By: Father Mark Pranaitis

When I was a boy, maybe 6 or 7, Sr. Angela taught me and my classmates that heaven was this great place where we would praise God all day long for eternity. My response? “Huh?  boring!” 

I was expecting ice cream and lots of it! 

Thankfully I grew up. Ice cream became pizza. And pizza became single malt scotch or a perfect gin martini with delicious appetizers, and no need to do sit ups. Heaven would be great! 

After the deaths of my parents and some other people I love very much, I began thinking about how we would be together again in heaven, a very consoling, attractive, thought.  

Add a few more years and a few more deaths and I envisioned us together at the heavenly banquet (where the chairs aren’t too close together and there is plenty of ice cream and pizza, and. . .). Yes, heaven was looking better and better. 

As a Vincentian priest, I am committed to following Jesus who sought out the rejected, the marginalized, the people living in poverty. Sometimes I describe poverty as “far from heaven.” Sometimes I am foot-stomping mad about how things so often work against the efforts of people in crushing poverty who are trying so hard. I see the injustices that keep them poor pile up on them, weigh them down.. I think about this a lot. I pray about it asking for understanding, for wisdom, for the ability to respond effectively. 

One day, when I was particularly vexed by one particular  situation. I stopped before walking into a meeting that I hoped would offer a solution and prayed, “Our Father. . .” 

That’s when I heard it:  “on earth as it is in heaven.” 

Take that image of heaven and make it happen here. . now. . for them! That’s it! Yes! 

How many times a day do we pray “. . .on earth as it is in heaven”? What would happen if we heard them as an invitation to do what Jesus did? And if we responded by taking the Father’s hand and being open to the Holy Spirit’s power? How much closer to heaven could earth become?  A little? Some? A lot? A gigantic amount? 

Let’s find out by diving into Lent. 

What is heaven like? We don’t know. But substandard housing, underemployed adults, and undereducated children surely isn’t it.

We invite you to join our Lenten efforts this season. Vincentians are sending funds to create sustainable housing for families with small children, safe and sanitary classrooms so that these children can gain an education and future, and job training for women who -shockingly- have been married since 18, some of them even as early as 12.

Will you help us this Lent? Let’s really dive into Lent. Let’s focus on heaven while our hands do what needs to be done on earth. Let’s Go!

We’ve made some changes on our website and you can now donate via any of the below methods by clicking this link.

Thank you much for reading my Lenten blog, and for your generous contributions to our attempts to imitate St. Vincent de Paul in everything we do.


Fr. M

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