Catholic Girl Journey

Dining with the saints

Starting out the month of November with All Saints’ Day has me thinking about the saints with whom I feel a connection. Modifying a question that pops up from time to time: if you could dine with any saint, whom would it be and why?

While that may seem like a wild question, it may not be that absurd. Throughout both the Old and New Testaments, the message of God preparing a banquet feast is a recurring theme. While some may argue it is used as an analogy, even if the purpose is not meant to eat, there is a gathering taking place. In heaven, it is called the communion of saints.

Since Jesus is the only one who has come to earth from heaven, it’s hard for us who live in time and space to grasp what heaven is and what it will be like. God has given us an imagination and I can’t help but think this is to help us prepare for heaven. While we will be able to see and experience God as He is and He will be all we need, the communion that the Trinity shares amongst the three persons I would think would be mimicked by the communion of saints. Our interaction with other saints may not be to see, hear, and talk to them as we do on earth, but there would be some sort of communication between all members, otherwise we would be in total isolation.

If I was able to talk with only one saint, I think it would be Saint Peter. I would love to hear his stories, from fishing to following Jesus and how much alike he thought they were. I would love to know about his family and how they handled his career change. I also think it would be fascinating to hear how his intercession has helped people over the past 2,000 years.

If heaven does allow us to get to know the other saints in on an individual basis, it may take eternity to get to know each person. What better harmony can there be in heaven, than the communion of saints truly being a family and getting to know one another.

Catholic Girl Journey

Who art in heaven

As I was praying the Our Father recently, an odd question popped into my head: Why do we state where God is? It’s not like there are multiple gods out there which we need to differentiate. It’s not like He changes locations with the seasons that we would need to keep His whereabouts in mind. And how is it that we humans can definitively know where God is?

Heaven is not about a physical place or space, as we define location. Rather it calls to mind that God is not a being limited to our world. He is Creator of all, so His signature is on everything we see around us. That helps us to bring Him to mind and ponder what He is like. After all, what better way to get to know someone than to look at what He has created? But creation does not fully reveal who God is, rather provides us examples of what God is like. Creation can lead us to a relationship with God, but not to God Himself.

If God is not a being limited to this world, then He is beyond it. When humans first roamed the earth, they had no idea what was above the clouds, as the clouds, sun, moon and stars were beyond their reach. It makes sense that the first definition for heaven in the Merriam-Webster dictionary is, “the expanse of space that seems to be over the earth like a dome.” However, the Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “The symbol of the heavens refers us back to the mystery of the covenant we are living when we pray to our Father. … [Christians] are in the flesh, but do not live according to the flesh. They spend their lives on earth, but are citizens of heaven.“ (CCC: 2795-6) Does that mean the Our Father is not reminding us that God is elsewhere, but that we are called to live with the hope and anticipation of getting there?

Jesus Christ came down from heaven by being born of a woman and ascended back into heaven after He completed His mission (His passion, death and resurrection). He has bridged the gap between the two realms. He has taught us to keep heaven in mind when praying by using it not just once, but a second time so that we ask for God’s will to be ‘done on earth as it is in heaven.’ Heaven is not a state of mind, but a state of which to be mindful.

Catholic Girl Journey

My choice, my responsibility

If a non-believer asked you why does it matter if they believe in God, how would you answer?

I was watching a video from Bishop Robert Barron about ‘Reaching the iGens’, which concerns individuals who have grown up in a post i-phone world and the alarming number who have no religious affiliation. They are considered the ‘nones.’ He pointed out a few main considerations to think about when evangelizing to them. For instance, he mentioned seeing a billboard in California that seemed to sum up their attitude: “My Life, My Death, My Choice”… a total contradiction from the Catholic perspective, in which these are God’s choices.

The idea of having an opportunity to evangelize a ‘none’ person has me thinking of what I would say. There are so many ways to express why I believe, but most end up starting with the assumption of a belief in God, a higher power. But what about those who claim that since science hasn’t found any evidence of God, that the Bible is just a bunch of fables and tall tales like Greek and Roman mythology? I think the answer lies in society’s preoccupation with choice. Every marketing campaign starts with knowing that the consumer has a choice, they want you to choose their product. But a plethora of choices surrounds us: from the number of TV channels to ways to watch TV, to opportunities to dine out, what to make at home or even a combination of ordering from McDonalds and having it delivered by Uber. Among all these choices, how do you make a case to choose God?

“It’s my right to choose,” is far too often a defensive cry. But what if we turned that into the basis of our argument for God? Yes, we all have the right to choose, but who gives us that right? God does. He gave us freewill to either invite Him into our lives willingly or to turn away and ignore Him. However, with every choice there is a responsibility one has to accept for making that choice. For example, if I decide I don’t feel like going to work and I stay home, I have to accept the responsibility that at some point my employer is going to terminate my employment. It might not happen immediately, but eventually some disciplinary action will occur. If a person chooses to ignore God, He’s not going to go away, but at the point of their death, they must accept the consequences of this choice – eternal damnation. Would you want to wait until the point of death to realize that there is a God? God is merciful, so depending on how one lives their life, it’s still possible to reconcile with God even at that last possible moment.

I choose to believe in God. I believe that He will help me become the best version of myself. I will never reach perfection on earth, but I try because I know He’s supporting me. Even when my world seems rocked and anxiety starts creeping in, His peace is never far away. Living my life for God gives me purpose, direction and guidance along the way. I’m choosing to believe in God because I’m responsible, not just for what I do or not do in this life, but also for what happens after I die. I don’t want to wait until then to find out I should have done things differently. That reality may happen sooner than I think!

Catholic Girl Journey

Excuse me, do you know the way to heaven?

They are our constant companions. They are our lifeline to the world. They are smartphones. Without them, we would be, well… LOST.

There was a time when I would search a map for the best route to get to my destination.and carefully write down the directions, turn by turn. Then I would notate the reverse, so that I could drive home without driving in endless circles. Now, I don’t have to prepare a thing. I just type in an address and the map in my phone will take me there. Don’t like the way it’s taking me? I can turn down a different road and it will re-route me. As long as I have my phone charged up, I can go anywhere.

We put faith in an electronic gadget that it will get us where we want to go. We might get frustrated with our phone for dropping a call or sounding a notification without cause, but we trust that whatever map app we have, we can make our journey. We may make fun of the way it takes us, sometimes the long way around, but never do we really question if we will make it.

How do we make the journey to heaven? Do we trust God enough to lead us there? Or would we rather put the address into our smartphone and drive there? I don’t think of myself as a person who has to be in control all the time. However, since I drive on a daily basis, I think some of that need for control creeps into other areas of my life, like my faith journey. Can I let God take the wheel and lead me to heaven? Do I think I’ll get lost on the way? Well, if I insist on driving, I very well may get lost! But if I let God drive me, how can I ever think I won’t make it? It sounds so easy, but it does require trust on my part.

I have to trust in God’s Word. I may not be able to enter an address for heaven, but I know the way because it has been mapped out by Jesus.  “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6). I need to be open to way that Jesus is directing me. I open up myself to a relationship with God through Jesus in the Mass, in prayer and in trying to follow Jesus’ life example.

It’s not about what I want, it’s about what He wants for me. I need to stop being a backseat driver, telling God where I want to go and how I want to get there. I need to trust that He will take me where He wants me to go. Sometimes it may be a direct route and sometimes it may be the scenic way. What I need to remember, is to just sit back, relax and enjoy the view and the journey.