly home,” we hear hardly a word. It is as if Christians have lost the orientation that for centuries defined the direction of our journey. We have forgotten that we are pilgrims and that the goal of our pilgrimage is heaven. Connected with this is another loss: we largely lack the awareness that we are on a dangerous pilgrim path and it is possible for us to miss our goal. To put it bluntly, we do not long for heaven; we take it for granted that we will get there. This diagnosis may be exaggerated, but I am afraid it is essentially true.

I do not think, based on the state of the Church, at least in our diocese, that the cardinal’s diagnosis is exaggerated at all. Take a look down at the essay by my pastor that I posted last night. In it, he essentially denies the need for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Why might that be? If we start taking heaven for granted–that we’re all “good people” with “good hearts,” and despite our “slipping up” we still “love God” so we’ll “end up in Heaven”–then the logical response is to deny that the Sacraments, in the end, have any utility at all beyond helping us along an already predetermined path. How dare we deny the Eucharist to people we know to be in mortal sin? It’s offensive to them, and we aren’t endangering them anyway. For that matter, all sin is sin, and God forgives me, so I can go receive it any time I want. If there is no danger of mortality, then there’s no need to categorize anything as a mortal sin.

In the end, I think a lot of us are practical atheists. We don’t really believe in anything beyond this life–at least in the historical Christian version of the afterlife–because if we did, then we would be radically changing the way we live. Instead, we believe that anything that causes grief, sadness, pain, anguish, suffering in our lives here and now is bad. That’s why my pastor was unable to see past sentiment into truth. In an honorable desire to help a mother grieving over the loss of a child, he equivocates because to tell the truth of the matter, that we should be praying that her daughter not be in Hell rather than presuming her salvation, would be to offend modern sensibilities that everyone will be saved. God is the great, indulgent father in the sky who loves us as we are.

If God is as one would conclude from what I hear from the pulpit, then I fear we’ve been misled for 2,000 years and the Bible is just a fairytale. Why bother to long for heaven when it’s already in the bag?


1 Response to “Longing for heaven”

  1. 1 Jeni June 9, 2006 at 10:44 pm

    The first blog posted is exactly what I have been , in many ways, pondering.

    Today I watched Padre Pio:Miracle Man. Frank and his cousin are watching it as I type and as I listen to the music and I hear Saint Pio cry out in pain as the devil attacks him, I am aware how weak, how fragile and how very useless I am. I beleive this is something that is lost today on most Americans. How dare you say I am nothing, how dare you say I am weak! Because we are arrogant and without humility, we take Heaven for granted. I am Catholic ( or my Grandparents were Catholic I’ll just ride to Heaven on their coat tails), this is the general attitude.

    What is being Catholic if the inner life does not change? What is being Christian if a deep love and desire for Christ does not dwell within you? Oh, to be united to my Groom for eternity. This is what I strive for. To show God my children and to tell Him, ” Here, here are the souls I suffered and toiled for. Have them, take them Home to be with You.”

    So often weakness overtakes me, and I allow myself to slip into mediocrity. God preserve me from this. May the Devil attack me, may I suffer tremendously, but save me O God from being lukewarm.

    What is there in this life if we do not have God? No hope, no peace. I would rather the devil beat me daily, then to be without God. I beleive many times I do not offer myself to God as I should because I fear. I fear what the devil can do to my body, I fear what God may require of me. Padre Pio feared also, but he accepted, though with tears, the cross of Jesus Christ.

    This is what a life with God has to offer. Suffering, pain, heartache and the greatest peace man will ever know. I beleive this is one of the reasons many do not long for Heaven. We do not want to suffer. We do not want to pay the price. We desire only to be told what our ears want to hear. As the Sacred Scripture says, we want our ears tickled.

    Oh, to be like the saints. To have the courage to endure. My God, how I long for Thee. How my souls desires to be united fully with Thee. If only all souls would feel this burning passion in their bosom. If only my soul were strong enough to endure the flame. Jesus, My Sweet Jesus, help your weak children. So often we stray, so often we neglect you My God who art worthy of all our love. Help us Oh God, to long for Heaven, to never be satisfied until all souls know that joy. Saint Pio, you who never judged, pray for us.

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