It’s a recurring theme in my spiritual life: I don’t want to wait until I die to go to heaven. I want to start now. I’ve written about it in this space before (http://wp.me/p2v8xJ-ph) and I never tire of reading what the saints who have gone before us have said about this topic.
Once, when discussing this with a friend, he said to me, “Well, if this is heaven, I was kind of hoping for a little bit more!” That made me laugh because it’s true, we are all hoping that heaven is more than earth. But we’ve been given the great opportunity to get ready for heaven now so that, when we die, we won’t have to pass through so much purification. And, the surprising news is, as we prepare, we find that “Going to heaven is heaven all the way.”
That doesn’t mean that we have no more problems but it does mean that we become more aware that Jesus’ presence always preceeds our problems and that, as we yield to that lovely presence, his “Kingdom comes” and his “will is done on earth as it is in heaven.”
St. Augustine says, “Christ is now exalted above the heavens, but he still suffers on earth all the pain that we, the members of his body, have to bear. He showed this when he cried out from above: Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? and when he said: I was hungry and you gave me food.
“Why do we on earth not strive to find rest with him in heaven even now, through the faith, hope and love that unites us to him? While in heaven he is also with us; and we while on earth are with him. He is here with us by his divinity, his power and his love. We cannot be in heaven, as he is on earth, by divinity, but in him, we can be there by love…
“These words are explained by our oneness with Christ, for he is our head and we are his body. No one ascended into heaven except Christ because we also are Christ: he is the Son of Man by his union with us, and we by our union with him are the sons of God. So the Apostle says: Just as the human body, which has many members, is a unity, because all the different members make one body, so is it also with Christ. He too has many members, but one body.”
An ancient Carmelite book, The Institution of the First Monks, encourages us with this thought: ” (Our predecessors gave) the offering to God of a holy heart, purified of every actual stain of sin in a way that not only after death, but also in this life, they could to a certain extent taste in their hearts and experience in their minds the power of the Divine presence and the pleasantness of heavenly glory.”
So just ask God to give you a hunger to live in heaven now and he will show you the way to do it!