What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him.
1 Corinthians 2: 9
Heaven – the afterlife – is the goal of more than just Catholics. It is left up to the imagination, or personal interpretation, whether heaven consists of eating certain foods for eternity or meeting certain people for delightful conversations. However it plays out, it is where we will have the chance to meet, face-to-face, the Creator and Master of the Universe.
We need not, indeed, we should not, wait for death before pursuing God. Union with God begins here, whilst still in this realm. How?
Well, how do we build any relationship here? Would I have much of a marriage, if my husband and I never spent time with each other? How well would I know my children if we didn’t chat during meals or sitting around the living room? Even for those not in close proximity: would I ever be aware of how things were going with my mother or sisters, if we didn’t e-mail and text? Even that mixed-blessing of Facebook allows me to know the odds and ends about the lives of family and friends near and far.
How could we ever expect to know God, if we don’t spend time with Him? Prayer is the primary way we build our relationship with Him. Sure, we see Him in others and serve Him by serving others. But to actually cultivate a deep relationship with Him? That takes prayer.
St. Teresa of Avila wrote, "Prayer is nothing else than an intimate sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with Him who we know loves us."
Reflect for a moment on all the things parents do to offer their children a well-grounded life: a good education, a well-balanced diet, a healthy lifestyle in the form of dance, sports, biking, etc., and a religious foundation. Depending upon the avocations of individual families, the building blocks of a well-rounded life might also include exposure to the arts, exploration of nature, the fostering of personal interests in any variety of subjects.
All important things.
God is meant to be our primary relationship in life, so start our children young. I think many families do “start them young,” as far as building a Catholic culture, teaching children vocal prayer, guiding them toward proper behavior. I believe, though, that there’s more we can do. I believe that we can guide even the youngest children towards a life of contemplative prayer.