For the earth is not our homeland,
but a testing ground of faith.
Ever onward You implore us,
as You fill us with Your Grace.
The first time I heard heaven being called ‘home’ after my conversion began, I burst into tears and sobbed like a child who had been taken from its parents, wanting nothing more than to go home. Talk about ‘shock & awe’, our military can’t come close to what God can do!
While we are living, and have obligations to take care of, here on earth, it can be difficult to think about heaven as our real home. I had a full-time job, helped out at my parish teaching religious education, playing the keyboard with the choir, and various other activities. In the ‘world’ I was a 4-H leader, soccer coach, Cub Scout leader, room mother, and chaperone for field trips. All of this was in addition to my responsibilities as a wife and mother, and the never-ending jobs that are part of being a homemaker.
I was serving. Just like the gospel tells us to…..or so I thought. I was so busy that I didn’t have time for a prayer life – if I had known what that meant. A friend recently shared this definition of ‘busy’ with me and I love it!
Buried Under Satan’s Yoke
This is a perfect description of where I was even in the midst of all the service work I was doing. It’s not that the activities were bad in themselves; they weren’t. But they kept me so busy I didn’t have any quiet time or solitude, and these are critical for developing a relationship with God. Without the relationship with God, my service to others was often as much for my benefit as for those I was helping; it made me look good. People liked me and praised me, and I ate it up….patting myself on the back for being such a good person.
When we get into situations like this we need a wake-up call, and God is always willing to provide. Are we paying attention? Conversion (Latin for “turning aright”), or metanoia, (Greek for “rethinking”), is pure gift from the Lord which allows us to have a sincere change of heart, to turn from sin to the practice of virtue. I remember reading the beginning pages of “Dark Night of the Soul” by St. John of the Cross. It was during a tumultuous time in my life and my priest suggested I read this book. I looked it up and found a website that had the whole book available to read online. I will never forget sitting at my computer, tears rolling down my cheeks as I was reminded that I do have a soul. This catapulted me from living in sin to desiring holiness. As I began to actively seek Truth through Catholic books and media it became apparent that there are many souls who are fed up with what the world has to offer and are looking for something more.
The bottom line is that we do have a soul, and it will live forever. That’s the truth! It doesn’t change because someone doesn’t believe it. If the soul lives forever, there are only two places it can permanently reside after this life – heaven or hell. (Purgatory is a temporary stopping point on the way to heaven.) What does it take to get to heaven? We need to learn about the care and feeding of our souls, and we need to learn about God. That’s what He expects of us while we’re here. The more we learn, the more we will love Him. It’s that simple. Yet simple doesn’t mean it’s easy.
Our faith is tested every single day. Usually it’s little things at home that test us the most. We are often kinder to strangers than to those we live with, probably because we know our family will love us even when we’re not at our best. Yet these are the very souls we should be the most patient and forbearing with! I have great difficulty envisioning any member of the Holy Family saying, “I’m bored!” or whining and complaining about one another like we do today.
In Romans 12:2St. Paul says:
“Do not conform yourself to this age (what is happening in the world in this period of time.), but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.”
We are in the world, but not of the world. We are destined for something far greater than what we have here. There is something deep inside each and every one of us that knows there is more. We just don’t know what it is, or where to find it. For many, we believe that God exists, and we know that we should give more of our time and of ourselves to Him , but for a variety of reasons we remain sitting on the fence, wondering if the payoff of taking up our cross is really worth the cost.
Love & Prayers,
This post is part of a series. The introduction and other articles from the series can be found here once they have been published.