The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Ordinary Form)

St. Edward on the Lake, Lakeport, MI | DOWNLOAD AUDIO
August 15, 2016
Rv 11:19a; 12:1-6a, 10ab; 1 Cor 15:20-27; Lk 1:39-56

The Assumption is one of the great Feasts in the Church in honor of our Blessed Mother.  On this day, we thank God for this special grace given to Mary that at the end of her earthly life, she was taken up body and soul into Heaven.  What we must never forget about the feast days of Mary is that ultimately, they all point to Jesus.  Mary’s whole life pointed to Jesus.  Her own words today tell us that: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord.”  In this case, we remember that Mary was not assumed by her own power but by the power of God.  God made this happen for her because of her great love for Him and because she is a perfect example of what it means to live for Heaven.  So while we certainly honor Mary today as our Mother, Queen, and model, we praise God for His generosity and how He rewards those who love Him completely.

Mary’s Assumption, then, is a sign of her great love.  We know from our own experience of love that when we love someone, we are drawn to that someone; we want to go and be with that someone.  We don’t want anything to hold us back.  Love seeks union with the one that it loves.  Mary’s love for God was so great that at the end of her life, Earth could no longer keep her from the God whom she loved completely.  And because Mary’s love for God was purer than any, it makes sense that she would be assumed into Heaven immediately after her earthly life was over.

But what the Assumption also reminds us of is the fact that we were made for eternal life.  As we see Mary being taken up into Heaven, we are reminded that Heaven is where we should want to be as well, that we must always strive to get there.  We want to follow our Mother, and we do that by imitating her.

First, we imitate Mary’s faithfulness to God.  Even though Mary didn’t fully understand the angel Gabriel’s message to her that she would be the Mother of God’s Son, she trusted God and said yes to whatever He was calling her to.  Sometimes, we don’t understand where God is leading us.  But hopefully, our trust in Him allows us to say yes to Him, confident that He will allow our yes to bear good fruit in our lives.

We must also imitate Mary’s generosity.  Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth during her own pregnancy even though she herself was with Child.  The road that she would travel was a very difficult one, and yet Scripture said that she made that journey “in haste”.  Generosity demands that we are quick to tend to the needs of others even if our own situation is challenging.  That’s not easy, but it is the example that Mary gives to us.

The Assumption also reminds us that the more we grow in our love for God, the less interested we are in the things of this world.  The more we love God, the more we are drawn to Him.  And hopefully, our love for Him continues to grow until we have a distaste for anything that keeps us from Him, especially sin which places a division between us.  Mary was free from sin.  There was nothing to prevent her union with God.  And so one goal of the spiritual life is to develop a distaste for sin.

Finally, we remember that Mary having been assumed into Heaven is a powerful intercessor for us.  As Catholics, we pray to Mary with great confidence because no one is closer to God than she is.  And our prayer should be that one day we will get to follow her.  Let us place our cares and concern into the immaculate hands of our Mother that she may bring them to Her Divine Son.  Mary, Queen assumed into heaven, pray for us.

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

St. Edward on the Lake, Lakeport, MI | DOWNLOAD AUDIO
August 14, 2016
Jer 38:4-6, 8-10; Heb 12:1-4; Lk 12:49-53

This Gospel has always been perplexing for me because I think it challenges our natural instincts.  We’re all (I believe) peace-loving people.  When it comes to conflict, most people that I know prefer to run away from it.  Sometimes that’s good, sometimes that’s bad.  Furthermore, as Catholic Christians, we tend to talk a lot about things like love and peace and unity and so forth that when we hear this Gospel, it can startle us a little.  Now, this is not some church leader or teacher of the law who is talking; these are the words of Our Lord Himself.  And in the Gospel, He talks about setting the earth on fire.  He talks about not peace but division.  And He goes on to say that with Him, there will even be division within families.  What is going on here?  Why is He talking like this?  Doesn’t He know that He’s not going to win any followers if He keeps talking this way?  People want peace, not division.

Today’s Gospel is a continuation of last Sunday’s Gospel in which Jesus says to us that we must faithful to God’s commandments in order to receive His blessings, that He sets the terms of how we are to relate to Him.  It is our religion that directs us in that way, and so therefore, right religion is not only relevant; it is also necessary for us in order to have a meaningful relation with God.

