Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Insight from All Saints & All Souls

As we celebrated All Saints' Day on Tuesday, I reflected upon last Sunday's Gospel reading. Our archbishop, who just returned from the Synod at the end of the year of the Eucharist, gave the homily that Sunday. It was a classic message of observance of the law vs. 'living it out'. It used to be clearly simple to me: love your God and love your neighbor. This law which Jesus left us, was a fulfilment of the Old Testament laws and customs.

Today I realized something for the first time about the saints. Most of us (I and most of the people I know anyway) go about life hoping that the end of it, we wouldn't end up in hell, and the other place to be would be, Heaven, of course. And that's it. Perhaps there's something wrong with me; I felt that my embrace of Christianity hadn't permeated strongly enough to see "the other side". There was something missing. Something was revealed to me today.

The saints wanted Heaven. The saints wanted God. GK Chesterton, in his short biography of St Thomas Aquinas wrote that St Thomas reportedly said "Thee" when God, in his vision, asked what he wanted (as a reward for his devotion). And so it was in other saints' lives too: they wanted God actively, and not because having Him is a consequence of not ending up in hell. St Therese of Lisieux was supposedly wishing her parents death so that they may go to heaven!

And today at the Mass for All Souls, Fr JJ's homily about the "faithful departed" as actually the "faithful returned (to God's house)", brought home this theme forcefully. I shed tears and said prayers for the living instead. I had understood (before) that life on earth is but a speck in our life's continuum, and that our true patria is Heaven itself. Yet how much time I have wasted agonizing over life's uncertainties, living as if "this (life) is it", and treating Heaven as if it were a luxurious retirement home—admission is difficult—with the catch that I pretend I'd never have to retire until time really bring me to that day of reckoning!

This attitude that denies the finite-ness of our lives was my downfall. It made for a lukewarm faith; one that settles for a minimalist dogma and very little thinking, because all around me things scream that God doesn't matter; faith is irrelevant and is not meant to be imposed on anyone but yourself. This week, it is going to change.

While I'm at this post, I'd also like to point out that this blog isn't going to get updated that often; I've discovered silence is beneficial more often than speech :)

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