“Prepare to meet your Maker,” one cowboy said to the other. It was good advice. No one knows exactly when or how they will “meet their maker,” so we should always be prepared. It could be by illness, old age, or a garbage truck, but it is certain each person will one day come before the Just Judge. The sixth beatitude proclaims, “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.” C.S. Lewis once said, “It is safe to tell the pure in heart that they shall see God, for only the pure in heart want to.” Would you be prepared at any moment to come before the Face of God? The Church aids us in this eventuality through the practices of Lent: fasting, penance, almsgiving, and taking advantage of the beautiful sacrament of mercy, Reconciliation.
C.S. Lewis once said, “It is safe to tell the pure in heart that they shall see God, for only the pure in heart want to.”
It is not a coincidence that Shrove Tuesday, the day that precedes Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent, is also the Feast of the Holy Face. Most people think of Mardi Gras (Shrove Tuesday) as a day of excess and indulgence in food and drink before facing the sacrifices of Lent. But the origin of the word “Shrove” is “to absolve.” Traditionally, Shrove Tuesday was a day to obtain absolution in the sacrament of Reconciliation, to purify your soul and prepare yourself to stand before the Face of God. The first step of that preparation is “to look in the mirror” and examine our conscience.
Jesus makes Himself our mirror – “He who never meditates is like a person who never looks in the mirror, therefore, not knowing that he is untidy, he goes out looking disorderly. The person who meditates and directs his thoughts to God, Who is the mirror of his soul, tries to know his faults, attempts to correct them, moderates his impulses, and puts his conscience in order.” — St. Padre Pio
The “pure in heart” are promised that they will see God face to face and be like him. “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor 13: 12-13) Purity of heart is the precondition of the vision of God.
The Book of Job provides ample reflections for the purification and test of faith that a soul may undergo to be fit to stand before God. Few people will have crosses as heavy as Job’s. But despite his crushing physical and spiritual struggles, as well as his complaints to God, Job’s words in the end demonstrate the kind of repentance and the purity of heart needed to come into God’s presence and see Him face to face:
“I have heard of You by word of mouth, but now my eyes have seen You. Therefore, disown what I have said and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:5-6)
A Blessed and Holy Lent to all
“Who shall climb the mountain of the LORD? Who shall stand in His holy place? The clean of hand and pure of heart, who are not devoted to idols, who have not sworn falsely. They will receive blessing from the LORD, and justice from their saving God. Such are the people that love the LORD, that seek the Face of the God of Jacob.” (Psalm 27: 3-6)