AGUILERA: Our personal ‘autumn’ prepares us for Heaven, our true home!

November 13, 2018

Autumn is finally in full swing! There is no other time of year that identifies more with my ministry than this season. The season of changes and transitions.

October brought us the joy of some fresh air. There’s a nip in the wind that gently caresses our face indicating a new season has arrived. Trees have started turning different shades of brown, yellow and orange, and losing their leaves. It gets darker earlier. The nights are longer making us contemplate the beauty and glow of the harvest moon longer.

The fall season invites us to settle in from our busy lives. Our body naturally starts slowing down. And our minds gradually start calming down from the long summer days.

This time of year is unique. It brings rest, repose and reflection of our journey. Even St. Paul acknowledges the richness of this time of year in 1 Corinthians 16:6 “and perhaps I shall stay or even spend the winter with you, so that you may send me on my way, wherever I may go.” In a way our life is this way. Its changes brings us closer to our journey. It’s a time where everything around us transforms in its beauty before the grand finale; somehow, this grand finale could be our journey to Heaven!

As the leaves from the trees change color, we are invited to look at our lives and allow God to transform our hearts and minds to reflect the beauty he has in store for us. This is a time to embrace and reflect on our walk with the Lord, a time to prepare our soul for our journey to be with Him. As our life goes through changes, we have the opportunity to nourish it and prepare for our grand finale, our death.

Part of making us whole is dying to self. It’s a stage in our existence which all of us will go through. It is perhaps the ultimate stage of growth. Death is inevitable, and yet is a subject none of us like to confront. Talking about death, purgatory, and eternity is never easy and somehow we have failed to embrace that along the way. Talking about these issues causes us to face our own mortality and runs head-on into the fact that we will not be on earth forever. 

Death is surely the end of our physical life but definitely not of our immortal soul. Our Christian faith grants us the hope in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We do not hear too much on death, purgatory, Heaven or hell anymore. The commercialization of Dia de los Muertos in recent years has made it a little more inviting to celebrate the lives of our dear relatives and friends that have gone before us.

Hardly do we ever hear about praying for their souls to get to Heaven, or praying for them to leave purgatory. Praying through the Communion of Saints as members of one Body, the Body of Christ, allows us to share spiritual benefits that will help them in the purification of their souls to make their way to Heaven. 

Tradition says that St. Thomas the Apostle was preaching when he met a king that wanted a palace built for him. The king paid St. Thomas to build it and left for two years. Upon the king’s return, he was disappointed that there was no palace made for him and put St. Thomas in jail with the intent to kill him.

The king’s brother, who had been dead, appeared to the king in a dream and told him that St. Thomas indeed had built a palace for him in Heaven. Apparently St. Thomas told the king that “in heaven there are countless palaces prepared from the beginning of time and they are won by prayer and almsgiving.” How beautiful to have saints building palaces for us in Heaven.

As we honor the saints and the souls of the faithful departed this month, may they remind us of our palace prepared for us in Heaven. May we live every day envisioning the joy to be in the beautiful palace with the Lord. May we prepare our soul to reach Heaven, our true home. †

Elsa Aguilera is the associate director of Family Transitions at the Archdiocesan Office of Family Life Ministry.