But not only is the prevailing thought of our culture today that religion is irrelevant, that I don’t need it in order to have a relationship with God, there are those who even attack religion saying that religion is the cause of division in the world.  They look at us and our teaching against abortion and contraception or our teaching on the traditional definition of marriage and say, “Catholics – hateful, divisive”.  Are they right?  Is our practice of and adherence to religion really the cause of division in the world?  Is Christianity the reason why there is such a lack of peace in the world today?  And is this really Jesus’ endgame – to cause division, to bring conflict into the world?

First of all, it helps to look at salvation history and see the effect that God’s message has on the world.  In the First Reading, the prophet Jeremiah has set out to bring the God’s Word to His people because this is what God has asked him to do.  Jeremiah is sometimes referred to as the reluctant prophet because God called him, and he tried to politely say, “Thanks, but no thanks”.  But eventually, he surrenders to God’s Will and goes out to preach.  But his message was not a message that people wanted to hear.  And so he was rejected, and as we hear in the First Reading today, the people tried to kill him.

Perhaps people would like to look at this and say that Jeremiah is a troublemaker.  If only he keeps his mouth shut and minds his own business, there will be no problem, no conflict.  The problem is that the people, unbeknownst to them, were headed to their own destruction because of sin, and God out of His love for them wanted to save them.  But they refused to listen.  It was neither Jeremiah nor the Word of God that caused the lack of peace; it is the sin of the people and the hardness of their hearts.

Bringing this forward to today, it is not the Word of God that is at fault.  It is not our faithfulness to the teachings of the Church that is at fault.  That is what the world would have us believe.  That is the lie that Satan, the father of lies, would have us believe, to make us feel guilty for our fidelity.  The cause of division is sin.  And so the choice that we have to make is are we for God or are we for sin.

To follow the Lord is a choice.  It is a hard choice because there can be no “half choosing”.  We either choose Him fully or not at all.  It’s a hard choice because following the Lord is going to lead to rejection.  We have to be prepared for that.  We have to be ready to accept that.  And so what Jesus is saying is that with Him, there is going to be division because some will follow Him, and some will reject Him just as some will reject us if we follow Him.  In some cases, that rejection will come even within our own families.

Some would accuse Jesus’ words in today’s Gospel to be “harsh.” They are harsh because the message that they contain is as challenging as it is difficult. It challenges us to remember that to accept the call of the Lord is to accept the cross of the Lord as well.  It challenges us to remember that with the Gospel comes persecution.  It brings trial and suffering to all who embrace it.  Sounds fun, huh?  Sign me up!  Except that this is how Heaven is acquired.  This is the path to salvation.  It is the narrow gate that we’ll hear Jesus talking about in the Gospel next Sunday.  It is the difficult road that leads to salvation.  But it is how Satan is defeated.  It is how the reign of sin is overthrown not only within ourselves but also in our culture and in our world.

Jeremiah was reluctant to be God’s prophet because he didn’t want all the trouble that he knew would come with it.  But eventually, he relented and gave himself to the Lord.  I’m sure most of us are reluctant as well because we’d rather avoid all the trouble that comes with embracing the Gospel.  I’m guilty of that sometimes, too.  I also have to fight the temptation to keep quiet and run away.  That’s why I need your prayers and why we have to pray for each other!  Because Jesus says, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me”.[1]  May each of us have the courage to follow Him in the way that He calls us so that He may reign not only in our hearts but also in our world.

[1] Lk 9:23

Being the Light

Father Acervo’s Corner: August 14, 2016

1. Every one of us is called by Christ to be salt of the earth and light of the world, but figuring out how to do that can be difficult. Sometimes all we need is someone to point us in the right direction (and a little motivation). In this weekend’s bulletin, you’ll find an insert that lists some groups and activities that reside here at St. Edward on the Lake.  I encourage you to read through the list, find an activity or group that sounds interesting to you, and find out how to get involved. Can’t find what you’re looking for on the list?  Let us know, and maybe it’s something that we can start here at the parish.  Sometimes, the reason something doesn’t exists is that no one has stepped forward to start it.

As a parish, we seek to serve the needs of our entire community, and we know that there are a lot of needs out there. There are many different ways that each one of us can take a part in that.  This week, let’s all pray to the Holy Spirit to help us to know our gifts and how He is calling us to use them.

2. The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA), will begin Monday, September 12, and will meet every Monday at 7:00 P.M. in the school library. Perhaps you have thought about the possibility of becoming a Catholic. In the RCIA, we walk with you and help you to find answers to your questions about Catholicism. From September until the Easter Vigil, we help you to learn what it means to be Catholic.  And then after you have become a fully initiated member of the Church, we continue to walk with you as you begin to live your faith and discover the mission that Christ has entrusted to you.

