March 7, 2012

Heaven in Faith Series Episode 7 - The Fire of Love

Is heaven worth it? Some are afraid that the end goal of our Christian faith is dreamy clouds, bland cream cheese, and boring elevator music. They fear that the only peace our faith promises is the absence of adventure, excitement and fulfillment.  In other words, they consider Christ as if He were some old dead thing. Well, at least this is the way they look at his promises.  Ever wonder what goes through the heart of the Lord when He sees this in our hearts?

For my part, I have never met anyone who really knows the Lord and was bored at the same time.  People of real faith always seem to be trying to fit an eternity of living in a life too short to contain it all.   I have seen octogenarians come alive with the excitement of a child with the very mention of the Lord and frequently I have been humbled in the face of their apostolic zeal.  On the other hand, I once met a young man not yet a teenager yet very sick with cancer.  He did not seem very aware of how sick he was.  Instead, he was filled with God's love and filled his days making rosaries for people to pray with.  Even non-Catholics accepted his work with puzzled but heartfelt gratitude; his joy was so contagious! 

Those who are faithful in their love of God propose that He is the fulfillment of all desire, the center of unremitting activity. They identify this dynamic experience of God with a kind of spiritual fire or fire of love.  In Christ, they have discovered a new life which burns in them and animates them with a joy beyond the boundaries of their own egos. Such a life is ever new, ever youthful, even in those who approach the end of their days. The more they share with God, the more truly themselves they become.  His love, rather than boring, is delightful for them because it ignites in them a freedom to love, a freedom in which they rejoice.  When Blessed Elisabeth of the Trinity suffered the final agonizing months of her life, she experienced God as an en-kindling fire of love whose sparks delightfully transformed everything they touched.

The delights of the divine en-kindling are renewed in our depths by an unremitting activity: the enkindling of love in a mutual and eternal satisfaction. It is a renewal that takes place at every moment in the bond of love.

Heaven is about this same bond of love: an exchange of hearts so intense, so rich, so beautiful that every desire and hope is surpassed. The soul is enveloped in an exceeding love and shares a joy with God which is intensely mutual. The joy of the soul in being loved by God and the joy of God being loved by the soul are so reciprocal that one loses the sense of where the frontiers of the soul end and the horizons of God begin, and this losing of oneself in this exchange can happen over and over again.

It is possible to choose this bond of love as one's life refuge, the place from which to draw strength during this earthly sojourn.  It is no escape but rather the only way into what is really real.  The reality of love - this is our life's adventure, this is what makes life worth living.  It was purchased for us at great price.  It is a gift for which we must ask.  It is an art which we must learn. 

Those who choose to believe in God's love, who seek it and strive to live by it; they possess heaven in faith. Their hearts are constantly filled with new wonders and they are continually loosing themselves in a silence pregnant with this love -- especially when it feels painfully absent. Christ himself is their hope, the star that guides them. Looking to Him they find the passageway out of self-occupation and into interior freedom carried by a mystery they cannot fathom:

Freed from their prison, they sail on the Ocean of Divinity without any creature being an obstacle or hindrance to them. Heaven in Faith #13
Click here for a podcast of episode seven of my discussions with Kris McGregor on Blessed Elisabeth of the Trinity's Retreat Heaven in Faith.