Wednesday, November 14, 2012

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini on fighting for the prize

St. Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini Feast Day: November 13th

November is a month especially dedicated to deceased loved ones; especially those in purgatory. Purgatory, like earth itself, is a vestibule to heaven. Both purgatory and earth will pass, but heaven will last forever.

At every Mass Catholics pray to God, “Heaven and earth are full of your glory.” St. Frances Xavier Cabrini captured this inspiration when she was on route from Genoa, Italy, to New York in 1894. One day when the weather was pleasant and the ocean calm, she wrote how this scenic moment from the deck of the ship reminded her of heaven:

“There is a charming blue sky above and below us one can hardly distinguish the sea from the sky…the glorious splendor renders everything so bright and brilliant that the passengers exclaim, "How lovely, how beautiful!" We seem to see the portals of the heaven which do not close at the end of the day, because there day time never ends, for the day up there is eternal and the light which emanates from the Divine Face never fails.

There, in that abode, exist no night, no ignorance, no blindness, for everything is seen in God; there, no sorrows exist, no tears, no adversity, no sighs… Friends reach there at every moment, every instant; they do not disturb, but, rather, render the repose serene and sweet. Oh, sublime City, send down your beams of Light to these regions of darkness, this shadow of death where we still miserably live. Come, Oh Supernatural Light, to reveal to us the beauties of that Blessed Country, and detach us from the miseries of this earth; make our eyes so pure that, through the shining crystal of Faith, they may behold the eternal good which awaits us after a short time of sacrifice and self-conquering. He who fights will be victorious, and to the victor the prize is Heaven.”

With such words, this depiction of heaven seems worth fighting for or better yet, worth living for. But the difficulties of life, especially losing a loved one through death, reminds us that we are in the "regions of darkness."

In the Salve Regina we petition the Mother of God, “To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.” As we mourn loss of loved ones, and pray for their souls during the month of November, may the truth and reality of heaven be deeply impressed upon our souls.

In the absence of people we love and even in the absence of the things we grow attached to, we are left with a void only God can fill. For those who love Christ and long to see Him face to face, that void will be filled; most certainly in heaven. But it also must be borne in mind that heaven is a gift from God; a gift we can choose to accept or forfeit. For this reason, St. Francis Xavier Cabrini said, “He who fights will be victorious, and to the victor the prize is Heaven.”