Posts Tagged ‘heaven’

I Saw Before Me a Huge Crowd !…

May 27, 2017

” I saw before me a huge crowd which no one could ocunt from every nation and race, people and tongue. They stood before the throne and the Lamb , dressed in long white robes and holding palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice, ” Salvation is from our God, who is seated on the throne , and from the Lamb !” All the angels who were standing around the throne and the elders and the four living creaturesfell down before the throne to worship God. They said ” Amen, ! priase and glory , wisdom and thanksgiving and honor, Power and might to our God forever and ever Amen !”. ( Revelation 7:9-12)

When I began to look at this passage, I thought to myself. What could one possibly say, or think, or ponder more than what is already written here.

Many in the theological circles I have traveled in, either know little about the book of revelation or sometimes I get the feeling that it is for the clergy, and those in pastoral, and spiritual care circles, much the same feeling one gets as a guitar player, when someone comes up and asks you to play
” Freebird”… now. don’t go get all defensive if your one of those who just can not seem to hear the song enough, and feel like it is your personal anthem.

What I mean is that there are certain questions one gets asked oh, about a trillion times and you really long for something with a little more substance or something different. What Circle of Hell am I in ? Which room in the Interior Castle am I in ? What do you think about that labyrinth thingy ?

Now, don’t get my wrong. I want to encourage everyone in their quest for knowledge, truth, ,and the understanding in their relationship with Christ. It is important, to seek these things, so that you understand what you believe and why. In today’s world we have far to few “educated” Christians, meaning disciples who know what they believe, and why they believe it, and the history and meaning behind that faith.

But I digress..

So what is it about this passage that speaks to us ? What is it about it that sticks out to you ? Most assuredly, and hopefully it will be a little different for you. Why ? Because the scripture speak to us differently, at different times, for different reasons, in order to teach us different things.

While reading the passage , we are taken into the scene. The sheer vastness of the Throne Room, the huge hall, and all of the faithful there praising God in all His spendor. The part however that caught my attention was the mention of the four creatures.. and it really did not seem to make sense to me.

In my search there are those who have described these four creatures in various ways. have connected the creatures to the four creatures from Ezikiel, but those creatures came in a much different scene. In fact there are a few places throughout scripture in the Old Testament where there are 4 creatures mentioned.

The important thing to note is that Revelation like several other books are full of imagery, and symbolism. Its just that Revelation is chocked full of the stuff. I mean literally this is wall to wall imagery. The thing is you have to understand that these revelations are mystical and dream-like and are meant to a certain degree, to speak to the audience it was meant for… the early church.

The other thing is that translations are at work here. The word “creatures” are also used to refer to various options, including angels. The reference changes according to the translator apperantly.
So who were these 4 creatures ? – they are by cross reference to the Old Testament in Daniel and Ezekiel as a Man, Eagle, Lion, and Ox. Great ?! you say ? Now what.. these 4 creatures are actually symbols of the Evangelists of the Synoptic Gospels. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
These are born out by such great theologians as Iraneas , St Auguine of Hippo and St. Jerome.

There were the elders.. the communion of Saints.. another great voice and our intercessors in Heaven.
This should give us hope, and confidence not only in our prayer life, but in our intercession. For others, and in turn through the saints and the Blessed Virgin Mary. It should also give us great confidence in the intercessory prayers of others on our behalf.

What a glorious scene for us, for our future. What fire should fill our hearts and souls as we contemplate the glories of Heaven and of our Heavenly Father.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Are there different degrees of reward in Heaven ?

June 12, 2015

Are there different degrees of reward in Heaven ?
This question was posed not long ago through a friend.   This brings about an interesting question and since we really dont have a vast understanding of the nature of Heaven aside from some of the writings of the Apostles, and mystics, it might cause some to wonder about this question.

We need a little background  for this we turn to Romans 2:6-11

” (God) who will repay everyone according to his works,

eternal life to those who seek glory, honor, and immortality through perseverance in good works,

but wrath and fury to those who selfishly disobey the truth and obey wickedness.

Yes, affliction and distress will come upon every human being who does evil, Jew first and then Greek.

But there will be glory, honor, and peace for everyone who does good, Jew first and then Greek.

There is no partiality with God. ”
So, there are interesting parts of this.. In this section of scripture Paul is explaining to the pagans and the Jews that there will be a price to pay for their stubborness in their ways.

