“Heaven is a city on a hill, hence we cannot coast into it; we have to climb,” so says the Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen.
Heavenly citizenship is possible because of Catholicism. Catholicism is not a philosophy, an academic enterprise, or a library of rules. Catholicism is the interaction of love between God and man, the quality of which depends on man’s response to the Divine invitation, “I love you. Do you love me?” We climb or crumble with our answer.
Mutuality and reciprocity are essential to love – giving and, at the same time, receiving an act of love. This reciprocity of love between God and man defines the citizenship of heaven. Herein lies the simplicity and the difficulty of Catholicism.
In the beginning, man was given himself (and all of the universe, too!) as a gift of the love of God. Man, in his shortsightedness, did not reciprocate the love of the Giver. Selfishness shriveled man’s relationship with God and Adam condemned the universe to desolation. Then, miracle of miracles, the Lover offered another Gift, simpler and more zealous – one that only a lover would see – and opened again the pathway to heaven.
The parable of the sower tells of the bountiful harvest that comes from responding to God’s love. Where God’s love takes root, a taste of heaven springs forth and satisfies those who search it out. But Christians know that the pilgrimage of Faith is no walk in the park. It is a steady climb of great love toward the Lord. No simpler or more difficult a task exists than putting one foot in front of the other on a long journey. The pilgrim walks through this Vale of Tears from one Garden to the next until he comes to the prepared place.
“The pilgrim Church” is not a metaphor. Just last year, 10,000 pilgrims walked the 60 mile Paris-Chartres Pilgrimage, over 200,000 walked at least 62 miles of the Way of St. James, more than 100,000 walked over 215 miles to Częstochowa, Poland for the Feast of the Assumption, not to mention those millions who traveled to Fatima, Rome, Jerusalem, Guadalupe, Lourdes and other places where the Lord has done great things for us.
Our response to God’s love should inspire pilgrimages across the globe, but it must motivate a shorter and daily pilgrimage to that flickering red flame within the nearest Catholic Church – where God literally dwells among us.
Posted by Grant Freeman in Bar Talk: News, Tech, etc., The Adventure, The Prayer