All Things New

Just watched The Passion of the Christ again.

Just teared up again at only one scene.

Just watched said scene twice.

Just teared up again.

Each time.

This:


Of all the truth in Sacred Scripture, only this line from Revelation 21:5 gets me every time. I’ve written and thought on it so much (like here, about strawberries in Heaven), and yet these words of the Lord at the end of time still do something.

It’s because I have sinned. The people I love dearly have sinned. We all have sinned and  our sin has made us hideous. The world is ugly because of us. And we cannot do a thing about it. The sun isn’t as sunny because of our sin. The breeze isn’t as fresh because of our sin. The peony isn’t as fragrant because of our sin. The strawberry isn’t as sweet, the birdsong isn’t as breathtaking, and we are not as glorious as God made us to be (not even close) — all because of my sin.

Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s words on sin have affected me deeply this past Triduum:

SheenSin

Because I now know the horror of my past sins. I don’t know them in their full terror yet: that I will know only when Jesus makes it known when He judges me before everyone. But I do know now how ugly my sin made me. And I need Jesus to make all things new: I need Him to make me new.

*Note: Though Jesus does not speak “See, Mother, I make all things new” in the Gospels (He speaks so in Revelation 21:5), Mel Gibson’s decision to have Him say this during His Passion is very worthy. He tells Mary, His Mother, not to worry, because He will make all this suffering and sorrow into a beautiful new creation. Jesus is only beginning to re-create and renew.

allthingsnew

Samurai Saint Michael

My friends! Allow me to introduce to you four of the mighty archangels in full samurai armored glory:

Mr. Daniel Mitsui's depiction of Revelation 12 in the Traditional Japanese style.

Mr. Daniel Mitsui’s depiction of Revelation 12 in the Traditional Japanese style.

If that piques your interest, then please visit the artist’s page and support him with encouragement, prayers, and then some if you are able! I admire Mr. Mitsui’s diligence to detail, his faithfulness to the Church, and his contribution of beauty into the world. So please, give his site some of your time and enjoy his galleries and his blog!

And don’t forget why Mr. Mitsui even inked this wonderful work of art! Pray to Saint Michael, ask him to guard us from evil, to free us to choose Jesus always.

StMichaelFullPrayer

Repeat after each and every Mass.

Strawberries in Heaven

My beloved friends,

Guess what happened this weekend in Cedar Bluffs, Nebraska?
About 150 campers got to peek at the beauty of Heaven. Let me tell you more of what we experienced…

Every summer across the U.S., Catholic Vietnamese Americans criss-cross the interstates. This year in the Midwest, friends in states from Michigan to Kansas, from Minnesota to Ohio, and even from Washington and Georgia, converged in the Cornhusker State for 55 hours of learning, praying, practicing and discovering friendship with one another and with Christ.

And there it was: a chance to catch a preview of Heaven.

I once heard some people say that they were afraid of Heaven, “It’s gonna be so boring! Who wants to pray all day, every day, for all eternity? The same thing — forever… what a drag!”

But that’s not Heaven. Instead, Heaven is where He makes all things NEW. ALL things (Rev. 21:5).

strawberry-wallpaper
I love strawberries. I didn’t always love them as much as I do now, but I daydream sometimes about strawberries in Heaven… …

-Me: “Oh look, a strawberry! Don’t mind if I help myself!”

-Jesus: “So you like that strawberry, eh? Well… try THIS ONE!” (pulls out another berry from behind His back)

-Me: “Whoa… this one’s even better!”

-Jesus: “Yes, now try THIS ONE!!” (pulls out yet another berry)

-Me: “Whoa! This one is better than the last two combined!”

-Jesus: “Think so? Try THIS ONE!!!” (and this could go on FOREVER)

Christ. What a curious God He is. Who makes something that is already perfect, into something better… better than perfect! Always new! How could that ever get lame?!

It’s like the love we experience in this life: love makes every moment new, a new experience. The restaurant of your first date becomes special, not repetitive. The movie you first watched together, laughed through together, sniffled through together… that movie becomes a highlight, and  every time you watch that movie or visit that restaurant with your beloved, it’s something new: you’re both a little older than the previous time, both in a different state of mind than before, in a different life-situation.

Now let’s go deeper.

There is one thing people never get bored of doing. NEVER.
Yes, I will get bored of strawberries.
Yes, you will get bored of _____________.
But think a moment before reading on. What do people never bore of doing? What is never boring?

The answer: meeting new friends and strengthening friendships. Sure — we’ll get tired of talking, dancing, dining, traveling, camping, playing games, etc. But after the tiredness goes away, we’re back at it again! We can get “tired” of making and strengthening friendships, but we’ll never be BORED of it to the point of thinking: “No more! I’m so bored of friends! Having friends is so boring!”

Don’t know about you, but I’d rather be exhausted and annoyed with my family/friends rather than be energetic and have no family/friends at all.

So that’s what I saw happen again this past weekend. So many of us stank for lack of showering. So many were exhausted for lack of sleep. So many were cold for lack of a summer. But we were with our friends.

In Heaven, you make friends. And you will never lose a friend. You will meet new persons forever, doing whatever activities that make friendships flourish. Every person is so rich in their specific personality — after all, nobody is identical to another on earth, why would they be redundant in Heaven where ALL THINGS ARE MADE NEW?

And I specifically said “persons” because humans aren’t the only persons in Creation. Angels are persons too! Imagine that… meeting and making friends with the angels. I’d like Saint Michael to give me some jousting and samurai lessons, for sure!

And then, the ultimate person to meet… Holy God Himself.

THAT is the Communion of Saints. THAT is Heaven.

But remember, what I saw happen was only an itty preview: like merely being able to smell fresh baked cookies. But, in Heaven we will finally get to eat the cookies 🙂

vision-of-the-empyrean

[Now if that’s Heaven… then how is Hell like? Where all things are never new. Where you lose friends and are left to solitary confinement. Where time does not pass because there’s nothing that’s going to happen next anyway.]