The first part of this verse says that God will repay everyone according to their works.  Seek to do good works and then persevere in seeking Honor, glory and immortality.   I might lead one to think that you might gain insurmountable wealth in Heaven..
heck you might get a huge mansion which would be better than the shack your neighbor got because he didnt work as hard as you did, and so you deserve it !

This manner of thinking is a slippery slope into the sin of pride amongst other things.

Here is the other side of the coin.  It was God given grace that gives us the urgings to do good works.
We get the promptings of the spirit as the result of a well formed conscience, that leads us to do good works.

So even the works that you do are not really your own.  Yes, we have free will, and we could refuse those promptings and persists in some other form of sin.  Since we already know that these are the urgings and promptings of the Spirit, then how can we claim those as prize.
Lets dig a little more.

In John 14:2 is the verse ” In my fathers house there are many mansions, if it were not so I would have told you, I am going to prepare a place for you there”.

In this verse, the term “mansion” is not what we think of today a huge house with many rooms and winding staircases etc..  In this case a “mansion” was a word that was used to mean a a dwelling in a family home.  These are places where extended family both by blood and marriage would live.    He went to prepare a place for us there in that kind of close family environment.

THis idea flys in the face of the idea that there would be that kind of materialistic reward.

The Catechism (CCC#2007)  shares ” With regard to God, ther eis no strict right to any meriton the part of man.  Between God and us there is an immeasurable inequality , for we ahve recieved everything from Him , our Creator”.

(CCC#2008) ” The merit of man before God in the Christian life  arises from the fact that God as freely chosen to associate man with the work of His grace”.  … SO that the merit of good works is to be attributed in the first place to the grace of God, and then to the faithful.  Man’s merit moreover, itself is due to God, for his good actisons proceeed in Christ, from the predispositions and assistance given by the Holy Spirit.”
Lactantius had the following to say :

“”Let every one train himself to righteousness, mold himself to self-restraint, prepare himself for the contest, equip himself for virtue . . . [and] in his uprightness acknowledge the true and only God, may cast away pleasures, by the attractions of which the lofty soul is depressed to the earth, may hold fast innocence, may be of service to as many as possible, may gain for himself incorruptible treasures by good works, that he may be able, with God for his judge, to gain for the merits of his virtue either the crown of faith, or the reward of immortality” (Epitome of the Divine Institutes 73 [A.D. 317]).

Here is the crux of the matter.  The reward for living a good and holy life, that of virtue, of morals, and struggling for the goodness of God and for His greater glory is not of riches in the human idea of wealth.  Instead it is faith, and immortality in Heaven with God.

Here again we see how simple our faith can be.  Those things that we learned so long ago in the Catechism we were taught as young children,  Our purpose, is to know God, to Love God , to serve God, so that we can be with God in Heaven…. Amen !

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Humility and the Fire of God’s Furnace…

May 2, 2015

” For Gold and Silver are tried in the fire, but acceptable men in the furnace of humiliation.”
– Ecclesiastes 2:5   ( Textual Concordance of the Holy Scriptures  copyright 1908 Benzinger Brothers.)

Every single person has a spiritual path to walk.  They are on a different point on their journey.
Indeed, there are many points that each of us have shared.. and those shared points occur, within our own experiences, but also at different points of our journey..

Your experience of your spiritual journey might occur in a different place than the next person.  No spiritual journey to GOd has ever occured in a straight line.

I would dare say that if there was ever some one whose path was exactly what they thought it would be.. I would like to meet them.
( Save of course for the Lord.. )

In the course of your journey how many of you have stood there , or knelt there, and prayed for patience.. ( I know .. I know)
and even though you know too the saying is, be careful what you ask for.   If you pray for patience, possibly you will be given the trials that will present you with the opportunity to work on your patience, and odds are you will probably fail at some point during that process.

This is however an incorrect way of thinking about this in the spiritual sense.   Consider this for a moment..

For a number of people, the beginning of their mature spiritual journeys, began at a point of crisis in their lives. Something happened to them, or to someone they care about, that caused them to stop and consider the “why” of how things happen, or to find some sort of meaning in their lives.  It might have been just a point in their lives where there was a void, an emptyness, some critital juncture where they felt like there had to be something else.
It was, however a trial or difficulty of some sort or other that brought them to the point of making those decisions, that brought them to the beginning of understanding at some level of their spiritual journey.

