As Holy Week approaches I thought I would look at the Four Last things; death, judgement, Heaven and hell. I think Holy week lends itself to these. On the Saturday before He enters Jerusalem, Jesus shows His power over death by raising Lazarus. On the Second day of the week, Jesus cleanses the Temple passing judgement on those who prevented prayer in the holy place., and on the Temple itself. We catch a glimpse of hell on Spy Wednesday when Judas sells Jesus and again when he hangs himself. We see Christ bring Heaven to earth on Thursday as He gives Himself in the form of bread and wine. His love and Passion give us a chance of Heaven. We then see the price of sin on Friday and the harrowing of hell- opening the gates of Heaven on Holy Saturday.
Something odd has happened to Christians where they fear death, avoid suffering and resent those who are chosen by God to carry the extra burden that they have refused to carry. Those who refuse to serve, face spending eternity with the one who first refused to serve. But many Christians no longer believe in hell and certainly do not believe anyone goes there. As the Church has never said who is there, they argue this means no one is. Jesus spoke strongly in warning about hell. Many saints have received visions, or even been taken to see hell. They have never found it empty.
To reach heaven we must obey God in all things. We must take up our cross and be must serve, even when, or especially when, we find it inconveniant. It may seem hard. But St Teresa of Avila wisely noted that what seems easy at first soon leads to misery as we slide ever faster down hill, but what seems difficult and daunting at first, becomes a light task under His care and grace as we climb ever closer to Him. I often wonder when we say the Confitior at Mass whether it is sins that are done, that get us into trouble, or those things we did not do, those words we did not say, that we will find needs purging.
Meanwhile I have found this well read audio of St Therese of Lisieux’s The Story of a Soul. It’s a good recipe for getting to heaven 🙂