We had a death in the family last year and when I called with condolences and said that I would continue to pray for the deceased soul, her daughter exclaimed, “Oh, don’t worry. I know for a fact that my mother is in Heaven. She was a good person.” And, I know that the deceased was a good person and I also know that she has her share of quirks, jealousies, and just, plain angry days. Of course, I pray that she reached the highest of eternities in short time but to rely on someone saying it is so versus the reality of additional prayer being needed was a little scary.
Heaven is attainable and within every person’s reach . . . but they have to strongly and faithfully reach for it every day of their lives and live their earthly life in such a way to find welcome in the hereafter.
Saint Vincent Ferrer relates a story about an archdeacon who gave up his title and went into the desert to pay and do penance. It happened that he died the same day and hour as Saint Bernard. After the archdeacon’s death, he appeared to his bishop and said to him, “Know, Monsignor, that at the very hour I passed away, thirty-three thousand people also died. Out of this number, Bernard and myself went up to heaven without delay, three went to Purgatory, and all the others fell into Hell.”
Biblical references to eternal salvation give adequate note that the Gates of Heaven are only breached by the souls who sought the Will of God.
Only two Hebrews out of two million entered the Promised Land after leaving Egypt.
Only four escaped the fire of Sodom and Gomorrah.
And how many people were saved on the Ark?
“Many attain to faith, but few to the heavenly kingdom.” Saint Gregory
“There are few who are saved.” Saint Anselm
“Out of one hundred thousand people whose lives have always been bad, you will find barely one who is worthy of indulgence.” Saint Jerome
Always reminds me of the story about the rich man who couldn’t be bothered to help the beggar that only asked for the scraps from his table. When the rich man found himself in the fires of Hell, he asked God to send help to his brothers that they would not fall into the pit and be saved. God told him that they already had prophets and holy men to teach them if they would but listen.
“While the Savior does not reject the willing, He does not constrain the unwilling: while He does not deny Himself to those who seek Him, He does not strive with those who cast Him out.”
St. Ambrose 4th century