When I was still pretty young (I don’t remember how young), I asked my parents what heaven was like. I know this question was on my mind for a good long while, because I know I got several different answers.
“We’ll be with Jesus there.” And would Zeek (recently missing pet) be there? “Everything we’ll need to be happy will be there.”
But what’s it like; I kept wondering. And finally I got an answer that I understood: “It’s like going to Mass, and being able to stay there forever.”
Now, I know what had to be going through my Mom’s head with that last answer. She was thinking of being with God, in that unique way that he is present in the Eucharist - and the superlative, perfect happiness that is present in the experience of receiving him in the right frame of mind.
This unfortunately was not apparent to my five-or-six-year-old brain. I heard, “It’s like going to church forever,” and my immediate thought was simply the same as any other small child: “Why would I want to go to church forever?”
Going to Mass as an analogy for heaven isn’t all that different from the relationship between the ritual sacrifices of the Jews and the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.
There are ways in which we do still kind of live in a type. We are waiting for the fulfillment of the kingdom, and we are waiting for God to take us to heaven.
Every time we go to mass, we participate in the heavenly banquet, but it’s just for a minute, and it’s not participation in the way we’ll participate when we’re there. For example, now we receive him, we do so behind a veil of bread and wine, because if we were to encounter him in the fullness of his presence, in our sinful states, we, like Isaiah, would legitimately be in terror for our very existence.
Just as Israel lived in a type of what the Kingdom of God in its fullness on this earth would be like, so, too, do we live in a type of what that heavenly banquet will be like.
Help us to have a more full appreciation for mass as a foretaste of the heavenly banquet that is to come.
Let it be that we experience more fully your presence at mass and in the Eucharist, and show us those things that prevent us from participating therein with our whole hearts.
This post is dedicated to the memory of Charles Michael, a child lost to abortion.
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