This verse has a number of messages for us.

The first part,  ” For Gold and Silver are tried in the fire…”  In this section we understand that in the physical secular world, that Gold and Silver are highly prized, possibly above other possesions one might own.   However, reading further we find this.  ” but acceptable men…”   Notice he did not say just “men”, but “acceptable men “.  This is an important distinction.

So this begs the question who exactly is “acceptable” ?   In Romans Chapter 5, we read, that although from the time of Adam, unto the time of Christ, Sin reigned within the world and man was not “acceptable” because of sin.  However, just as sin entered the world through one man, sin was conquored by through Jesus Christ, true God and true man.  The paschal mystery provided for all man kind who, by faith in Jesus Christ, have been provided the opportunity for salvation, and therefore made “acceptable” to God.

One other facet of this verse in Ecclesiastes. This provides for us the opportunity to reflect on the yet another verse along this path.. ”
For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be…”  Matthew 6:21

For in this verse we talk of silver and Gold as being precious to men.  In Matthew the reading previous to this particular verse admonishes us not to store up treasures for ourselves here on Earth, because the things we here are fleeting, temporary, and subject to decay.  In contrast the treasures that we store up in heaven are eternal.
Returning to the orginal thought, where we all have trials and difficulties.  We all know that trials and difficulties are part of every day life.  Even those who have no faith life still go through difficulties in life.  So there is no sense in trying to avoid them by ignoring what it is that you already know.

Pray for those things that you have discerned that you need.  The fact that you know that you need to work on some certain area in your life is the Holy Spirit at work within you, informing you and urging you forward ever closer in your walk with God.

Pray for wisdom, guidance, patience, and grace.  When your own trials happen in life, like many other things you might not see what happens, or how God was working with you while you go through your trial, but in time, you will understand.   Keep firmly in mind that just like the beginning of your journey, the trial you were going through was what started you in your journey, and it was how it was that you came to be closer to God.

For your soul is the most precious thing you have.  It is the only thing you have that will stay with you, even after death. Your treasures in heaven, stored up through a lifetime of service to God, and to your brothers and sisters for the sake of Christ, that  will be where your treasures truly lie, and this is indeed what makes it worth life’s trials.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Can The Heavens Contain All of You ?

February 9, 2010

Good Morning Brothers and Sisters !   Peace be with you !

In the readings this morning, we are reading from the prophet Isaiah who asks a rather pointed question, that indeed some still ponder today.

““Can it indeed be that God dwells on earth?
If the heavens and the highest heavens cannot contain you,
how much less this temple which I have built!  ”   ( Isaiah 8 : 27 )

If you want to get a sense of how it was that Isaiah felt when he made this statement,  go to church, on Sunday, a little early this time.. or stay a little later this time, and ponder Our Lord, in the blessed Eucharist in the tabernacle.

Consider how immense and how vast God is.  How awesome it is that he chose to be with us throughout time by dwelling in that tiny box.    It is not how ornate or plain it is.  It is not that there are one or one hundred and one people there to worship.  It is that God in his greatness once again chooses us. It is His will that we should have access to be with him, to take him in, and to love Him.

There are grand cathedrals, and tiny mission churches, but God is no less present in all these places.      But not only in these places, but in the tabernacles of our souls that we carry.   Here lies part of the mystery of the sacredness of life.  In each person is an indwelling of the Most High.   It is in the recognition of this fact that we acknowledge that all life is sacred.

We can, if we choose to seek it, find the presence of God in creation.   Nature offers us the unique opportunity to appreciate the marvelous handiwork of Gods creation.   From Sunsets over the water, to mountain sunrises, and mornings on a lake watching the fish jump out of the water, it is in the smallness of nature that we can indeed see the vastness of God.

Whoever has more, more will be given unto them

January 28, 2010

Good Morning, and Peace be with you !

This mornings Gospel is from St Mark.  ( Mark 4:21-25).    This mornings Gospel is rather interesting to me.  In the first part, which has been the subject of many discussions, is the section that talks about not hiding your lamp under a bushel basket.   But that is not the subject of todays writing.  The next section is what fascinates me and it reads :

“For there is nothing hidden except to be made visible;
nothing is secret except to come to light.
Anyone who has ears to hear ought to hear.”
He also told them, “Take care what you hear.
The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you,
and still more will be given to you.
To the one who has, more will be given;
from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”

In the first lines talk about nothing being hidden or invisible  except that which is to be revealed.   Its sounds sort of cryptic.   Well, lets think about this for a moment.    There are things we really dont know.  There are things we dont understand, or realize in the vastness  of  heaven and earth.

