If you are a regular churchgoer, by now you have noticed the readings are rather dark this time of year. By that, I mean Scripture is speaking to us about End Times. The church asks us to meditate on the Four Last Things: Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell. Luke is telling us to be vigilant. That is not a word we are used to hearing on a regular basis.
It reminded me of a book that was passed around in our circle of friends about 35 to 40 years ago. I think it was called “Purgatory”. A French priest wrote it and also wrote one on Hell. I got up to page 19 and could go no further. I just couldn’t handle it. It was so condemning! I didn’t know if I could actually get to heaven. The book is mostly private revelation which we are not bound to believe. But, it sure got to me. It seemed like a lot of people were going to purgatory for very minor offenses!
It took me a few years before I could pick it up again and finish the book. Those minor offenses changed with time into ones that I might have been venial sins, but now they bothered me. To enter the Pearly Gates, one must be free of sin. Now, most of us have friends from many different denominations and we find that there are many ideas of what being sin-free means. For some, a simple declaration of faith gives a person a one way ticket straight to heaven. For us Catholics, we believe that we have been saved through baptism, we are being saved now, and we will be saved when Jesus takes us to our eternal home. I am sure you can see the difference.
Remember what Paul said, “I work on my salvation with fear and trembling”. I believe Paul was using the word “work” as to work on not sinning. This ties in with us being vigilant. One way to do that is to guard our senses. All three of our daughters were missionaries for a while and in their faith formation were taught to “guard their senses”. Then they taught it to me. It was and is a great gift. Which of the senses causes you to sin? Eyes, ears, touch smells, etc.? Give it a name and it will be easier to overcome. And guess what? The Lord will help you! Be vigilant!
Have a Blessed Advent.
Serving With Joy!
Deacon Dan Schneider is a retired general manager of industrial distributors. He and his wife Vicki have been married for over 50 years. They are the parents of eight children and thirty grandchildren. He has a degree in Family Life Education from Spring Arbor University. He was ordained a Permanent Deacon in 2002. He has a passion for working with engaged and married couples and his main ministry has been preparing couples for marriage.
Featured Image Credit: Tim Volz, https://unsplash.com/photos/K2jUGU6ttO0