ISSUES OF FAITH: Getting to know God might make eternity heavenly

I VISIT MY mom as often as I can as she lives in an assisted living place in Bellevue.

The thing you notice right away is that virtually everyone is using a walker.

Of course the pace there is very slow.

A few weeks ago one of the male residents said to me, “Just think young man, one day you might be here.”

He said this with a smile.

I wanted to tell him I had thought of that, but just smiled back and nodded.

One very interesting older man told me of his college days playing football at the University of Tulsa, one of the last colleges to wear leather helmets.

He was retired from Boeing as many of the residents are. Most of the residents lived very active, vibrant lives and probably never imagined having to use assistance to get around.

My mom falls into that category of formerly very active, and it’s hard to watch her struggle with even simple things nowadays.

When I leave there, the car ride home is usually quiet.

You can’t help but think about things, not the least of which is your own mortality.

The sad news is that someday our body will say “enough” and that will be it.

The good news is that while our bodies do the earthly thing and return to the earth, our souls will shine forever in peace in the home God made for us — and in our cooperation with him, in the journey we call life.

Or perhaps not.

Souls are lost that freely dismiss God, and this is definitely something worth thinking about.

It’s safe to say that God would like us to think about this for even God may not welcome strangers into his home. Hebrews clarifies these thoughts with perfection: “For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city which is to come” 13:14.

Cherish the life you have in you to seek that city which is to come — no excuses, now.

I saw a woman on TV on New Year’s Eve say that her New Year’s resolution would be to “do one thing a day that scares me.”

She was not talking about shoplifting, but stretching herself.

Truly, I think this is one of the great fears about Catholic Christianity or Christianity in general is that we are afraid to approach God in any way — it scares us for many reasons.

Will I lose control of my life?

What if God exists?

Will everything change?

Honestly, at times it scares me to approach God.

What if I’m asked to do something I don’t want to do, and if I know God then I can’t un-know him, so to speak.

Do I hear God’s voice? No.

Do I feel God’s presence in my life? Always.

And I’m not only OK with that, it is what I live for.

Much is made of former Catholics leaving the Church and going on to nothing or finding another place to worship.

Father John McCloskey is a priest out of Washington D.C., and a writer and blogger. He is considered a go-to priest for politicians and dignitaries/intellectuals in the Metro area and has ushered many “big wigs” into the Church.

What he says about the Mass is spot-on truth.

“The Catholic Mass is not a form of entertainment. It is worship.

“The validity and value of the Mass are not based on the music or the surroundings or the subjective feelings of the people in attendance.

“And although a good, well-preached homily is an excellent thing, the grace poured into hearts through the Eucharist does not depend on the oratorical skills of the priest but on the sacrificial action of Christ made present for our nourishment in Communion.”

So here we are — the closest you can get to Jesus while you are still alive.

Exit strategies are usually reserved for geopolitical war games but why not have one yourself? It should involve the reality, unfortunately, that we will no longer be here; and the equal reality that to serve, to love, to know God might make eternity simply heaven.

Certainly nothing to fear, like that first reach and conversation with God.

“Take and eat; this is my body … Do this in memory of me” Jesus commanded his Apostles.

And so we do, in very special thanks to all of our priests. If this is what we were made for, how can we be afraid?



Issues of Faith is a rotating column by five religious leaders on the North Olympic Peninsula. Mike Acheson is director of religious education at Queen of Angels Roman Catholic Church in Port Angeles and St. Joseph Parish in Sequim.

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