There Still Are People Fighting for Heaven: Jorge Ribera and Fr. Henry

We Christians, so used to life and routine, have forgotten what’s truly important.

Many of us are tired of always hearing the same thing. I would even say that, for some people, listening to others talk about Heaven has become a habit or routine. We no longer live what we were born for. We live without the desire or joy of bringing Christ to souls. Instead of giving and spreading to others the joy of belonging to the Lord and being chosen to proclaim Him to the world, we’re scared to death, embarrassed, bitter and self-conscious.

Who is embarrassed, angry and bitter over having found the greatest Treasure?

I think it’s fundamental to ask ourselves, “Why am I in this world? What does the Lord want me here for, in this country and place I am currently in?” The answer is what gives meaning to our life and moves us to truly live for God and others.

What are we on earth for if not for the definitive encounter with Christ, to reach Heaven and rejoice with Him and Our Blessed Mother forever?

That moment sounds impossible for us, doesn’t it? Especially when you start to see your own poverty, weakness, incapacity to fight, that you have no strength, that you walk alone, you don’t love the Lord enough, you’re incapable of living for Him, etc. Of course it’s impossible, but it’s impossible because we don’t place ourselves in the Lord’s hands and ask Him for help. We’re weak, and we wallow in our weakness.

Personally, it gives me hope to see how there are people who fight for Heaven. I would like to mention the lives of Jorge Ribera and Fr. Henry Kowalczyk.

Jorge Ribera is a 24-year-old from Valencia, Spain, who passed away on February 29, 2020, after 10 years of struggle against leukemia. He lived his illness in the Lord and offered up his sufferings.

He once wrote, “Without faith, you could see it as a personal improvement. If you have faith, you have the certainty that the pain transcends toward something or someone, so you can make the most of it and offer it for the people you love. This helps me to see that God really exists. I see incredible changes in friends and acquaintances that otherwise I doubt could have taken place.”

This young man recognized the greatness he was created for and did not think twice about living accordingly. Jorge desired Heaven and wanted everyone around him to discover this great gift and decide to live for God. His last words show his love for God and zeal for souls: “Be happy. Do not stray away from God and we’ll see each other in Heaven.”

Fr. Henry Kowalczyk, Servant Priest of the Home of the Mother, died on Abril 15, 2020, at 54 years of age after a blow to the head due to an epileptic seizure. He lived his life surrendered to the souls the Lord sent him. You can see this by what he did at the end of his life. A community of Carmelites had been left without a chaplain. Fr. Henry didn’t hesitate for a second to ask his superiors for permission to go and serve the Carmelites. There, he died after an epileptic seizure, far from his community, but performing a huge act of charity.                             

He had such zeal for souls that he couldn’t ever stop talking about God. His life was a constant struggle to reach Heaven, and he showed it in his daily life. His greatest joy was knowing that one day he would see the Lord and his Mom, the Virgin Mary. During his last days of life he said, “I am so happy that I could go to Heaven right now.”

I hope these examples of lives spent for God encourage us, in these times, to live for Heaven and to be Christ’s living witnesses in the world. Heaven is not something from the 17th century; it’s a reality of our times that implies nothing short of our salvation and eternal Life.

- By María Aguado, HM