Friday, 26 June 2009

The Sight and Love of God in the Next Life will Constitute the Joy of the Blessed

Let us see what it will be which in heaven will make those holy citizens completely happy. The soul in heaven when it sees God face to face, and knows his infinite beauty, and all his perfections that render him worthy of infinite love, cannot but love him with all its powers, and it loves him far more than itself; it even, as it were, forgets itself, and desires nothing but to behold him satisfied and loved who is its God; and seeing that God, who is the only object of all its affections, enjoys an infinite delight, this joy of God constitutes all its paradise. If it were capable of anything that is infinite, in seeing that its Beloved is infinitely content, its own joy thereupon would be also infinite; but, as a creature is not capable of infinite joy, it rests at least satisfied with joy to such an extent that it desires nothing more; and this is that satisfaction that David sighed for, when he said, I shall be satisfied when Thy glory shall appear.1

Thus also is fulfilled what God says to the soul when he admits it into paradise, Enter into the joy of thy Lord.2 He does not bid joy enter into the soul, because this his joy, being infinite, cannot be contained in the creature; but he bids the soul enter into his joy, that it may receive a portion of it, and such a portion as will satisfy it, and fill it with delight.

Therefore, I am of opinion that in meditation, among all acts of love towards God, there is none more perfect than the taking delight in the infinite joy of God. This is certainly the continual exercise of the blessed in heaven; so that he who often rejoices in the joy of God begins in this life to do that which he hopes to do in heaven through all eternity.

The love with which the saints in paradise burn towards God is such that if ever a fear of losing it were to enter their thoughts, or they were to think that they should not love him with all their powers, as now they love him, this fear would cause them to experience the pains of hell. But it is not so; for they are as sure, as they are sure of God, that they will ever love him with all their powers, and that they will be ever loved by God, and this mutual love will never change throughout eternity. O my God! make me worthy of this, through the merits of Jesus Christ.

This happiness, which constitutes paradise, will be further increased by the splendor of that delightful city of God, the beauty of its inhabitants, and by their companionship, especially by that of the Queen of all, Mary, who will appear fairer than all, and by that of Jesus Christ, whose beauty again will infinitely surpass that of Mary.

The joy of the blessed will be increased by the dangers of losing so great a good, which they have all passed through in this life. What, then, will be the thanksgivings that they offer to God, when, through their own sins, they have deserved hell, and now find themselves there on high, whence they will see so many condemned to hell for less guilt than their own, while they are saved, and sure of not losing God, being destined to enjoy eternally those boundless delights in heaven, of which they will never grow weary. In this life, however great and continual be our joys, with time they always weary us; but for the delights of paradise, the more they are enjoyed, the more they are desired; and thus the blessed are ever satisfied and filled with these delights, and ever desire them: they ever desire them, and ever obtain them. Wherefore that sweet song with which the saints praise God and thank him for the happiness he has given them, is called a new song: Sing to the Lord a new song.3 It is called new, because the rejoicings of heaven seem ever new, as though they were experienced for the first time; and thus they ever rejoice in them, and ever ask for them; and, as they ever ask for them, they ever obtain them. Thus, as the damned are called “vessels of wrath,”4 the blessed are called “ vessels of divine love.”5

Justly, then, does St. Augustine6 say that to obtain this eternal blessedness there is needed a boundless labor. Hence, it was little that the anchorites did with their penitential works and prayers to gain Paradise; it was little for the saints to leave their riches and kingdoms to gain it; little that the martyrs suffered from instruments of torture, and burning irons, and cruel deaths.

Let us, at any rate, give heed to suffer joyfully the crosses that God sends us, because they all, if we are saved, will become for us eternal joys. When infirmities, pains, or any adversities afflict us, let us lift up our eyes to heaven and say, “One day all these pains will have an end, and after them I hope to enjoy God forever.” Let us take courage to suffer, and to despise the things of the world. Blessed is he who in death can say with St. Agatha, “O Lord, who hast taken from me the love of the world, receive my soul.”7 Let us endure everything, let us despise everything that is created; it is Jesus who awaits us, and stands with the crown in his hands to make us kings in heaven, if we be faithful to him.

But how can I, O my Jesus! aspire to so great a good,—I, who have so often, through the miserable desires of earth, renounced Paradise before Thee, and trodden under foot Thy grace? Yet Thy blood gives me courage to hope for Paradise, though I have so often deserved hell, because Thou hast died upon the cross, in order to bestow Paradise upon those who have not deserved it. O my God and Redeemer! I would no more lose Thee; give me help to be faithful to Thee; Thy kingdom come; through the merits of Thy blood grant me one day to enter Thy kingdom; and, in the meanwhile, until death comes, enable me perfectly to fulfil Thy will, which is the greatest good, and is that Paradise which can be possessed upon earth by him who loves Thee.

Therefore, O ye souls who love God! while we live in this vale of tears, let us ever sigh for Paradise, and say, “O fair country, wherein love bestows itself upon love, I sigh for Thee hour by hour, when, O my God, when will it be here?”

1“Satiabor, cum apparuerit gloria tua.” -- Ps. xvi. 15.

2“Intra in gaudium Domini tui.” -- Matt. xxv. 21.

3“Cantate Domino canticum novum.” -- Ps. xcvii. 1.

4Vasa iræ.

5Vasa charitatis.

6In Ps. xxx vi. s. 2.

7“Domine, qui abstulisti a me amorem sæculi, accipe animam meam.” -- In ejus off. lect. 6.

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