Monday, December 15, 2014

Death and Loving Those in the World Beyond

by M. J. Joachim

Christians by definition believe in the hope of joining Jesus in heaven some day. We know there is life beyond the limits of the body, and that our souls continue living through the end of time. That’s why it’s so difficult for me to understand how some Christians fault catholics for believing in saints. Saints are people who have died, people who have gone before us and made their peace with God. Prayer is a form of communication with God and those who have gone before us.

We call children who die at a young age angels. We speak of talking to our loved ones after they have departed this earth. There’s nothing newsworthy about it. We talk to our deceased loved ones all the time. Most people are not virtuous or pure enough to make it into the realm of being called saints, but a few have paved the way, making it possible for us to revere them as role models we try to emulate them as best we can. This is not foolish behavior on our part, but rather normal, acceptable human behavior, just as is praying to God and listening to Him in our hearts.

When you pray, go to your inner room. Through prayer, we are invited to have a relationship with God from the very depths of our being. As we journey to our inner room, inviting God into our most intimate selves, we discover who we are called to be. We are saints in the making, people who love God, and desire to be one with Him.

Many of us have not accepted our true calling. Some of us will spend our entire life trying to live up to it. A few of us have been graced with the privilege of modeling it for the rest of society. These people, saints, deserve our respect and gratitude. They should rightfully take their place as friends who have helped us find our way.

When a loved one dies, we do not hide their pictures, and forget their existence. More often than not, we realize the impact they actually had on our lives. Sometimes this causes regret, or guilt to surface. Many times, it forces us to deal with subconscious emotions that have been buried deep within us for far too long. Healing becomes a necessity, as we make peace with the physical loss of someone who is dear to us.

We find ourselves thinking about our family member or friend. We wonder if they know we miss them. In the deepest part of ourselves, we realize that our relationship has changed, not ended. We wait with patience and longing for the day when we will meet again. We also talk to them when no one is around. We tell them our struggles and smile, offering them a share in our success. We keep them close to us, in the deepest part of our hearts, promising never to forget them.

Saints are included in our family of loved ones. They are people who have made a difference in our lives by the way they lived. They are people who have helped us achieve our goals of becoming better Christians. When we learn about their trials and challenges during their lives, we realize that we have a lot in common with them. An intimate relationship develops as we get to know them as real people.

Catholics don't really pray to saints. Catholics get to know saints, through desire, need or curiosity, and develop a relationship with them. We discover what we have in common with individual saints. We learn how they conquered weaknesses, or faced discrimination. We applaud their strengths, and find courage as we strive to become like them. We invite them to share in our struggles for the greater glory of God.

Saints are role models for the living. You don't have to be Catholic to learn from them, or ask for their help. Mother Teresa's picture did not get buried with her body. She lives on, and the people who get to know her are happier for it. Pope John Paul II will never be forgotten. He will continue to share the gifts he received from God with those who seek them. Saint Anthony is called upon by many to find a lost article from time to time. Saint Christopher is requested to help us travel safely. Faithful people are called upon in faith, not to dishonor God or take credit for His goodness, but to help us as we continue on our journey toward Him.

Advent is a time of preparation and opening our hearts up to the gifts God desires to share with us. As we participate in this Advent season and as Christmas rapidly approaches with the celebration of the Birth of Christ, may we too experience the miracle of the season and enjoy the love and deep longing Jesus has to be one with us, that we too may desire to be one with Him and all He has put into place here and in the world beyond.

I’m really glad you stopped by today. Your visits, comments and encouragement are very much appreciated. Thank you!

M. J.

©2014 All Rights Reserved Photo credit: The Age of Augustus Birth of Christ, Jean-Leon Gerome (1952-54) Getty Center, Creative Commons CCO 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication, Wmpearl