But then there breaks a yet more glorious day:
The saints triumphant rise in bright array.
The king of glory passes on his way (from Hymn for All the Saints).
Our saints are living proofs that there is life after death. Their lives show us that a life of virtue, compassion and personal generosity to others is well worth the effort to live now as we hope to live hereafter. This will be possible if we have a faith relationship with Jesus, because heaven is actually a continuation of our friendship with Christ here. If we are not friends with him now, we won’t enter future life with him. If he was a stranger here, why would you suddenly discover him after death. “As we live so shall we die.” Life here is the school of faith. Death is graduation day. The diploma is heaven for those who did their homework on faith, love, morality, prayer.
Read the lives of the saints. See how they behaved. St. Therese of Lisieux died at age 24. Not much time to win heaven. Her secret? “To gain heaven I will spend my life in doing good upon earth. I will make love of God and people the center of my life at every moment.” She became so popular after her death that the Vatican had to shorten the process of canonizatiom. One cardinal said, “We must hasten to canonize her, else the people will do it themselves.” She lived heaven on earth. Why be surprised that she lives it there? She called her spirituality, “My Little Way.” It may have been little, but it produced big results, an approach available to every person reading this column.
If you want to go to heaven you need to start yearning for it now. You should not only want to be with the saints, you should be aware that God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit and Christ’s mother, Mary, and choirs of angels and saints long for you to come. Their longing stirs our longing. Hope to enjoy their happiness. That will motivate you. St. Bernard writes that “We should not only long to be with the saints, we should also want to possess their happiness. While we desire to be in their company, we must also earnestly seek to share in their happiness” (Liturgy of the Hours, Volume Four, pages 1526-27).
This earth, this particular life span is not our whole story. It is a gift from God who honors us with the privilege to ponder our heavenly future, to raise our eyes and hearts beyond the stars, beyond the heights of mountains, beyond our petty earthly trials anticipates the pleasure of a happiness that surpasses anything our imagination can achieve. Saints have done just that. They believed what Jesus said and “Wow!” look at what can happen.
May all your saints bless you, Lord.
Norbertine Fr. McBride is a popular lecturer and author of more than 40 books.