In this life that is all too often a vale of tears, it’s tempting to see heaven as simply eternal rest, an existence free of all the problems that plague us on earth. The saints, though, show us that it’s so much more: it’s total, freely-offered service, worship, and love of God and neighbor. We get a glimpse at what our glorious destiny can be when we see the supernatural charity lived out by the saints on earth. In John Jesus tells us how He wants us to get a head start on this heavenly existence when He says, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (10:10).
Our Lady, for example, who more than anyone else deserves to spend eternity with her feet up eating candy, instead perpetually and most powerfully intercedes on behalf of all her children. Likewise, other saints have talked about how they’ll spend their time in heaven working for us. St. Therese of Lisieux said, “I will spend my heaven doing good on earth.” And Padre Pio said, “I shall stand at the gates of Paradise until all my spiritual children have entered.” They, of course, are taking their cue from Jesus who in heaven is eternally offering Himself to the Father in the sacrifice of the Mass for us.
It can become such a joy to realize that we don’t have to wait until we die to experience heaven; we can begin today! We, of course, have to be real about what heaven actually is (all-consuming love of God and service to Him) and not what we want it to be (unending Netflix marathon in our jammies). One way to taste heaven now is to get into the habit of praying for others. The saints are pros at it, and the good news is that we as parents have probably gotten pretty good at it already. But there’s always room for improvement and more that we can teach our kids.
I recently came across this night prayer from St. Augustine, and I just thought it was so lovely. What a beautiful look into a soul who with the last few moments of the day was not asking for his own intentions but was instead thinking of others:
Watch, O Lord, with those who wake, or watch or weep tonight, and give Your angels and saints charge over those who sleep. Tend Your sick ones, O Loving Lord; rest Your weary ones; bless Your dying ones; soothe Your suffering ones; pity Your afflicted ones; shield Your joyous ones. And all for Your love’s sake. Amen.
Let’s start anticipating our heavenly life right now by praying more intensely for each other. I’ve got a good feeling that it might be even more satisfying than binge-watching the Food Network…in which case, heaven’s going to be amazing.
“Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thes. 5:17)
Copyright Meg Matenaer 2015.
Photo by xandert (2007) via Morguefile.