Ever heard someone refer to something as like "heaven on Earth"? People may say this about some awesome dessert or a beautiful view from atop a mountain after a long hike, or any number of things. So many amazing things can be described this way and I'm sure I've used that phrase myself once or twice. But lately I've had that experience at times when people would probably not normally think of it: during Mass or in front of the Eucharist in adoration.
Last night we attended a young adult event at a nearby Catholic Church. The event had a social time a wonderful talk by one of our wonderful priests, and some praise and worship music, but at the core of the evening was adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. I had a very moving experience during part of the evening, but to understand why it was so moving for me I have to give a little background.
After we lost our first baby, Casey in March 2008, going to Mass was really hard for me. I cried a lot and particularly during some of the Eucharistic prayers the priest would say. Eventually this subsided and I could sing again and get through mass without the tears. Then we lost the second baby, Zachary in January 2009. All those emotions came back again. I couldn't sing in Church and certian prayers would set me off. Sometimes things said in a homily would bring me to tears as well. In particular I found that when the priest used the Prayer before we sing the "Holy, holy, holy" that says something like, "and we join with the choirs of angels and all the saints as we sing ..." that would really move me (I think it's in the Eucharistic Prayer II, but I'm not sure). This prayer leads into the "Holy, holy, holy" and at times I could even feel my arms aching, like they would if you were holding a child. Eventually this got easier as well and I didn't cry at Mass nearly as much.
Part of the reason that really moved me was that I could envision tons of angels and tons of saints (including my two children) surrounding the altar at those moments, kneeling in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament on the altar. And our church has a big, huge open altar with lots of room around the Eucharistic Table. I would just get overwhelmed! We learn that heaven and earth come together during the Mass and particularly during the Eucharistic celebration we get a taste for heaven.
When I attended the Cursillo retreat in May, and in Cursillo meetings I've attended since, I have started focusing more on when I have "close moments" with God. In addition I recently finished reading the book The Lamb's Supper by Scott Hahn, and he talks a lot about the "Holy, holy, holy" and how the Mass is a reflection of the Book of Revelation which is a reflection of Heaven. All those things combined have really made the Mass very meaningful for me.
So last night at this Young Adult thing called The Summit we had Adoration in front of the Blessed Sacrament, the Real Presence of Christ. The first half of adoration was silent reflection but during the second half they played and we sang some praise music. The words of one of the songs had a lot of "holy, holy"'s in it and I really felt that "close moment" again. I also felt that presence again of tons of angels and saints also adoring Christ in the Eucharist. When I get that feeling I feel that my children are also there amongst the saints. It's an awesome feeling. So awesome, in fact, that it moves me to tears.
So last night, and more and more often during Mass, I have these close moments and at those moments I feel that Heaven and Earth are coming together. Particularly during the consecration of the host when it becomes the body and blood of Jesus Christ, because it is usually during those moments when I am reminded that the angels and saints in heaven are also adoring Christ at that very same moment. This is not something I feel at every mass nor at each time I attend adoration, and I know that it won't always be there.
But I love it when it is there and when that presence can be felt surrounding us. Feeling that presence is so awesome. For me, that is truly Heaven on Earth.