Monday, February 27, 2006

Get Me to Heaven!

I received a rather interesting comment from one of my blog readers about a week ago. He said he wasn’t interested in too much of what is out there in cyberspace, because he was looking for something that would help get him to Heaven, and most blogs (even Catholic ones) do not provide much help in that regard. He wanted to read something that would advance his salvation, and not merely entertain him (or worse, weary or discourage him). Another friend says he uses this blog for spiritual discussions with his girlfriend, presumably for the same ultimate goal.

I thought to myself: shouldn’t that goal—getting to Heaven—be first and foremost on all our agendas? If something doesn’t positively help get us there, then it is neutral at best and a hindrance at worst. But other things actually lead us away from Heaven, and these ought to be avoided at all costs—even though they are often the things that the majority of people seem avidly and blindly to pursue.

What I’m trying to do with Word Incarnate, in my own small way, is to help lead you to Heaven. So I write about Heaven, and sometimes about Hell—for you have to know, because of original sin and its effects, that “Heaven” is not the default setting for our souls. We have to choose it, make an effort, follow the Lord; it won’t happen automatically. And I write a lot about the word of God, how the way to Heaven is explained to us in the Scriptures and in the Tradition of the Church. There are countless insights there into living a full and faithful spiritual life, and if the Lord has freely given a few of them to me, then I freely share them with you—because I want to see you in Heaven (and because, I confess, I share St Paul’s burden: “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!”).

Let’s be clear about this. The mass media do not exist to help you get to Heaven; neither do politicians, advertisers, pornographers, insurance companies, or anyone else whose main interest is taking your money, keeping you under control, or ruining your immortal soul. We must have the realistic attitude that, even with the refreshing touches of Paradise that God has allowed to remain on earth, and even with the heartwarming experiences we may have with some of those created in his image, we still have to fight hard against “the world, the flesh, and the devil” in order to get to Heaven. And for this we need a lot of help.

The Church ought to be our greatest help in getting to Heaven, for, unlike all the other groups mentioned above, the Church does exist to help us get to Heaven. That is her reason of being, even though sometimes it may seem like she exists to raise funds or handle administrative tasks or hand out a few spiritual warm fuzzies. You have the right to go to your pastor and tell him that you expect him to help get you to Heaven! After he has put his jaw and eyebrows back in their proper places, he may either dismiss you or actually realize that this is his vocation and begin in earnest to deal with your spiritual needs. The Church is supposed to provide us with all the means of grace, through the sacraments and the wise counsel of its ordained ministers. If the Church isn’t working tirelessly to help the faithful get to Heaven, she is failing in her most important and essential mission.

Perhaps this should be the main criterion when we are making a decision about some plan of action to pursue, even in the simple things of everyday life: is this going to help me get to Heaven? If it isn’t going to help get me to Heaven, why the Hell do I want to do it? Sometimes I pray to the Lord (trembling at what this might mean in practice): Whatever it takes to keep me out of Hell and to secure my place in Heaven, do that! Because nothing is worth losing your soul. Make your efforts toward attaining Heaven explicit. If you’re not actively trying to get to Heaven, be assured that you won’t. The Lord has provided more than enough helps for us to get there, for that’s where He wants us to be, but that doesn’t mean the way there will not be demanding. It will. But it will be worth it. Let us all support and pray for each other, and help each other get to Heaven. We’ll be eternally glad we made that our number one priority.