A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of visiting a woman at Mount Sinai hospital. Her 19-year-old daughter had spent her life battling a series of life-threatening illnesses. She had never been able to speak and in just a few hours, she was about to be taken off life support. In addition to this tangibly heavy burden, this woman had also lost her husband during the terrorist attack on 9/11.
Trying to offer a little comfort, I said, “Thank God you are a woman of faith. Your daughter has never really been capable of sin, given her debilitating condition since birth, and from what I understand; your husband was a very good man. I will pray they may be re-united in heaven.” She radiated a deep peace, but with sorrow in her voice, she gently said, “Fr. Michael, thank you for coming. My Catholic faith is everything to me. I simply cannot understand how anyone can get through even one day without faith. My daughter was never able to speak and she was in constant physical pain, but I know God had a plan for her. She helped so many people along the way…My hope and prayers are that she will soon join my husband in heaven.” A soft smile broke from her face and she looked like a little angel…that’s what Faith can do!
During one of my many conversations with my dad in our kitchen, he stopped cutting up the onions for his “Saturday afternoon chili”, looked me in the eyes and said, “Michael, don’t get too caught up in this world. We are blessed to live in a nice neighborhood, all of our material needs are more than being met, you are safe and comfortable. But we were not made for this world. We are pilgrims, and God made us to be with him for all eternity in heaven.” Ten years later, It gave me tremendous consolation to hear from my mom that his last words on earth were, “Germaine, let’s have a moment of silence, I feel like I am in heaven.” Shortly afterwards, he died of a blood clot.
Lent is almost over, and the focus now shifts to Easter, the Resurrection and eternal life in heaven. In heaven, our aching and tired bodies will appear in their vigorous and glorified form, there will be no head-aches, no colds, no mosquito bites or poison ivy…and everyone there will be super kind, charitable and pleasant. Most importantly, we will continue the friendship we began with Christ here on earth in the warm company of his Blessed Mother. Christ will totally fill our hearts with his peace and joy, and it will never get boring or stagnant. In the words of St. Augustine, “Our hearts are restless and they can only rest in you.” Now is the time to start building our heavenly bank account and purifying our soul from anything that is not Christ. He is waiting, he has your room reserved and he ardently hopes to see you prepared for this eternal encounter.