Who is RCIA for?  RCIA is for anyone who has not been baptized and is seeking information on how to become Catholic.  It is for anyone who has been baptized in another Christian faith and would like to become Catholic.  It is for baptized Catholic adults who have missed receiving Confirmation or First Communion in the past.  In addition, Catholics who have been away from the Church for a time and want to come back are invited to join us as is anyone who simply needs a refresher on the Catholic faith.

What if I start and decide that I’m not ready?  RCIA is not a program.  It is an opportunity to discern how God is calling you.  It’s not unusual for someone to start and realize that the time is not right only to begin again in the future.  Interested?  Call or email me to set up an appointment to get started.

3. I want to thank Mike and Jean Mayer and all those who served as leaders for all of their hard work in putting together another great Vacation Bible School last week. We had a great turn out, and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. If you’re interested in learning how you can be a part of future VBS’s, please let me know.

4. Beginning the weekend of September 10-11, the Sunday Mass schedule will be as follows: The 8:00 A.M. Mass will be the Tridentine Mass. The 9:30 and 11:30 Masses will be in English. There will be no 2:00 P.M. Mass.

5. This is a reminder that our Golf Outing will be Saturday, September 10 at Black River Country Club in Port Huron. Registration forms can be found in the pews or can be downloaded from the parish website.

Also, our Parish Picnic will be Sunday, September 18 following the 11:30 A.M. Mass (which will be our Mass for Disabled Persons).  The picnic serves at least three purposes: 1) it is a chance to celebrate our parish, 2) it is an opportunity for our parish community to come together, 3) it is a fun way to invite the local community to our parish.  If you can make it, please come even just to pray the Rosary.

6. This Monday, August 15 is the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Because it falls on a Monday this year, the Assumption is NOT a Holy Day of Obligation. Masses on the Assumption are at 8:00 A.M. (English),12:00 P.M. (Tridentine), and 7:00 P.M. (English)

Yours in Christ,
Fr. Acervo

Upcoming Parish Events

Father Acervo’s Corner: August 7, 2016

1. This Sunday, Archbishop Vigneron will be here to administer the Sacrament of Confirmation to some of our young people in the Extraordinary Form. This year, we have seven of our own plus one from the Latin Mass Community at Mother of Divine Mercy Parish in Detroit. Congratulations to our young people!  May the grace of this sacrament help you to grow in your faith so that you may have the strength to follow whatever path God leads you.

2. Back in April, the Archdiocese of Detroit hosted a conference called “The Amazing Parish” to talk about what makes vibrant and thriving parishes. The Church has always had challenges that needed to be faced, but the challenges that the Church faces today are unlike any other in her history. The Church is facing unprecedented persecution, many Catholics are indifferent to the faith or have fallen away altogether, and in some places there is confusion about what we believe as Catholics.

Archbishop Vigneron had asked every parish to participate, and each pastor was asked to select members of his parish to come to the conference as well.  I had asked Sharon Armstrong, Mike Mayer, and Mike and Rita Warfel to join me.  I’m not sure if any of us knew what to expect from the conference, but overall it was well received.  As a result of the conference, they will be making up our parish Leadership Team, which every parish was encouraged to form.  What is a Leadership Team?  To be honest, some throughout the Archdiocese are still discerning that question and how their Leadership Team will fit in the life of the parish.  Essentially, the Leadership Team is asked to help the pastor in implementing some of the principles that were talked about at the conference.  They will be helping the pastor to articulate the vision of the parish, to reflect on its purpose and values, and to find other leaders to help build up the life of the parish.  Here, it will differ from the Parish Council in that the latter shares with me what’s going on in the different groups throughout the parish, and together we discuss how their work can be assisted, whereas the Leadership Team will help me to reflect on the overall vision of the parish.

As I said earlier, I didn’t know what to expect from the conference.  I’ll be honest: my initial thought was, “Another program.  More meetings”.  But I think that this will give us an opportunity to clarify the direction that we should follow and where God is leading us.  In essence, it will help all of us to pull in the same direction.

3. Saturday, September 10 is our annual Golf Outing. We will once again be at the Black River Country Club. I hope that you will join me in supporting our golf outing this year.  Form a team and encourage your golfer friends to come.  Once again, there will be door prizes and raffles, food, and fellowship.  Proceeds will go to support formation programs throughout the parish.  For registration or more information, contact Mike and Jean Mayer at 810-385-8380.  Information will also be available shortly at the church as well.

