Maybe it is because of the especially cold and snowy winter that I find my thoughts turned lately towards summer. I love the long days, warm weather, free time and vacation that summer brings.
But Mother Church, in her wisdom, does not let us get ahead of ourselves. She presents to us a season where we can get our minds straight, our spiritual house in order and prepare for the ultimate, everlasting vacation – Heaven.
Preparations for vacation begins for me and my family way before summer. Soon after the new year, my husband and I decide on a location and begin looking at vacation homes. We spend hours searching through magazines, brochures and on line at all the wonderful, temporary abodes. The children also enjoy looking, adding their input. We have to choose just the right one, with the right amount of rooms and amenities, the right distance from the beach and, of course, the right price. The process is a lot of fun for me and my family as the anticipation of our vacation begins to grow.
But what about Heaven? Do we spend as many hours contemplating Heaven as we do our vacation? We have stayed at some beautiful homes, but they are only a tiny hint of the beauty of our true home. We need to take time this Lent to think about Heaven. There’s a mansion waiting for us there, tons of rooms and all the amenities to be perfectly happy. Best of all, the price has already been paid for us. Thank you, Jesus. Like vacation, whenever we think about Heaven, we can’t help but get excited. Let us keep our destination ever before us!
Another early preparation for vacation is deciding who will be going with us. Our favorite and best vacations are the one we take with family. Sometimes, my parents, brother, sister and their families go with us; on occasion, my husband’s family vacations with us. Always, these times provide the best memories.
This Lent, chose someone to go with you on your journey. Ask a saint to accompany you. What are you working on this Lent? Are you giving up coffee or desserts? Ask Venerable Matt Talbot to be your companion. Are you going to make a special effort to be charitable to that difficult coworker? Ask St. Therese to be your Lenten friend. Have you made a commitment to say the rosary everyday? Ask St. Dominic to join you. This year St. Rita, the patron saint of the impossible, will travel with me through Lent. It may be the only way I will be successful with my Lenten practice!
Weeks before our vacation, I start gathering supplies – groceries, sand toys, boogie boards, and beach towels. As the stuff begins to mount in the hallway, so does the excitement.
What kind of stuff are we mounting up for Heaven? Lent is the perfect time to start gathering the things we can take with us – extra rosaries and prayer time, Masses, sacrifices, and charitable works.
Finally comes the time to pack. We load up the necessities and leave behind what we don’t need.
Lent, too, is a time to fill our mind with what is necessary and unload what is not – that snack, cup of coffee, or tidbit of gossip.
One further thought I would like to share. During my vacation I have seen the awesome beauty of a sunrise and gorgeous sunsets; I have experienced the power of the ocean waves and the shining sun; I have basked in the warmth of that same sun and even more so in the time spent with those I love. I have immensely enjoyed my vacations. God’s own beauty, power and love is reflected in them. But even the best vacation is but a tiny taste of Heaven.
So let us make us of this time the Church gives us. Jesus has paid the ultimate price for an ultimate destination for us. Let us prepare to be with Him forever in Heaven.
What saint can you ask to join you on your Lenten journey that through his/her prayers your sacrifices and good works may draw you closer to Heaven, that state of perfection, where our Lord so eagerly awaits you?
Copyright 2014 Kelly Guest