His dad answered, "We're in church," and those of us around them exchanged smiles and chuckles.
I was struck wondering, what did that little child see that some of us missed? He looked around and, perhaps, the first thing he saw and felt were the hundreds of people around him making up the communion of saints called the Church Militant. In heaven there will be multitudes upon multitudes adoring God, with angels ministering to Him.
Little Bret heard people saying the same lines, same prayers, standing, kneeling, and bowing as one. He saw unity. The words issued forth from their mouths as coming from a harmony within their hearts.
He heard singing and glorious music, proclaiming “Glory to God in the highest and peace to His people on earth.” The music ascended to the heights of the church’s arched ceiling. It was beautiful.
Then he saw “one like a son of man” dressed in long robes with a voice of authority standing in the very front. Bret thought he looked like the one “in charge.” He saw what looked like angels in white robes and hoods ministering and waiting on the One in Charge. Certainly, this must be God and this place must be…heaven!
This little child had no knowledge of the greatest miracle he was about to witness take place on the altar. He had no idea that the God of the universe would take up residence here under the appearance of bread and wine in a sacramental way, and that we, the church, would eat at the table of the banquet of the Lamb, "who takes away the sins of the world." He didn't know that the priest was acting in the person of Christ even as a humble, servant of God himself, bringing us a taste and a foreshadowing of the heavenly banquet. But Bret heard, felt and saw something of God's presence, that this was like heaven.
Truly, children do have a special ability to see supernatural realities where we grown-ups sometimes fail. That is why Jesus preached that the kingdom of God belongs to such as these little children. Unless we become like little children, innocent and sincere, we will not see God nor the kingdom of heaven already here on earth. Purity is the means by which we can see God, His work and presence in our lives, His direction, and His beauty and know His joy. “Purity of heart is to will one thing,” said the philosopher Kierkegaard. Purity is our will perfectly in harmony with God’s will. It is total love. It is not divided. It is to be 100% concentrated.
When we go to Mass, do we feel divided between home and work and our spiritual life? Is there a rift that is preventing us from seeing God?
The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines purity in light of its relation between purity of heart (charity), purity of body (chastity), and purity of faith (“love of truth and orthodoxy of faith”) (2518). This purity then is an integration of flesh and spirit, body and soul, illuminating us to see more clearly the ways of God.
Every encounter with grace moves us in the right direction, closer to that purity of heart, purity of affections, purity of will and purity of intent with which we can see God.