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Browsing Fr. Joel Hastings

Mass in heaven? Holy water use protocol.

Aug 28, 2017

Do saints go to Mass in heaven?

     This question is a good follow-up from the recent article on whether there are many religions in heaven. You may recall from that column that there is no need for religion in heaven, as all will be in perfect union with God and no longer need a way to be drawn into union with Him, as the goal of true religion will have been fulfilled. Such union with God rightly includes that we as human beings (with all other creatures) offer the most perfect worship of God as heirs of His Kingdom.

     So is this most perfect worship of God equal to the Mass? When you read such scriptures as the book of Revelation, it is noteworthy that many of the prayers and actions that are part of our earthly celebration of the Mass are among the elements of what John witnessed in the visions of heaven that he received. Among such visions were the singing of hymns praise to the Lamb of God, the bowing down in worship to the Lamb, and the burning of incense. In his book The Lamb’s Supper, Dr. Scott Hahn shows these and many other connections between the Mass on earth and the perfect life of worship in heaven (this book is in our parish library). Reading all that is shown in The Lamb’s Supper may leave one with the impression that “Yes, the saints do go to Mass in heaven.” And yet, we must be rightly open to the truth that heaven is beyond our ability at this time to comprehend in its fullness – and therefore we would do well not to in any way limit the possibilities of what heaven is by saying such things as “heaven is an eternal Mass.” What is for certain is that in the life of heaven, all the saints (as you and I are called to be) will worship God perfectly in perfect unity with Him and with all the angels and will live eternally in perfect communion.

If we must step out of the church during Mass and come back in, is it proper to cross ourselves with Holy Water coming and going each time?

     The use of Holy Water at the entrance of the church connects us to remembering our baptism, wherein we were first admitted to the fullness of the life of the Church.  That our practice of signing ourselves with Holy Water recalls baptism is primarily an act of piety and devotion – and not understood as an expected or required action in the same way as the act of genuflecting toward to the Eucharist (whether in the tabernacle or during Eucharistic Adoration) is to be done as a right gesture of reverence to our Lord Himself.

     Insofar as the use of Holy Water in making the Sign of the Cross upon entering the church (or on entering our home or a room within our home that is furnished with a font) is a reminder of our baptism, our regular use of such need not be so scrupulously guarded as though we only can do so upon first entrance and final departure. On the other extreme, neither ought we be so overly zealous as though we must do it each and every time we pass by the font. What is important is to remember that it is an act of piety – such that each time we carry it out our recognition of our baptism will be of primary significance.

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