by Ken Rolheiser
Where we meet heaven  

It was a beautiful, sunny, Saturday morning in January. The temperature was minus five Celsius, and the hoar frost was glistening in the still trees. My friend met me after attending a funeral and remarked how still and calm and beautiful the scene at the graveyard had been. After reflecting, I responded, “It is even nicer on the other side.”

There is a story told about ancient monks who searched the earth looking for the door to heaven. Finally, they stood at the threshold of the place where earth meets heaven. When they opened the door, they were back at their monastery, where they lived their daily lives.

I had an experience of the place where earth meets heaven when I visited my sister, an Ursuline nun who was dying of cancer. I had come to Saskatoon to say a final farewell. She was in and out of consciousness, but suddenly grew alert. “You are here? I’m so sorry!” I wondered that she was aware of my long trip to see her. “I’m sorry,” she repeated.

“It’s all right,” I assured her. “It’s all right.” Later in a lucid moment she confided to one of the other sisters that she had seen Jesus. She could be happy and peaceful because Jesus had told her it was all right. That day I was at the place where we meet heaven.

We do not need to fear that meeting. The angels are with us. They have been “sent to serve, for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation” (Hebrews 1:14). Similarly, Saint Basil the Great teaches that no one can deny that “beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 336).

Another example of the place where we meet heaven reflects our readiness and eagerness to finally meet God. When my mother-in-law was dying, several days before her passing, she was ready. She expected Jesus was coming for her that night. She had spent a life of service devoted to her family, her parish, a rich prayer life, and daily Mass when possible and was anxious to meet Jesus.

But it was not yet time. She came back to us, but still eager to meet the Lord. Several days later she slipped quietly away, and we rejoiced: “I was full of joy, alleluia, when I set out for the house of the Lord.” This was the song she had loved. 

Our guardian angel, together with Saint Michael the Archangel who battled Satan, is with us to defend us against the devil. “In the hours when you seem to be alone and abandoned, do not complain of not having a friendly soul to whom you can unburden yourself and in whom you can confide your sorrows. For pity’s sake, do not forget this invisible companion, always present to listen to you; always ready to console you” (St. Padre Pio). 

Saint Aloysius Gonzaga taught that our souls are conducted to the Judgment Seat of Almighty God at the moment of our death by our guardian angels. Our guardian angel will present to Our Lord our merits earned in life, he said. And should we be for a time in Purgatory, our guardian angel will visit us, bringing us both comfort and consolation, and the prayers that have been offered for us. 

Every moment of our lives our guardian angels stand at our side to protect us and to guide us to the place where we meet heaven.

(590 words)