"My little children, reflect on these words: the Christian's treasure is not on earth but in heaven. Our thoughts, then, ought to be directed to where our treasure is. This is the glorious duty of man: to pray and to love. If you pray and love, that is where a man's happiness lies."
St. Jean Vianney
Heaven. What a heavenly thought! The destination where every soul wishes to go, yet few actually make the effort of arriving at this blessed abode. For most people, heaven is like a far off dream that is unattainable, therefore, they think, why even bother. Heaven is more real than the most logical explanation and more sure than the noonday sun. It is truly shocking that there are so many people who do not believe in an afterlife and willingly choose to think that there is no God. On the day of their death, they will see what they should've thought about their whole lifelong.
The soul was made for heaven and to enjoy friendship with God, forever. However, God does not force Himself upon anyone. God has given the human person the gift of free-will. By the way we live our lives, we ourselves choose where we will go once our life on this earth has ended. Whether we go to heaven, purgatory or hell, it is our choice. Our goal, of course, should be heaven and to aspire for the great heights of sanctity and God will bless our efforts. By living in fear of God, obeying His commands, loving one another out of love and reverence for God, we can hope to attain heaven. Purgatory is from the great mercy of God, where souls who've not run the race as well as they could have, are granted this divine clemency to be purged and sanctified in the flames of purgatory, until their souls are fully purified and ready for the glory of heaven. Sadly and most devastatingly, hell is where souls who've chosen to reject God and all that His mercy offers, have chosen to be separated from the Fount of all goodness for eternity by refusing to repent of one's sins.
"I call heaven and earth today to witness against you: I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, by loving the LORD, your God, obeying His voice, and holding fast to Him. For that will mean life for you, a long life for you to live on the land which the LORD swore to your ancestors, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give to them."
God will not cease to offer life to His creatures. For truly, God does not take "pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live."* God wills and desires the salvation of all souls, but He has indeed given free-will to man and He will not impose or force His ways upon anyone. For, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, [then] I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with Me."* God is truly a Gentleman, a Divine Gentleman. He offers salvation to the human race, but it is truly our choice and decision whether we'll repent of our sins and open the door of our hearts to the One Who loves us with an infinite and everlasting love. His love gives life, and He asks us to be brave and follow to follow in His Footprints. He asks us to pick up our cross daily, the cross that He has lovingly prefigured before our birth, and to follow after Him. This cross will lead us to the eternal shores.
“You must accept your cross; if you bear it courageously it will carry you to heaven.”
St. Jean Vianney
As to the sufferings, toil and labor of carrying one's cross in this life, the yoke we bear is truly easy and the burden is light. Carrying one's cross after Christ gives life to the soul and the reward in doing so far surpasses our desires and unites us to God. However, carrying the burden of the ways of the world not only destroys the soul, but leaves it bruised and broken down and separates the soul from God.
"Looking to Jesus, the Pioneer and Perfecter of our faith, Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God."
As a saint one time had said that if you want anything apart from Christ, you do not know what you want. For in truth, Heaven should be the goal of every soul. To aspire after anything else is pure vanity, dissipation and death. Most importantly, every soul should aspire after Heaven not only because of the unspeakable joys and beauties, but because Christ is there. May we pick up our crosses after Jesus, Who first showed us the pathway to Heaven. Let us follow after Him with our whole hearts, Who truly is the Way, and the Truth and the Life. May we prepare ourselves for His coming and know that He has prepared a place for us in Our Father's Home.
"Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after Me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.
What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?"
St. Jean Vianney, pray for us.