November is traditionally a time in which we remember the dead. In Latin America many of the people set up little home altars on which they place photos and mementos of their loved ones who have died and gone ahead of them to that which we call the afterlife, heaven. We do not know what lies ahead but yet we are part of it, promised resurrection through our Baptism. As we careen towards the end of the liturgical year our readings turn toward “the last things”. This is not meant to cause us to be gloomy or sad; on the contrary, it is meant to offer us an opportunity to reflect on the transitory reality of this life in the context of the gift of the promise of eternal life. While none of us really know what it will be like, and the speculation has made for good reading over the centuries, some theologians today talk of it as something analogous to a glorious and knowable uniting, a joining with God in a new and spectacular way, beyond our wildest hopes and dreams! Heaven!
What do I think about heaven and the afterlife? Do I fear death or dying? If I built a little home altar, whose photos and mementos would I place on it? In the midst of all the chaos that we are living in, what are the things that I can find gratitude for in my life? And what are the things in which I can find openness to God and to what lies ahead in life and in death, believing that God journeys with me through it all?