One Big Family

Christians can at times feel very much alone and isolated in their communities and even within their own families. At such times they need to realize how big their family of believers really is, a family with countless members, and one that cares deeply about every single member. The saints on earth make up the one big family with the angels and saints in heaven, and with the holy souls in purgatory. St. Paul reminds us of this great truth when he tells us, “you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God” (Eph.2:19).

One may ask: What do the saints do in heaven? The Catechism gives the answer: “They contemplate God, praise him and continually care for those they have left on earth” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2683). As God’s children, contemplating and praising God face to face is the destiny awaiting all of us in heaven. In the words of St. John, “Beloved, we are God’s children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).

St. Paul also gives us this assurance when writing to the Christian in Corinth, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood” (1 Cor 13:12). The reward of seeing “God face to face” should surely be the great hope for all of us to carry in our hearts, trusting in his infinite mercy and the help of the saints for final perseverance. The saints in heaven are not merely enjoying perfect happiness in God’s presence, but are also deeply involved in the lives of the family members still here on this earth. St. Therese expressed this care and concern when she promised: “I will spend my heaven in doing good on earth”. Mother Teresa expressed a similar sentiment, “I will continually be absent from heaven – to light the light of those in darkness on earth”. These saints are speaking for all the saints reminding us that we are the one big family.

We are one big family especially when we come together to celebrate the Eucharist. Every time we go to Mass we also go to heaven. Yes, this is true because we are united with Christ and the whole heavenly court in this great celebration. All together we give glory to God with the song the angels sang at the birth of Christ, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to people of goodwill” (Luke 2:14). We join “all the Hosts and Powers of heaven” in praising and glorifying God as we pray with one voice “Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of Hosts, Heaven and earth are full of your glory, Hosanna in the highest…”.

The Catechism tells us of the link between the Mass and the praise and thanksgiving which will occupy us in the heavenly Jerusalem, by reminding us that in “the earthly liturgy we share in a foretaste of that heavenly liturgy, which is celebrated in the Holy City of Jerusalem towards which we journey as pilgrims” (CCC 1090). The saints are our companions and friends on our pilgrimage to our heavenly home.