4. Sunday, September 18 is our annual Parish Picnic following the 11:30 A.M. Mass until 5:00 P.M. Our celebration will begin with the Living Rosary. For those who have not seen it before, we will stand in the form of a rosary in the field in front of the parish hall, each person standing in place of a bead.  We will go around the rosary and at each bead, the person standing there will lead the prayer associated with that bead.  It’s a great opportunity to pray together in thanksgiving to God for our parish, and also to witness to others on the importance of prayer.  After the Rosary, we will have a chance to share in some great food.  There will be prizes and raffles, games for the children, music, a Euchre tournament, and some other surprises.

What we need…is you!  We are looking for everyone to get involved.  Soon, there will be a display board where you can sign up to help.  We will need people to take part in the Living Rosary, bring donations of food and supplies, and help with the games.  Most of all, we are looking for everyone to come and celebrate.  Hope to see you all there!

Yours in Christ,
Fr. Acervo

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

St. Edward on the Lake, Lakeport, MI | DOWNLOAD AUDIO
August 7, 2016
Wis 18:6-9; Heb 11:1-2, 8-19; Lk 12:32-48

Dear brothers and sisters, the message of the Holy Scriptures today is pretty clear, telling us all about faith – the true faith that each of us is called to strive for.  Abraham is given to us as an example of that faith.  Abraham is referred to in the holy Liturgy is “our father in faith”.  He had a great faith and commitment to the Lord.  He didn’t just say that He believed in God.  He didn’t just give God lip service by saying that he trusted in Him.  He put that faith into action.  He acted upon his faith.  He lived it.  He proved by action that he did in fact trust in God.

This kind of faith, which we are all called to have, is not an easy faith.  Saying that we believe in God is easy.  Saying that we trust in Him is easy.  But being a man or woman of faith where that faith informs and influences every action of ours is not easy.  There are too many temptations that we face, and we are weak human beings, and so sometimes we don’t live in such a way that we prove our trust in God.

In the First Reading from Wisdom, God makes it clear to His people that He established a convent with their ancestors, and He will also be faithful to that covenant.  Their job is to remain committed to the covenant as well.  If they are faithful, they will share in the inheritance promised by God.  If they are unfaithful, they will lose that inheritance.  And He reminds them of the Passover.  Their ancestors knew of the Passover that if they did everything that the Lord had asked them to do, they would be spared.  And that’s what happened.  They followed His commands, and they were saved.  And that’s the essence of faith.  While they couldn’t see the outcome, they trusted in the Lord’s promise that they would be saved if they were obedient to Him.

And here, I want to speak a little about faith and religion.  Because the prevailing thought in the culture today is that one can believe in God – and even love God – without taking part in any religion, and that’s OK.  In other words, there is still a place for faith in our culture, but religion is in some sectors thought of as irrelevant.  This category of people is sometimes referred to as “nones”.  Some of them say that they are atheists, but most believe in God, but also say that religion is less important in their lives.  This group is growing and is also becoming less and less religious.  These are also sometimes known as the “spiritual but not religious” crowd.  Some are strongly opposed to organized religion.  So are they right?  Can a person have faith without religion?  Is religion irrelevant?  Are we seeing the death of organized religion right before our very eyes?

Well as we’ve already heard in the First Reading, God requires from us a commitment to Him.  He has bound Himself to us through the covenant that He established; we are to bind ourselves to Him.  Again, not simply by saying that we love Him, but by showing it (This, by the way, is true of any relationship.  One cannot just say that he/she loves his/her spouse; he/she must show it).  Well, the word “religion” means, “to bind”.  Religion is how we bind ourselves to God.  Through the teachings of religion, we grow in our knowledge of the one to whom we are to bind ourselves.  Through the moral directives of religion, we come to know how we are to act in order to be pleasing to Him.  Through worship and prayer, which make an important part of any religion, we give God the love, time, and attention that He deserves.  Religion shows us how we are to relate to God.  Religion makes a meaningful relationship with God possible.  Otherwise, without religion, our relationship with God exists on our terms alone.  If I decide that I don’t have to go to Mass, that’s OK.  If I decide that contraception is OK, that’s OK.

The parable of the wicked steward in the Gospel today is a great parable for us to meditate on.  The master is away, and the stewards are in charge.  When the master returns, it is the faithful steward who is doing what the master had asked him to do.  The wicked steward, however, willfully chooses not to do what the master asks.  He knew his master’s will, but did not act in accord with it.

