Looking Around: A Glimpse of Heaven on Earth

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The couple in cutoffs with the boy on an ipad…

The lone elderly woman staring adoringly at the altar…

The group of unkempt young adults kneeling with pleading faces…

The family with three girls in chapel veils, an enviable vision of tidy and tame…

The mom whose baby is wailing while she struggles to keep her toddler in the pew…

And me. Glancing around, grateful for my four incredible children and devoted husband, none of us perfect but all of us together in this moment.

We are the Church. And we are all in Mass on a Sunday for the primary purpose to worship the God of the Universe. Isn’t that incredible?

Lately, as I look around at the people in Mass on a Sunday morning, both at my own parish and to those we have recently traveled, I am awed at the beauty of all of these diverse men, women, and children coming together to praise the Lord. I look at their faces, and I see they love Jesus.

It is true that we are all motivated by different reasons for going to Mass. Perhaps we go out of fear or obedience or desire or worry. Regardless, driving to a church and sitting in a pew is a decision to step away from worldly things and set aside time for God. The world outside can be ugly and hostile and full of strife. But here in this church, we all belong to the Body of Christ, and there is harmony. It’s easy to take for granted.

Now I’m not denying that within our Church there are a multitude of divisions and struggles, but for an hour on Sunday, the majority of us set that aside and embrace the truth and beauty of the liturgy we choose to attend. We are there for God.

So the next time you are at Holy Mass, whether you are nursing a newborn while a toddler climbs all over you, giving “the look” to keep your boys from poking each other, worrying about your teen’s choice of church clothes, or many or all of the above, take a look around at the people in the other pews. Remember that they, too, are there to worship. They have their challenges and their blessings; their life experiences may be vastly different than yours.

But together, as we are all praying in unison before the altar of Christ, we are seeing a glimpse of Heaven. And I think maybe that if we can capture that image in our minds and carry it with us throughout the week, just as we carry the grace of the Sacrament of the Eucharist upon receiving His Most Precious Body and Blood, it just might make it easier to not lose track of our ultimate goal.

Regardless of what chaos erupts in our world or in our homes, being in the Eternal Presence of God Almighty at Mass each week is a taste of infinite peace.

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