VATICAN - AVE MARIA: "Let your thoughts be on heavenly things",
Rev Luciano Alimandi
Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) - Heaven is not a fairy tale told to children, it is a certainty which Jesus gave his disciples, to all who believe in him and do his will. He said this explicitly: "there are many rooms in my Father's house. If there were not I should have told you. I am going now to prepare a place for you" (Jn 14, 2).
What joy for Christians to know that Heaven is their home, that it is worth living the Gospel and preparing for a good death with a good life in order to hear on that supreme day those sacred words of Jesus: "today you will be with me in Paradise"! To live with God for all eternity is the greatest joy that can ever exist. So, living in the awareness that heaven is only just 'round the corner' should be easy for Christians whereas instead they often find it difficult to find heaven in daily event; why is this?
To find the way to Heaven we must think of Heaven as St Paul advises: "Let your thoughts be on heavenly things, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God " (Col 3, 1). We could make a long list of heavenly things, for example: trust, hope, charity, peace, prayer, contemplation, adoration, reconciliation, thanksgiving, forgiveness, infancy in spirit, humility, freedom, truth, la simplicity, joy, wisdom, purity, meekness, silence, eternity... all gifts which have the Lord as their goal, belonging to the supernatural sphere because they are fruits of the Holy Spirit.
Things of earth, often give priority over the things of heaven, are those which deteriorate into sin,: pride, self love, vanity, egoism, haughtiness, cunning, avarice, anger, jealousy, power, honor, self admiration, envy, attachment to material goods…
From what we think we can tell what we desire and from what we desire we can judge if we are thinking of heavenly things or concerned about earthly things, like the man who "accumulates treasure for himself in place of making himself rich in the sight of God" (Lk 12, 21).
If during the day you think of things of heaven this means your desire is oriented to Heaven! This equation is so simple. Part of our daily conversion consists precisely is refraining from looking at earthly things in order to keep our heart free to think of God and His things! We know our heart cannot be occupied by two opposite desires, it cannot follow two competing "masters". As Jesus tells us, "no servant can be the slave of two masters: he will either hate the first and love the second, or treat the first with respect and the second with scorn. You cannot be the slave of both God and of money" (Lk 16, 13). Woe to those who compromise with God; one is the choice He offers us: anyone who wishes to gain his life and follow me must leave everything which fails to correspond to my holiness!
The Lord, certainly not man, created the soul in a way that it can be guided by good or evil, as the person freely chooses. Hell exists not because it is the fruit of God's flawed love for his creatures, but because freedom He gives to man is so unconditioned that it can, absurdly, say No to Him, choosing to separate from Him. Reflecting on hell should lead the believer not to doubt God but to tremble at the possibility that he could turn his back on his Creator. Awareness of being in possession of such freedom should lead man to show exemplary gratitude towards such Creator and to choose Him, the "things of the Father", in keeping with a conscience truly formed in the light of Divine Revelation. Therefore either we make a virtuous decision, or we will live as those who live without God!
The first thing to do in the morning should be to seek the Lord, his things, so that during they day we will be looking heavenwards. The best way to seek the Lord is without a doubt prayer, which gives rise to and nurtures desire for God without which we succumb to earthly desires mistaking for real that which appear real but is not. "We citizens of Heaven" (Phil 3, 20), to say it with St Paul, to what frequency do we tune in every day? That of heaven or that of earth? There are many frequencies, many thoughts which can become dominating according to who dominates them: Heaven or the world! Every Christian is called to become an apostle of Heaven, to draw many other souls after him, repeating with trust the prayer Our Blessed Lady taught to the three shepherd children at Fatima after she has shown them a vision of hell: "When you recite the rosary, after every mystery say: O my Jesus! Forgive us our sins, free us from the fires of hell, take all souls into heaven, especially those most in need".
(Agenzia Fides 24/10/2007; righe 54, parole 839)
"In Cordibus Jesu et Mariae"