Every day, we have the choice to be either one of the two stewards.  We can be faithful to the Lord and His ways, and be prepared and ready to welcome Him when He comes, or we can ignore Him and not do what He has asked us all to do choosing instead to live on our own personal terms.  It’s easier to do the latter, to ignore what the Divine Master has asked of us and to continue on with what we and the world think is right.  That’s the easy way, which is why more and more people are taking that way.  But what does Jesus say?  “The gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many”.[1]  Instead, He says enter through the narrow gate, “For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few”.[2]

Religion is hard.  It’s very demanding.  It requires commitment, sacrifice, and most of all, a willingness to acknowledge that salvation is on His terms not mine.  Many people today don’t want to yield, that’s why more and more are abandoning religion.  They may believe in God.  They may genuinely love Him.  But they want to approach Him on their terms.  This does not mean that religion is irrelevant.  In fact, it is more important now than ever before because it is through religion that discover His terms and find the path that He want us to follow.

What is needed is an infusion of humility, a humility that says along with Our Blessed Mother, “May it be done to me according to your Word”.  Abraham didn’t just say that he trusted God; He was willing to leave everything behind to go where the Lord had sent Him.  In other words, he put his faith in action by following the path that God had set for Him.

We should be thankful that we have religion, that God through His Church has given us the way by which we can reach Him.  May we persevere in that way by living our faith not just by words but through faithful action.

[1] Mt 7:13

[2] Mt 7:14

11th Sunday After Pentecost (EF)

St. Edward on the Lake, Lakeport, MI | DOWNLOAD AUDIO
July 31, 2016
1 Cor 15:1-10; Mk 7:31-37

He groaned and said to him: Ephpheta, that is, Be thou opened: and immediately his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spoke right.

In many ways, we are a lot like the man whom Our Lord heals in the Gospel today, that is to say, we are not opened.  Our ears, and our tongues, and our eyes may be working just fine in the physical sense, but the eyes and ears of our faith may not be so well.  Much like we have physical senses, we have spiritual senses as well.  But because of sin and pride and attachment to worldly things, sometimes our spiritual senses can become dulled.  We may long to see and hear Jesus, but if our spiritual senses are clouded, then we are unable to do so.

Sin is an offense against reason, and so when we sin, we sin against the Truth that we long to know.  We actually obscure truth to the point that we can no longer recognize it.  Pride is the excessive love of self especially to the point that we love ourselves more than God.  Pride causes us to think only of ourselves and not of God, and ultimately, pride causes us to forget about God.  Attachment to worldly things divides the heart until we no longer think of God.  Jesus says, “you cannot serve both God and mammon”.  If our hearts are set on worldly things, we leave no room for God.

If we want our spiritual senses to be opened, so that we can receive God into our hearts, we need let go of sin, we need to practice humility to root out pride, and we need to detach ourselves from worldly things so that our hearts are not divided and we can focus solely on God.  In other words, we need to put ourselves in a position to receive the Lord’s grace and cooperate with it once we receive it.

If we fail to do these things, we are turning away from the Light.  St. Augustine once warned of what can happen when we turn away from that light: “Love for the shadows ends up making the eyes of the soul weaker and weaker. The eyes become unable to see the face of God. Therefore, the more a man gives into his weakness, the more he slips into darkness.”

We need to receive what Our Lord offers to us through His Church.  St. Paul says that the Gospel has been preached to us.  Are we paying attention?  Do we receive the Gospel and reflect on it?  The sacraments are freely available to us.  Do we take advantage of this great gift?  Are we putting ourselves in a position to receive them worthily by turning away from our sins and conforming our lives to the Church?

We also need to commit to a life of prayer.  We need to do more than just “say prayers”.  We need to be men and women of prayer.  Is prayer part of who we are?  Or do we wait until the last minute when we are too tired to pay attention to pray (if we pray at all)?  Through prayer and intimate communion with the Lord we can cultivate ears to hear the Lord speak to us in the recesses of our heart. Through living faith, we can receive the eyes to see Him revealed in the very human and real events of our daily lives.  Let us ask the Lord for the grace we need to persevere in the faith and avoid all that dulls our spiritual senses. As we receive the Lord Jesus today – as we read and reflect on His Word and feed on His Body and Blood in the Holy Eucharist – let us enter into the communion of prayer. Ask the Holy Spirit to open the ears of our hearts. Ask the Holy Spirit to open the eyes of our heart. Then we will see the Lord with eyes of living faith and hear Him as He speaks.

