Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Our Home is in Heaven

Today on the liturgical calendar is the Memorial of Saint Cornelius, pope and martyr, and Saint Cyprian, bishop and martyr.  

In his work on Mortality, Saint Cyprian writes about the faithful who "cannot be moved by worldly enticements" and are able to connect with the power of God within them to "shatter the turbulent onsets of the world and the raging waves of time."

On the flip side, Saint Cyprian, in that same writing, mentions those who "resist with less temptation and will not implement the divine power" and the invincibility of their heart.  

By means of our baptism we belong to Christ; but with that comes responsibility as explained by Saint Cyprian: "He who has begun to be already a man of God and of Christ, must be found worthy of God and of Christ." He expounds on that by teaching that in this earthly life we must already hope for divine things "so that we may have no trembling at the rising of storms and tempests of the world." 

In every age of human history the people of God have faced stress, disasters, tragedies, etc. As we often hear or even say ourselves: "Why? - How could a loving God allow such things?" Saint Cyprian reminds us: "Remember that the Lord had foretold these events would come and exhorted us with His foreseeing words. He prophesied about wars, famines and plagues, with the intention of strengthening the people of His Church for endurance of things to come; and lest an unexpected and new dread should shake us, He previously warned us that adversity would increase more and more in the end times. Behold, the very things occur which were spoken; and since those occur which were foretold before, whatever things were promised will also follow; as the Lord Himself promises, saying, ‘But when you see all these things come to pass, know that the Kingdom of God is at hand’" (Luke 21:31).

Most comforting, as we see and read daily the world's struggles, are the words of our Savior: "I am the Resurrection and the Life: he that believes in Me, though he die, yet shall live; and whosoever lives and believes in Me shall not die eternally" (John 11:25-26).

Saint Cyprian tells us not to forget that "we are passing through death to immortality; eternal life cannot follow, unless we depart from this life. That is not an end, but a transition, a journey through time, a passage to eternity." 

What we perhaps often forget is that we are "living here as guests and strangers." Saint Cyprian, in the midst of much grief caused by the headlining news of our modern day, finishes with a very joyous thought: "Our home is heaven. Our fathers are the patriarchs: why do we not hasten and run, that we may behold our country, that we may greet our true family? There are a great number of our dear ones awaiting us, and a dense crowd of parents, brothers, children, are longing for us, already assured of their own safety, and still solicitous for our salvation. What a great joy to attain to their presence and their embrace!"