St Joachim and St Anne

Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary (entered heaven in the first century)

Dear Jack,

One of the things that comforts me most in this prison of a cubicle is days like today, when we celebrate the memory of obscure saints.  Maybe it’s because I am in an obscure position and would nevertheless like to become a saint.  Maybe.  But I think there’s another reason that goes deeper.  I keep thinking about heaven, and how indescribable it will be to see God face to face, and to be surrounded by all the men, women, and children who populate the heavenly Kingdom.  Maybe I’m especially sensitive to this because of my current isolation, but I can’t help thinking that this festive atmosphere in which there will be unlimited time to get to know all the most wonderful people who ever lived (the famous and the not-so-famous) will be one of the bigger contributors to the joys of heaven.

Take today’s saints, for instance.  We know hardly anything about these two Galileans, but they must have been great people to hang out with if God gave them the noteworthy task of being Jesus’ grandparents.  Supposedly they married at a young age, suffered public mockery and reproach because they couldn’t have children, and obtained the blessing of fertility only after much prayer and fasting and the appearance of angel.  But they were normal folk just like the librarian and the janitor, normal folk who sought God and found him, and let God transform them into glorious, unique manifestations of his greatness.  They were earmarked to be the parents of another normal girl – with special privileges, of course, but just as human as you or me, probably moreso since she wasn’t scarred by any sin – who was destined to become Queen of Heaven and Earth.  She too we will be able to spend time with in heaven.  Imagine playing charades with all these folks after a scrumptious turkey dinner!

Maybe I am waxing a bit too fantastical.  I doubt it, though.  Scripture tells us that the reality will be more fantastic than our imagination can paint it (remember St Paul’s famous phrase – which he took from Isaiah – “eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man what God has prepared for those who love him” [1Cor 2:9)).  And in that case, I think I will go right ahead and continue to derive plenty of consolation in thinking about it. And I hope you do too.

Your loving uncle,


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