18th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

St. Edward on the Lake, Lakeport, MI | DOWNLOAD AUDIO
July 31, 2016
Ecc 1:2; 2:21-23; Col 3:1-5, 9-11; Lk 12:13-21

If you’ve been coming to Mass this week, or if you’ve been watching the Mass on EWTN, or listening to it on Catholic radio, or just following along in your daily Missal, you’ve been listening to Jesus preach on Heaven.  Last Wednesday, Jesus referred to the kingdom of Heaven as a “treasure” and also the “pearl of great price”, and we’ve been challenged to see Heaven as the thing that we value most.

All people value something.  All people hold something up as the thing that they live for or that one thing that they “can’t live without”.  For some, it’s money.  For some, it’s material things.  Some people value their career.  Some value popularity or status or the number of friends they have on Facebook.  Now none of these are necessarily bad in themselves, but what Jesus is saying is that if we want to follow Him, we cannot value any of these things above Heaven.  But not only that, He is also saying that we need to be careful that our desire for these things don’t turn into greed because greed can ultimately destroy us.

Greed one of the seven deadly sins.  It is the “excessive love of worldly things”.  It is the desire to accumulate and possess material things even beyond what is needed.  What makes greed so deadly is that it prevents us from loving God, it prevents us from loving our neighbor, and (believe it or not) it prevents us from even loving ourselves.

Greed prevents us from loving God because it leads to a divided heart.  Jesus said that we cannot love both God and mammon.  We will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other.  We can only give our heart to so many things, and if our hearts are devoted to some worldly thing, then there’s less that we can give to God.  And so greed keeps us from loving God as much as we should.

Greed prevents us from loving our neighbor because the more we are attached to something, the more reluctant we will be to surrender it to someone who might be in need of it.  Greed also makes us so focused on ourselves that we can’t focus on the needs of others.

And finally, greed prevents us from loving ourselves.  That might seem to be a contradiction until we realize that the more I fill my life with the things of the world, the less room I leave for God and the things of Heaven.  So by lusting after material things that pass away, I deny myself heavenly gifts that never pass away.  That’s why greed doesn’t make us happy; it makes us miserable because we’re never satisfied and we’re also never fulfilled.

It’s why the author of Ecclesiastes calls these things “vanities”.  It’s why St. Paul in the Second Reading says, “Think of what is above, not of what is on earth”.  And it’s why Jesus gives us the parable of the rich man in the Gospel today.  The rich man felt like he was secure because he had so much.  But in fact, he was not secure because he didn’t possess the things that mattered to God.  “Eat, drink, and be merry,” he said.  But then God said to him, “You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you”.  He will soon find out the meaning of the phrase “You can’t take it with you”.

Instead of living for the things that don’t matter, we are called to live (and even die for) the things that do matter.  We’re called to live for Heaven.  The Catechism calls Heaven “the ultimate end and fulfillment of the deepest human longings, the state of supreme, definitive happiness.”  It is the “communion of life and love with the Trinity, with the Virgin Mary, the angels and all the blessed”.  Sometimes, I will hear people say, “I know Uncle Bob is up there playing golf with his buddies”.  I’m sorry, but that’s such a poor understanding of Heaven.  I can play golf forever (and look, I love golf, but that just sounds like an eternity of frustration.  Or every shot is a hole-in-one, and that just sounds boring), or I can see God face to face, the joy of which is unimaginable.  I can be with Mary and all the saints and angels joining them in adoration.

But that’s what Heaven is.  It’s what we were made for, and it’s the only thing that will ever satisfy us.  We need to start thinking about Heaven and what Heaven truly is.  Because think about how different our approach to life would be if we really valued Heaven above all things.  The Summer Olympics start this week, and the thing that I like most is learning the stories about some of the athletes.  These athletes don’t just show up and start competing.  First, they made a decision that they wanted to be the best.  Second, the asked themselves, “What do I need to do to be the best?”  Third, they made sacrifices and they made changes in the way that they lived their lives.  Gold medals don’t just happen.  In the same way, Heaven doesn’t just happen, either.

At some point, I need to make the decision that I want to be a saint.  I want to get to Heaven.  I need to ask myself, “What do I need to do to get there?”  And then I need to ask myself what sacrifices do I need to make, what changes do I need to make in my life so that I can get there.  The decision to become a saint starts now.  It means making a commitment to pray hard and to live my faith with purpose.  It means turning away from sin and striving to think with the mind of God and with the mind of the Church even when it can be a challenge for me to do so.  These are what matter to God.  With eternal life as our motivation, let us value these things above all else.

"I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2:20).


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