Hop to it

A Jesuit formator who guided me in my spiritual journey before I joined the Marian Fathers had a favorite saying. It was, "HOP to it!"
By "HOP," he meant "humility," "obedience," and "poverty."
We can all embrace that maxim, especially in this year in which we Holy Souls Sodality members are celebrating St. Joseph. Like St. Joseph, each of us needs to hop to it - to live our lives with the goal to bring ourselves and others to Heaven. That requires our humility; our obedience to the Holy Spirit; our awareness of our poverty and utter dependence on God; and our prayers
for ourselves and our loved ones.

I was reminded of "Hop to it" as I recently read the new Marian Press book After Suicide: There's Hope for Them and for You by Fr. Chris Alar, MIC, and Jason Lewis, MIC. I want to share with you a brief excerpt from the book that underscores the "Hop to it" maxim

As the Baltimore Catechism states, we're meant for Heaven. We're meant to be saved. So what will Heaven be like? We do have Scripture, Tradition, and the teachings of the Magisterium, philosophers, and theologians over the centuries to help us better understand it. The Church offers us a glimpse of what Heaven will be like: "Those who die in God's grace and friendship and are perfectly purified [whether in this life, or in the next life in Purgatory] live forever with Christ. They are like God forever, for they 'see him as he is,' face to face" (CCC, 1023).

What does it mean to see God "face to face?" Doesn't the Bible say that no man has seen the face of God? Yes, but the Bible also says we will see God, as Scripture points out in Revelation 22:4. Tim Staples, former Southern Baptist and convert to the Catholic faith, explains this apparent contradiction. He says that this doesn't mean we will see God with our physical eyes, as He is pure spirit, but rather with our intellectual minds:

In other words, man cannot see God in any sense with his natural powers. The saints and all of the blessed can be said to have "seen" and that they do "see" the divine essence with a directly intuited, intellectual vision.

This is what we call the beatific vision, seeing God as He is once we behold Him in Heaven. As Staples explains, "[T]he Church teaches Heaven to be primarily a state rather than a place," so the beatific vision cannot be understood as people looking at God and then looking away from Him. "The blessed will be in a state of [contemplation] of God that is constant." ...

But this point leads to another question I often hear: "Father, I will never be happy in Heaven if all of my children are not there." In response, I would say that here on earth, we have only a dim sense of what Heaven will be like (see 1 Cor 2:9; 13:12), and so it is difficult for us to understand how we will experience things after death. But we are promised in Revelation 21:4 that God "will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away."

Since missing our loved ones would fall under the category of pain or mourning, God promises that He will wipe even that away. In Heaven, all will be well. We will be past the point of any kind of mourning. How? Hopefully we'll find out someday, when we're there. Therefore, our focus should be on bringing our living loved ones to Christ and praying for our deceased loved ones - so that they will be there, rather than worrying about how we can be happy if they aren't.

Our hope is that, through the mercy of God and our prayers, our loved ones will accept God in their last moments, pass swiftly through Purgatory with our intercession, and be waiting for us in Heaven. That's the point of this book.

We also have the testimony of the saints, who have a lot to say about Heaven. To get one "first-hand account" of what Heaven is like, let's turn again to St. Faustina, who was given a glimpse of this incredible reality:

Today I was in Heaven, in spirit, and I saw its inconceivable beauties and the happiness that awaits us after death. I saw how all creatures give ceaseless praise and glory to God. I saw how great is happiness in God, which spreads to all creatures, making them happy; and then all the glory and praise which springs from this happiness returns to its source; and they enter into the depths of God, contemplating the inner life of God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, whom they will never comprehend or fathom.

This source of happiness is unchanging in its essence, but it is always new, gushing forth happiness for all creatures. Now I understand Saint Paul, who said, "Eye has not seen, nor has ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man what God has prepared for those who love Him" (Diary, 777).

[A] vivid presence of God suddenly swept over me, and I was caught up in spirit before the majesty of God. I saw how the Angels and the Saints of the Lord give glory to God. The glory of God is so great that I dare not try to describe it, because I would not be able to do so, and souls might think that what I have written is all there is ... all that has come forth from God returns to Him in the same way and gives Him perfect glory (Diary, 1604).

God created us to be in communion with Him as His adopted sons and daughters. We are meant to be members of the Communion of Saints, all gathered together in Heaven for all eternity in joyful bliss. But to do this, to live in complete harmony with others, is demanding. To be in Heaven is to share in the life of God Himself, and the life of God is absolute, self-giving love. So even the slightest sin (self-love) gets in the way of that total self-gift. That's why no one imperfect in love will enter Heaven.

But that doesn't mean that all flawed people go to hell, either. (We are all flawed.) Often, Purgatory is needed for us to be cleansed of any defects or attachments that keep us from loving God with our whole heart. Purgatory is thus defined as the state of those "who die in God's grace and friendship" and are "indeed assured of their eternal salvation," but who still have need of purification to enter into the happiness of Heaven (CCC, 1030).

I highly recommend After Suicide: There's Hope for Them and for You. It's an excellent resource for members of the Holy Souls Sodality, particularly those who confront one of the worst tragedies a person can face: grieving the loss of a family member, friend, or neighbor to suicide.

There is, indeed, hope for the salvation of those who've died by their own hand, and hope for the healing of those whom they've left behind.

Let's hop to it, with Heaven in our sights!

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