Heaven on Earth

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We long for heaven.  Sometimes we forget we can have it right here on earth, thanks to the Mass!

Pope John Paul II said that Mass is heaven on earth.  Scott Hahn wrote a whole wonderful book about it.  When we praise God at Mass, we are praising Him with the angels.  When we watch bread and wine become the body and blood of Jesus and receive the Eucharist, we are one with Jesus.  What could be more heavenly?

Walter Ciszek, an American Jesuit priest, volunteered to go to Poland in the late 1930s, as the shadow of war and Naziism swept across Europe.  As the Germans invaded Poland and the Soviet Union began its crushing march across eastern Europe, Ciszek fled with other Polish refugees into the Soviet Union, where he secretly said Mass and ministered as priest.  He was eventually arrested by the Soviet police on the pretense of being a spy and held for years in a notoriously horrific prison.  From there he was sent to Siberia to serve 15 years of hard labor.  During this time of extreme suffering, he turned to those around them and cared for them in their suffering.  He risked all to celebrate Mass.

“We said Mass in drafty storage shacks, or huddled in mud and slush in the corner of a building site foundation,” Ciszek wrote.  “Yet in these primitive conditions, the Mass brought you closer to God than anyone might conceivably imagine.”

Heaven was on earth.  Even in a shack in the mud in a Soviet prison camp.

As I pace at Mass with a crying infant or carry his toddler sister out in the midst of a tantrum, let me always remember that even then, in that seemingly challenging moment, I am in the midst of Heaven on earth.  Jesus is everywhere and can be present for everyone.  And Heaven is right here if we open our hearts to it.

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