I’m not sure if it is my progressing age, or my increasing wisdom (lol) or worry that causes this question to hover in my mind.
It seems that many of us have a very cavalier attitude about going to Heaven and being “saved”.
Many of our Protestant brethren believe that they are “saved” by faith alone. That by accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior they are granted automatic entry into Heaven. There are no other pre requisites. That is it. Huh? That seems pretty easy. That notion allows me to live however I want. I like that.
But wait, what does it mean to be ‘saved” and to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior? Do I just say it out loud? Do I proclaim it to a congregation? Do I get baptized in a pool of water? And then what? After I accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior, what do I do next. There has to be more?
As a Catholic, (and I mean a follower of the faith who doesn’t pick and choose a cafeteria menu of what to believe and practice) getting to Heaven is a bit more difficult. It seems that there are requirements and requisites to obtain eternity in Heaven. The Church has established guidelines on behavior and practices that will increase our chances to get there, and ones that will negate the possibility, or at least dramatically decrease the likelihood. Christ himself gave us Holy Scripture to follow, and Sacraments to bring us closer to him. These Sacraments actually unite us with him materially and spiritually. The Sacraments make us a part of him, and He a part of us. How many of us practice and make these Sacraments a priority?
He also gave us the Mass, a glimpse into Heaven itself. We truly do go to Heaven at Mass. We are in the very presence of our Lord himself, and join with all the Angels and Saints in a community that defies Earthly limitations. We celebrate and unite in an eternal and timeless celebration.
The Church dictates that we go to Mass every Sunday. Many Catholic don’t. They pass up the opportunity to go to Heaven. I find this telling. If we pass on the opportunity every Sunday to go to Heaven, why are we so eager to get there after death, why do we want Heaven for all eternity? If we don’t like and look forward to Mass on Sunday, why do we want to go there once we die, and why are we so eager to believe that all our family and friends are there. Why does this bring us comfort, they are somewhere we didn’t bother with, deeming other priorities more important,, during life. Why does it suddenly become so important after death?
Could it be that we have the wrong idea of Heaven? Could it be that we don’t truly understand the beauty, glory and miracle of the Mass? I don’t know, but it’s something to think about.