Feb. 5, 2016 Friday: St. Agatha
The Life Review
HOWARD STORM had been rescued from the horrors of the outer darkness, and now he found himself with Jesus, paused in space looking toward what he knew to be God’s City. Jesus called in a melodic tone, and seven lights shot across the vast distance from the City of Light to join them. Howard recognized them as angels or saints, more brilliant and beautiful than Howard could imagine, trumped only by Jesus himself.
"They asked me if I would like to see my life. Unsure of what to expect, I agreed. The record of my life was their record, not my memory of my life. We watched and experienced episodes that were from the point of view of a third party. The scenes they showed me were often of incidents I had forgotten. They showed their effects on people’s lives, of which I’d had no previous knowledge. They reported the thoughts and feelings of people I had interacted with, which I had been unaware of at the time. They showed me scenes from my life that I would not have chosen, and they eliminated scenes from my life that I wanted them to see. It was a complete surprise to see how my life history was being presented."
As Howard watched his early years relived in 3-D, he saw how his father’s anger slowly became his own anger, directing his life.
"Seven angels and myself held by Jesus were arranged in a circle while the scenes were projected in the midst of the circle. . . . I saw how I was being trained to repress emotions and was obedient so as to win the approval of my parents. I was also learning that my father completely dominated all of us by the threat of his anger. Although we were not allowed to show anger, I was learning what a powerful means of controlling people anger could be. . . . The angels showed me how my father’s compulsion to be successful was driving him toward increasing impatience and rage with his family. I saw how my mother, sisters, and I each developed different means of coping with his unpredictable mood swings. . . . I grew withdrawn and lived in a private world of anger and violence. . . .
The angels and Jesus shared their feelings of joy with me when love was expressed, and they shared their disappointment and sadness when we hurt one another. God had put my mother, father, sisters, and me together to love and support one another in our life’s journey to grow in love and spirit. We were adapting our desire to love in unhealthy ways. . . .
I didn’t understand—nor did my generation—that love and sexual relations are not the same thing. We viewed members of the opposite sex as objects to be exploited for sexual gratification. . . . This period of my life was shameful to watch in divine company because I had misdirected my desire to love and be loved. . . . The sexual revolution that I grew up in was opposed to love by promoting counterfeit sexual love as true love. This cultural wave of hedonism was bathed in alcohol and drugs, which are an even further departure from love and the will of God. . . . God brought my wife and me together to learn love. I saw it in my life review. God gives us each other to learn how to love. This is our job. . . .
In my life review, I had to turn away numerous times when I saw myself treating my children in unloving ways. The most unloving thing that I did was to be at times so obsessed with my concerns that I was indifferent to their needs. I am sorry for the occasions that I was impatient or cruel to my daughter and son. The most disturbing behaviors I witnessed in my life review were the times when I cared more about my career as an artist and college professor than about their need to be loved. The emotional abandonment of my children was devastating to review.
It was horrifying to see how I had become so much like my father. . . . I begged them to stop it because I was so ashamed of my failure to live lovingly and because of the grief I had caused God, Jesus, and the heavenly beings. The only reason I could bear to proceed with the life review was because of their love for me. No matter what we watched me do in life, they communicated their love for me, even as they expressed their disapproval of things I did. . . . To use vulgar words is only poor taste. To use the name of God in crude or empty ways is an insult to our Creator. I was horrified at how it hurt my heavenly company when we witnessed me blaspheming God and Christ Jesus. . . . As my adult life unfolded before us, my self-centered nature predominated, and this greatly displeased my divine company. I did very little that was not in my own self-interest. Other people’s needs were less important than my own desires. This is opposed to the will of God and is the opposite of love. . . .
The angels showed me that we do not earn our love of God by the things we do. God’s love is given without cost or strings attached. We live lovingly because God loves us so much. Thank God there is a way to change our lives and be forgiven our mistakes. . . . Only a person who loves God can accept that God would suffer and die for us so that we may be raised up to life with God. God defeated the power of death through God’s great love for us. Jesus is God’s redemptive act for a fallen world. . . . If a person is not ruled by the love of God, he or she is ruled by hatred of God. The greatest hatred of God is to be indifferent to God."
-John Burke, Imagine Heaven