Today when we arrived at Mass there was only one pew that was empty enough that we could all sit together. It was the back row of all places! Imagine, in a Catholic church, the back pew was still empty ten minutes before Mass. Some would call that a miracle. Actually what it was was that the wonderful couple who usually sits there wasn’t at Mass today. It turned out to be a real blessing to have that back row seat because Father’s homily was on the reading of the raising of Lazarus (for the third Scrutiny for any parish with someone in the RCIA.) He talked about death, heaven, and seeing our loved ones again. Going to Mass is hard enough these days, but to try and hold it together today was particularly difficult and having the privacy of the back pew was a relief. Thankfully I wasn’t so sure of myself that I didn’t bring my usual jumbo size bag of Kleenex.
Father’s homily reminded me of Peter Kreeft’s book, “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Heaven”. I purchased it for my Kindle last week when I could no longer get it at the library. Mr. Kreeft takes a stab at explaining heaven though he well knows the Scripture passage: “Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has the mind conceived what God has ready for those who love Him.” It’s very much a philosophical book and after Chapter Five most of it is going right over my head. It takes concentration to read it and understand and I seem to be lacking in the concentration department. But in Chapter Five he talks about the Communion of Saints and the ‘communal nature of heaven’. He suggests that there are some earthly problems solved by this concept of heavenly communion and one of them is the problem of injustice – “the unjust distribution of pleasures and pains, opportunities and rewards on earth.” He says:
“The sharing of lives in Heaven would also deal with the injustice of premature deaths, especially those of children – an infinitely harder problem than death in general. Those children could receive in Heaven all the earthly experiences of growing in love and learning that they were denied on earth, through the sharing of lives in the Communion of Saints. God is an equal opportunity employer, and He outfoxes the Devil’s invention of death; no one is denied earthly learning, but some postpone it until Heaven. Perhaps the children’s Heavenly tutors would be their own parents, whose deprivation of children would be compensated for by the same Heavenly device that compensates the children for their deprivation of their parents. It would be quite in the divine style.”
I’m fully aware that Mr. Kreeft is speculating but still the idea is ‘heavenly’. And if such an idea is something man can conceive then how much more will heaven be? When missing Bernadette threatens to be intolerable, it helps a lot to imagine heaven and focus on where Bernadette is and what she might be doing instead of what she isn’t doing – being here with us. It certainly doesn’t take the pain away but it’s like putting Ozonol on a burn, it gives a little bit of relief. The other thing it does is it increases the desire in me to grow in holiness (God willing of course) so that when it is my time to go home, that I don’t have a long stop in purgatory before seeing Bernadette again.
Today is another “first”. As soon as Zoe wakes up from her afternoon nap, we’re heading down to Marc’s parents for supper to celebrate Pepe’s birthday. It reminds me of previous years where Bernadette would sit on Pepe’s lap while he opened his presents and blew out his candles.
Thank you for continuing to bless us with your insights, friendship, and allowing us to share in the struggle that is bringing you mysteriously closer to God. Love, Ken and Janine Kessler
Keep in mind that if the scenario that Mr Kreeft outlines is real – or even somewhat like he describes – that Bernadette will be growing up with her Uncle Ron alongside or at least somewhere near her. Both free of the burden of illness and pain that each of them went through before their entry to heaven. Thanks Patti for sharing Mr Kreefts words. Nice.