How many times in our lives have we gone through some difficulty,  not knowing why it is happening or not understanding why it is that God has made us to walk that path, only to make a connection later that it was to teach us something, or get us back on the right path, or to give us some insight or appreciation for the benefit of our brothers and sisters ?

Then the next part of the Gospel,  ” The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you,”.

This like many other statements have some dual meanings.  Not only is it true that if we use a critical measuring stick and are cruel or unforgiving in our scrutiny of others, or demanding of others, so it will be for us on the day of  Judgement.     At the same time, If you love your brothers and sisters in abundance, that measure will be given unto you as well.  The measure of love and generosity with which you treat your brothers and sisters will grow and be shared with you.

This brings us to the last lines.  ” To the one who has, more will be given;
from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away”

When people hear these lines for some it scares them because they think of this in terms of money and worldly riches.  Instead I choose to relate this to Love.   If you have Love in your heart, Love will be given unto you.  Keep love in your heart !   Choose to hold love in your heart for your brothers and sisters.  To those who are less fortunate, give love to those who have little.   Love will not only grow in your heart for your effort, but it will also grow in theirs !  There is no bounds to the end of how far your love will reach.     Holding love in your hearts and giving love freely will help to bring Gods heavenly kingdom to earth and make the daily path worlds better for those who share your walk !

What is Heaven Like ?

October 27, 2009

This mornings reading is again from the Gospel of  St Luke  ( Lk 13:18-21 ).

We have Jesus trying to teach us a bit about Heaven.  The Lord says  “What is heaven like ?”    I imagine that for a great many people, the responses of today would probably be something like.. There are streets of gold, and angels walking in the clouds, and soft harp music playing in the background,  the pearly gates, and Saint Peter standing dutifully by to admit the faithful.  Possibly a great banquet hall where the food goes forever and drinks flow like water and everyone has a mansion set aside for them.

But the Jesus does not say any of those things here,  He says that Heaven is like a mustard seed.  The mustard seed grows and eventually grows into a large bush where several birds eventually make their home.    This sounds like an awfully strange description of Heaven !

But consider this.  The mustard seed, is like the good we do on earth.   We work to feed the poor, clothe the naken, feed the hungry etc.   We may know about the good we are doing directly, but we usually dont know much about the seeds we plant in those who watch what we are doing !   In both cases we are being Christ to others.  We may be the tool of the Spirit that is used to bring another to the Body of Christ.   So much more still will they do in our stead.  In this way we are seeds, the good planted in one person, if nutured and cared for, will grow and produce fruits of the Spirit, where others, the birds of our lives will one day make their resting places, and gain souls for the kingdom of Heaven.

The Battles That Rage Within…

October 23, 2009

Peace be with you !

This mornings first reading was taken from Romans 7:18  Very good stuff in here because it is a reading that deals with the fallen nature of the human being.    There is a certain duality that occurs within each person.    Again this duality has been expressed in many faiths.  For some they see  a little devil on one shoulder and a little angel on the other shoulder.       Lets take a more practical look at these things.

God is omnipotent, all knowing, all seeing.  Satan is a fallen being, powerful, but not as powerful as God.  Now, God gave man free will.   You can choose to do what ever you  want.  You can do good, or you can do evil.    How do we know what is good and what is evil ?   We know because our conscience tells us so ( provided you have a well formed conscience).       There is a little voice for each of us that tells us when we are doing something good, or when we are doing something wrong.    There are phyiscal reactions/reflections if you will that occur in a person who chooses to do evil.

Are we sinful ?  Of course we are.  We are also a people of light and love.

In the history of the Christian faith, we came a place where the Jewish people of that time, were people of “the law”..  there were over three hundred laws  that you were required to live by in order to be considered good.   If you broke the rule you sinned and you were bad.       Lots of rules….

Christ came along and tried to teach us that the rule was LOVE  not the laws.    Love thy neighbot.  Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  Turn the other cheek,  LOVE your enemies.  Love is patient, Love is kind. etc  etc.

Do we really LOVE  the others in our life ?   When we battle with those choices of good and evil, the rule of love, is the only rule that matters.