OF COURSE, money can really be attractive. It can mean a lot of things: a big house, a new car, luxury travels, latest smart phones and other gadgets, even impunity from the law. But one can always pray for grace so as not to be beholden to it. Yet it will still be a bit of rough sailing dropping the urge to become, as Lady Gaga would have it, material.
Some saints, rather, all of them, have advised looking far into the future. They have stressed the brevity of earthly life and the eternity of what comes next as inspiration to flee from worldliness, in the same way that some not-so-saintly espouse the expression “life is short” to promote hedonism for as long as the body lasts.
It is, however, true that seriously considering our continuing existence beyond the grave helps us to become more spiritual. Afterall, who on earth will not die? Loved ones have crossed the veil and so have friends and other strangers whose names and photos we see displayed at the frontages of funeral facilities.
The more pleasant side of the consideration is contemplation of Heaven, based on the accounts of those who were privileged to experience it and then went back to their bodies to give account of Heaven’s reality.
Consider, for instance, Don Piper, author of 90 Minutes In Heaven based on his life and death experience in 1989.
Piper was on his way home from a conference when his car was crushed by a semi-truck that crossed into his lane. Medical personnel said he died instantly. And that’s when he saw Heaven, before infusing into his body anew. He wrote:
“Looming just over the heads of the loved ones who had come to greet me stood an awesome gate interrupting a wall that faded out of sight in both directions. It struck me that the actual entrance was small in comparison to the massive gate itself. I stared, but I couldn’t see the end of the walls in either direction … The gate wasn’t made of pearls, but was pearlescent – perhaps iridescent … To me it looked as if someone had spread pearl icing on a cake. The gate glowed and shimmered.
“I paused just outside the gate, and I could see inside. It was like a city with paved streets. To my amazement, they had been constructed of literal gold. If you imagine a street paved with gold bricks, that’s as close as I can come to describing what lay inside the gate. Everything I saw was bright – the brightest colors my eyes had ever beheld – so powerful that no earthly human could take in this brilliance.
“It was the most beautiful and pleasant sound I’ve ever heard … I felt awestruck, wanting only to listen … It seemed like I was part of the music – and it played in and through my body … I felt embraced by the sounds … As I became aware of the joyous sounds and melodies that filled the air … I felt as if the heavenly concert permeated every part of my being … I call it music, but it differed from anything I had ever heard or ever expect to hear on the earth. The melodies of praise filled the atmosphere … the praise was unending … Praise was everywhere, and all of it was musical, yet comprised of melodies and tones I’d never experienced before.”
Four-year old Colton Borpo, whose father wrote the book titled Heaven is Real, also had seen Heaven after he died briefl y from an illness. He said: “Heaven is not scary – ever! There is no sun, but it never gets dark in heaven because the light of God is so bright. No one ever cries or is afraid in heaven. No one ever gets sad or mad. Everyone is happy there!”
Of course, we can’t lose track of the heavenly experiences of the still living (on earth) visionaries of Medjugorje which I had already written about frequently.
In early October of 1981, visionaries Vicka and Jakov were taken physically by the Blessed Mother to Heaven and here is what she said later:
“I was wondering how many days we would be traveling (to get to heaven), and whether we would go through the sky or the ground. Our Lady took my right hand and Jakov’s left hand and took us with her. We saw the ceiling opening, giving us just enough space to go through, and within the wink of an eye, we found ourselves in heaven. Heaven is one huge endless space. It has a brilliant light which does not leave it. There is a special kind of life that does not exist on the earth at all. We saw people dressed in pink, yellow, and gray gowns. Nobody was older than 33 years old. They were walking, praying, and singing, and there were small angels circling around. We saw people praying and singing, together in groups, but we could not understand what they were saying. It must have been some heavenly language. We experienced a special indescribable joy. Our Lady told us to have a good look at how overjoyed all those who were in heaven were. It was a special kind of joy that cannot be experienced on the earth. Everything is definitely so much more beautiful. When you are entering heaven, you experience an enormous feeling of separation from this life and enter a special new life.”
Visionary Geraldine from Australia had a very similar experience in November of 1989.
“Many things had been going wrong … I needed my grandmother who had partly raised me and was missing her very much. I needed advice, and I was still grieving for her (she had died in 1982). With tears streaming down my face, I was thinking of how we used to talk – and of her loving ways – my heart breaking as I wished she was still here.
“Then, to my surprise, I heard a woman’s voice speaking inside of me clearly. She said, ‘I am your Blessed Mother. I am speaking to you from within. Your earthly mother is not here with you right now so I have come to comfort you during your trials. However, your other mother (grandmother) is here with Me. Would you like to speak to her?’ At that moment I thought I was losing my mind … but yet … I felt peaceful and calm and very comforted and loved by this voice. So, I said, ‘Yes, I would.
“The next thing I knew, somehow, I was flying in spirit through the sky. By my left side was an Angel guiding me, and I felt it was my Guardian Angel – and it was nighttime. I saw in the distance a city. As we approached this city, it was like a warm and peaceful Sunday afternoon because there was a holiness about it. I saw white stone houses with fl at roofs and park bench seats outside. There were people sitting on the seats. As we got closer, I recognized some of the people. My grandmother was sitting on the right side and my (deceased) sister, Karen, opposite her. My grandmother looked younger, and there was a beautiful glow about her. I could see she was looking forward to my being with her.
“Then I found myself looking towards my sister. It was like looking through a camera as the focus moved from place to place. My sister looked about thirty years old now; she was twelve years old when she had died. Yet, her features were the same. She was beaming and so happy and smiling. She said, ‘I have someone very, very special here who is really looking forward to meeting you. Don’t worry, I am looking after her for you.’ At that moment my view shifted down to see that she was holding the hand of a little girl about nine years old. She had long hair tied back in a ponytail, and she wore a plain gray dress. I didn’t know who she was.
“Then my sister said, ‘This is Geraldine Margaret.’ At that moment I nearly fainted with shock. I felt the hair stand up on the back of my head, and I felt hot, then cold, as I realized it was the little baby I had miscarried nine years earlier, and it was a girl. I was going to call her Margaret Geraldine after my grandmother, but instead, they called her after me. Then this experience ended. As I came out of the room, my husband said, ‘What’s the matter?’ as he could see by the look on my face that something had happened.
“I cried continuously at the thought of having a daughter and not knowing her. Again, I was so upset – not knowing what to make of all this. Again, I heard this beautiful, soft, loving woman’s voice: ‘Do not be sad at what you have seen. Rejoice, rejoice, for your Father in Heaven has given you a wonderful gift.’ I stopped crying and was comforted, feeling a great peace.”