Before my assignment at Relevant Radio, I did youth ministry – broadly speaking – for thirty-three years. Among other things, I served as Chaplain of Embers Elementary School in the Chicago area and one day, speaking to second graders about just how wonderful heaven will be – the joy, the wonder, Jesus, Mary and Joseph, and all the Saints and Angels – I could see their eyes light up and their faces all aglow. So I asked them, “How many of you would like to go to heaven?” All their hands shot up immediately, including one little boy, almost falling out of his desk and stamping his feet in wild expectation of heaven with not just one hand in the air, but both of them. Then I asked, and “How many of you want to go today?” After a few seconds, and realizing what I had just asked, all the hands went down, but everyone was still smiling, because they got the joke. We all want to go to heaven, but maybe not today.
Yes, we all want to go to heaven, but no one who has ever been there has come back to tell us about it, except our Blessed Mother. So what will heaven really be like? (1 Cor 2:9) As St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” Just as Dante posits there are nine circles of hell, Jesus teaches us that there are various levels in heaven, according to the degree of our love for God. Jesus said, “In my Father’s house there are many mansions.” I know that the Seraphim and Cherubim are the highest angels in heaven, but among human beings, I like to think of the young martyrs such as St. Maria Goretti and St. Jose Sanchez del Rio, as well as St. Francisco and St. Jacinta from Fatima, as among the highest in heaven. I also fondly regard the many martyrs: The Carmelite nuns from the French Revolution; the sixty-five Claretian novices from the Spanish Civil War; and many others. But perhaps the highest people in heaven are our good mothers and fathers who sacrificed daily, did and disappeared, and will never be canonized, but are celebrated all the same by the Christian community on November 1, the Feast of All Saints?
I also like to think of the many people who have listened to, prayed for, and supported Relevant Radio over the years, who are truly holy people. And maybe by the end of this Novena for the Holy Souls in Purgatory, there will be another three hundred thousand saints in heaven cheering on Relevant Radio from above? I sure hope so!