As the calendar turns to November, we are faced with daunting question of where we will end up in the life to come. The two great feasts that are celebrated — All Saints’ Day and the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (commonly All Souls’ Day) — give us a stark reminder that this world is not all that there is.
We have a destiny that awaits in heaven, should we open ourselves to receive what Our Lord promises to give. The goal as we examine these two feasts is to be eventually included in the prior feast of All Saints, while trusting in God’s mercy during that time we are in the latter feast! But it always strikes me as to how do we get there? Obviously, it is through Christ, as “He is the Way, the Truth and the Life,” and “no one comes to the Father except through me.” Great! But what are the practical implications of these two statements?
In my work with young people, I have seen what can happen when there is a real encounter with the person of Jesus Christ. Their lives are transformed and they are set on a trajectory of faith that is not necessarily easy, but is life giving. Now the question has moved from the practical implications to how do we actually achieve this vision of unity with Christ? It is an easy thing to say in reality, but a much harder challenge to play out in the real world.
A new friend of mine summarized this idea in such a profound way, 1 had to share it here: It is not enough for the Catholic to take the Scripture and the living tradition of the church seriously; the Catholic must also take them personally. We must take the teachings of the church and the living word of God personally. When Jesus is speaking throughout the Scriptures, when the believer comes to Him in Mass, adoration, prayer, study, contemplation, it is Christ speaking to the heart, mind and soul of that person. The reality is that for as much as we must also be concerned about the salvation of our brothers and sisters in Christ (and even the salvation of those who do not know Christ), our primary concern is our own salvation, our own unity with Christ.
This is, I think, part of the secret that the saints wish to share with us. They gave all, each in his or her own way, for Christ; and now they exist as our intercessors and guides so that we do not walk this path of holiness alone, but their prayers for us are helping our salvation now, our call to holiness, our call to greatness in Christ.
Let us strive ever more eagerly to be united to Him in all things, so that He might continue to draw us deeper to himself. Then, hopefully, one day, we might share the vision of heaven, no longer veiled through human senses, but as it truly is. What glory awaits in the life to come!
By Father Schnippel is the director of the archdiocesan Vocations Office. http://thecatholictelegraph.com
Commentary, The Catholic Telegraph November, 2013