How do we stay connected to God’s world while living here?
If you’re like most believers, you grew up wanting to go to heaven. Our grade school catechism embedded that in our hearts and heads. In clear terms it reminded us that God created us to live here with one desirable goal: “When our time here was finished, we would be with him in Paradise.” However, as grade-schoolers, we didn’t have any understanding of what heaven was except “it was where God lived.”
When we got older and a little farther on our journey, we realized more about our purpose in life and our final destiny. We understood that this present moment has a direct connection with our final destination. This causes us to be more careful about the choices we make and how we treat others because we are aware that our choices determine our eternity.
We also see that love is our gateway to heaven. Why? God’s love brought us into life. He made us for himself and to live forever with him in his divine household. To insure this, he places a spark of his divinity in us which keeps us craving for God. Love then becomes our pass key to heaven. Returning God’s love to us and sharing God’s love with the others with whom we live.
The Norwegian people have a legend to explain this love. “Before God places the soul in each of us, God kisses us. We never forget the taste of that kiss, longing for the day when we receive it again.” This longing is embedded deeply in us. The theologian, Fr. Ronald Rolheiser, calls it “the holy longing.”
St. Francis De Sales also knew of this empty feeling, this holy longing for God, lying within us. Not because De Sales was an expert of Norwegian folk lore, but because he understood this inner core longing. He told his followers that this longing reminded them that there’s more to life than any brightly wrapped offerings the world offers.
De Sales encourages them to pursue devotion which for Francis is “true love of God.” In his book, The Introduction to the Devout Life, De Sales set a way of living Jesus’ great commandment: “…love God and love your neighbor as yourself.” His devotion is: the true Love of God and true love for God’s creation.
De Sales gives us a pure and simple way to love on earth which includes this simple measurement Jesus offers: “Love them as if you’re loving me.” Jesus adds “…with your whole mind, heart, and soul.”
St. Francis De Sales knows that what Jesus is asking and what he’s recommending is often difficult. He encourages us not to be overwhelmed by this mission. De Sales writes: “As we begin, we must not be disturbed at our imperfections, since for us perfection consists in fighting against them…Our victory does not consist in being unconscious of them but in not consenting to them, and not to consent to them is to be displeased with them.”
As we pursue suitable ways to prepare ourselves to receive again that long sought-after kiss of our God, ponder these words: “Our hearts are restless O Lord until we rest in You.” And God responds, “And so is mine until I rest with you!”
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Blessings, Fr. DeLillio