2cornucopias

The Good Die Young

In 13 Today's Church on 2015/05/10 at 12:00 AM

 

  • When she awoke on Good Friday in 1896, the saint we know as the Little Flower, St. Thérèse of Lisieux, found blood all over her pillow, the result of a growing case of tuberculosis.
  • While most people would be horrified to awake to a sign of the onset on an incurable and fatal disease, St. Thérèse was actually delighted and referred to this event as “the call of the Bridegroom.”
  • The Little Flower knew from the blood on her pillow that she was going to die, and she rejoiced that soon she would be going to see the One whom she loved so ardently.
  • And indeed she did: 18 months later, after a very long and painful battle with tuberculosis, the Little Flower passed into the joys of heaven with a radiant and peaceful smile on her face at the young age of 24.
  • One common characteristic that one often finds amongst many of the saints who died young is that they actually desired to die young.
  • This desire amongst some of the saints to die at a young age is not borne out of any sense of self-loathing or lack of love for life. Rather, their love for God is so strong that they want to be with Him as soon as possible, and they’ve prepared themselves well for Heaven.
  • Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity, whom I mentioned last week in talking about the divine indwelling, is another one of these saints. At the age of 14 she prayed to our Lady while on pilgrimage for the grace to die at an early age.
  • Like so many saints in our Church’s history, Blessed Elizabeth fixed her mind and heart firmly on Heaven, meditating constantly on the heavenly realities that await those who love our Lord and keep His word.
  • And through her constant meditation on our Lord and the joys of Heaven, she came to desire nothing else than to please Jesus and to be with Him.
  • And even though she died a very painful death like St. Thérèse, Blessed Elizabeth suffered and died with great joy and peace. She was 26.
  • Contemplating the joys of Heaven and seeking true peace are the two primary themes of our readings today, and they are related themes because we will only experience the fullness of peace in Heaven.
  • Through our readings today Holy Mother Church is inviting all of us seek out that peace that only our Lord can give. While it isn’t necessary for us to desire death at a young age in order to find peace in Heaven, it is necessary for us to prepare ourselves for Heaven.
  • And in preparing ourselves for Heaven and searching out that peace that only our Lord can give, Holy Mother Church directs us to meditate upon the heavenly realities.
  • You see, our minds and hearts are formed and shaped by what we choose to dwell upon. If we subject ourselves to meditating on the things of Heaven, we will naturally begin to desire Heaven and begin working toward it by pursuing a life of holiness.
  • In this process reading good literature, listening to sacred music, visiting sacred places, and enjoying media and art that inspires one to pursue holiness and virtue can be extremely helpful.
  • When we surround ourselves with wholesome media, good books, and true beauty expressed through art and architecture, our hearts and minds are naturally elevated and ennobled.
  • These things not only help to form our character, but they also help to create a holy hunger within our souls that compels us to seek out that which is true, good, and beautiful – a hunger that will eventually lead us to God, Who is the source of all that is true, good, and beautiful.
  • That which is true, good, and beautiful naturally makes us long for Heaven and increases within us a genuine love for our Lord, and it brings us His peace.
  • But the converse is also true. If we constantly focus our attention on the things of earth: money, power, sex, materials goods and the like, we will desire only the things of earth and never develop a taste for Heaven, nor will we find peace.
  • If we indulge in literature, music, and media that glorifies lust, greed, and violence, our hearts and minds will never be formed in virtue. To the contrary, we will be deformed.
  • That’s the danger posed by the pervasive pornography and violent movies, television, and video games that so afflict our culture today. We may tell ourselves that these things are really harmless, but that’s a lie that can put us into a very precarious position.
  • Media suffused with pornography and violence is a poison straight from the pits of hell that is highly addictive and that will slowly rob us of any virtue or love for God we might possess and eventually damn our souls, killing any chance for eternal peace.
  • In addition to being vigilant about the types of media, art, literature and music that we expose ourselves to, when it comes to preparing ourselves for Heaven, we must also take great pains to our nourish ourselves with prayer and the sacraments.
  • My dear brothers and sisters, you must understand this: going to Heaven is not something that we can just presume upon simply because we think we are “good” people.
  • While God desires that all of us go to Heaven when we die, we must choose it and prepare ourselves for it now.
  • Thus, Heaven is a goal that we must shoot for! If we think of it in sports terms, protecting ourselves from those people, places, and things that lead us away from a life of virtue and holiness is our defensive game.
  • Spending quality time each day praying and receiving the sacraments worthily and frequently is our offense.
  • Last weekend we had 50 children receive their first Holy Communion here. One of the things that I explained to the kids is that when we come forward to the foot of the sanctuary to receive Holy Communion, we are coming to the very gates of Heaven.
  • The communion rail is our symbolic demarcation between Heaven and earth. When we come forward to receive our Lord, we truly come to Heaven’s edge and receive in our Lord a taste of Heaven. Thus, Holy Communion is our best preparation if we hope to go to Heaven.
  • Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity and St. Thérèse of Lisieux both desired to die young because they loved Christ and were well prepared for Heaven. And they were well prepared because they were both in such intimate contact with our Lord through prayer and the sacraments.
  • Let us pray that through their intercession we may protect ourselves from all evil influences; surround ourselves with all that is true, good, and beautiful; increase our prayer lives; and always receive the sacraments worthily and with great love and devotion.
  • My brothers and sisters, always remember: Heaven is our goal. And if we do not aim for it, we are bound to miss it.

 

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