Sherry Antonetti is a freelance writer, blogger and published author of The Book of Helen. She lives just outside of Washington, DC with her husband and their ten children.
It’s easier to imagine the sorrowful mysteries, or the joyful ones. Maybe, we’ve experienced something of the luminous in our lives, but to imagine the reality of Christ preparing a place for us in anticipation of our desiring eternal friendship with the Trinity and seeking it with our whole hearts, that’s hard to fathom.
We understand to the extent that we begin to fathom the Resurrection and the true nature of Christ through His passion and death. He died. He rose again. He is, He always was, and He remains fully who He is now and forever. As difficult as that reality beyond all our experience of reality is to comprehend, the idea that He seeks us individually as friends, friends He hopes will partake in His divine life forever, is even more mysterious. Why does God want us? Why does God who needs nothing, act like He needs us? Why is He so to speak, fixing our room and putting fresh candles at the table and making sure the best food is prepared for our coming to His house? Answer: He wants us to know that He awaits us with joy.
We put fresh flowers at the table, prepare a special meal and try to fix up the home for the visit of a beloved family member or friend. We want them welcomed. We want them to feel loved beyond measure. We want them to know in their bones: we celebrate you, we welcome you, we feast because you are here. Likewise, Christ prepares the fatted calf for each one of us every time we come to visit, and when we return fully to His home (as we hope to do after death and judgment), the wedding feast will go on forever.
The easiest way to understand how much Jesus wants us with Him in Heaven, is to imagine the table at our home at Christmas or a birthday, with an empty seat. We pine for the person we know should be there, the one we hope will return, the one we love and have never stopped loving, not even for an instant. It may be we’ve lost that person to death, or to sin (ours or theirs or both), or to addiction or distance, or to time. What matters is the one we love is lost to us. We can only hope, joyfully, for their return.
Meditating on the Ascension of our Lord into Heaven, where He goes to prepare a place for us, is a reminder that God intends to be always with us if we will God’s will. God cannot be deceived or tricked or bargained with in this offer; it is an offering we make in an instant and over time, which involves a surrender of our hearts to His. We are, in a sense, being asked on a daily basis, to give our own version of a fiat with our lives. Christ goes to prepare a place, offering us the promise of what God’s plan is for each of us, which can become the reality if we cooperate with God’s grace.
The mysteries of the Rosary serve to reveal, to each of us, how to become a more perfect disciple of Christ by increasing our exposure to the most perfect example, the most perfect disciple, Mary.
We don’t get the grace of an angel appearing telling us God’s plan. We get the gift of God breaking into our lives with opportunities to say “Yes,” to God by sacrifice, by prayer, by sublimation, by surrender. Adult faith life is learning to discipline one’s soul into a lifetime of love, manifested in sacrifice, prayer, sublimation and surrender. It is why the Sacrament of Confirmation brings about so many fuller gifts of the Holy Spirit, so we can take on this lifetime of mission.