This past Sunday, we celebrated the feast of Christ the King, which one of my Maryknoll friends informs me has been renamed the “Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.” By whatever name the feast marks the end of the liturgical year, as we prepare to celebrate the First Sunday in Advent this coming weekend.
The end of the liturgical year – during which our readings have often focused on the end times – remind us that this world is not our final home – that, to use a phrase I borrow from my friend Joe, we are temporary visitors on this planet.
As we come to the end of one liturgical year and look toward a new beginning in Advent, we might reflect on what we are doing to prepare ourselves to be with our God, to prepare ourselves for our final home. In this regard, Archbishop Charles Chaput had this to say about this time of year:
But we’d do well to remember that while our time in this world is brief, our lives do have eternal consequences. Our choices and actions here matter. They fashion us into the kind of persons able to be happy with God forever, or unable to bear his presence. In Catholic thought, heaven and hell are not necessarily “places” any more than eternity is an endless amount of “time.” These concepts help us to imagine what lies outside our experience, but they’re human words with human meanings. All we really know about heaven and hell – and it’s more than enough – is that heaven will be our conscious, unending, joyful union with God and all others who love him; and that hell will be the terrible pain of rejecting God, forever, because we cannot bear his love.
This week is a good time to take stock of the choices we have been making and the actions we’ve taken (or not taken).