Do we want to go to Heaven?
I'll bet you sit there scratching your head and wondering if I've gone soft in the head. Do we want to go to Heaven? Dumb question, of course, we want to go to Heaven...
Hold on there, "Whoa!" Not so fast. Do you really want to go to Heaven? You do, huh!? Well, then you better ask yourselves, what have I done to deserve this great honor? Did I show God every day this week, month or year, that I really want to go to Heaven? You see, my sisters and brothers, the choice if we wish to be with Jesus, Mary, and the Angels and Saints, and Blessed people, is totally ours to make.
Some people call on God in every prayer... please get me nearer to Salvation. Jesus died for us on the Cross so that we may be saved ... We have already been given the means to accept Salvation, through God's deep and complete love for us. But now there is that extra step, sort of the crux of the problem, you could say... Remember, Jesus asked us to repent, and sin no more! "Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away, and that the Lord may grant you times of refreshment and send you the Messiah already appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the times of universal restoration of which God spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old." (Acts 3:19-21).
Repent and Sin No More!
Every time we make use of the confessional, the Reconciliation Room, to submit ourselves before the Lord, represented by a priest, we lower our pride a notch or two, and say, Yes, Lord, I have sinned. Through the Grace of the Sacrament, with the firm amendment to sin no more, we ask and receive Reconciliation, and we feel and are relieved of the sin itself. God has forgiven us, and the Guilt is gone. But how many times, do we find ourselves going back again, week after week, or month after month to again confess the same sin? One of the hardest facts to convince people of is that sin can be stopped. Our Lord, in his infinite and caring Wisdom, has given us a free Will. He has given us free Will to please Him or to please Him not. That is up to us. No one, who has the firm commitment to not commit a particular transgression again, will do so. That's because our Will is God-given and it is strong. Well, you may ask, how then about temptation? What about Satan and his works of evil? We can fight Satan by just saying NO.
The "War on Drugs" may have coined the phase "Just say No," and that's fine. Fighting repeated sin is also a war, it is a war on the opiate of repetitious transgressions, offenses against Our Lord and Savior. We can all just say no! Yes, we can! - and those who are strong, they will say no and stop a particular sin! And God will be pleased!
An old priest told me that young people totally addicted to cocaine, who have a burning desire to stop using this substance that kills indiscriminately, will stop. Initially maybe 10 minutes or an hour. The following day for a longer time period, until one day, the pull of addition is no longer there and they will be cured. Sin is also an addiction. Sin once, well it's not OK of course, but it hasn't become an addiction yet. But continue sinning, day after day, and pretty soon, your mind will come to believe that the world didn't stop spinning the first 20 times you committed that sin, so it is probably OK. And then, we make that terrible mistake by starting to generalize... for example, "This is not too bad, God understands." In the meantime, God is not pleased. And we, sinners that we are, sit there and insult Him day in, and day out, with a smug look on our face, somehow convinced that God really doesn't mind. And as Catholics, very often we sin seriously and continue receiving Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist. That's a sin, as well. We are never to receive Him unless we are in the State of Grace!
Remember the visual and highly detrimental removals of stone tablets or concrete stands that were emblazoned with the Ten Commandments? To those who perpetrate these illogical acts, do they really believe that when we do not see the Commandments, the negative value of sin would lessen? Or do they think that when we are no longer reminded that stealing is bad for the soul, that suddenly a big slice of the population will stop stealing? The Ten Commandments didn't go away. They are still there. They are emblazoned on our hearts, mind, and conscience! You cannot dismiss God's Law, and trying to do so, is a grave mistake.
Our Lord loves us deeply and personally. He wants us to be with Him in Heaven after we die. But while on earth, his Son, Jesus, has told us that residence in Heaven is not a given. It is not automatic. By dying on the Cross for our sins, Jesus has made it possible for us to be saved, but only if we use that God-given free Will for Him! When we continue to sin, day after day, we simply do not merit perpetual residence in Heaven, unless we seek forgiveness and unless we repent. Every time you catch yourself in repeated sin, you would do well to ask yourself: "Do I want to go to Heaven?" If you do, then repent, and sin no more! May the Blessings of Almighty God bring you to repentance and forgiveness once again.
God bless you, and keep you well!
© Fred Schaeffer, OFS
Secular Franciscan Order
Ordo Franciscanus Sæcularis
Divine Mercy Fraternity
Vero Beach, FL
Officers as of 1/10/2016
Fred Schaeffer, OFS
Helen Caldarone, OFS
Mary "Jean" McGovern, OFS
Jack Reddy, OFS
Donna Haro, OFS
Joanne Giordano, OFS
Fred Schaeffer, OFS