I will be away for ten days leading a group on a “Footsteps of St. Paul” pilgrimage in Greece. We will visit Athens, Corinth, Thessalonica, Ephesus, Philippi, and Patmos, among other locations. More than sixty of us are going, many from my own parish, some from other parishes within the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., and still others from elsewhere in the country. I ask for your prayers during our journey.
I have scheduled a series of posts to run during my absence, related to the four last things: death, judgment, Heaven, and Hell. In November, when we see the leaves fall and winter approach, we are mindful of the passing quality of this world and of the inevitability of these last things: we will die, face judgment, and spend eternity in either Heaven or Hell.
In a way, the last things are actually the first—in terms of importance. Consider that it is the destination that guides one on a trip. Each decision about which road to take or which turn to make is based on the journey’s end. Without a goal, we are lost; we wander aimlessly. Sadly, this is the way many live their lives: going here and there but without a real purpose or destination in mind. They are like leaves blown about by the wind, going wherever their passions or popular culture take them. Those of us who strive to live by faith must base all life’s decisions on our goal: Heaven. Does this course of action move me toward the goal or away from it? Does it help me or hinder me? I want to die loving God and my neighbor so that I can attain the beautiful glory of being with God and the saints forever.
St. Paul said, This one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize of God’s heavenly calling in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13-14). This is the secret to a meaningful, productive, and holy life: knowing the one goal and subordinating all else in order to achieve it. It is so simple, yet it is so easy to get lost in the many distractions that complicate our life.
Meditation on the four last things helps us to refocus on the fact that our life is heading somewhere. We all will die, face judgment, and ultimately be forever in Heaven or Hell.
As for me, I am currently heading for Greece, but I pray, Lord, that this trip will draw me closer to the goal of knowing, loving, and serving you in this life so as to be happy forever in Heaven with you. Amen.