The Great Joy of Heaven

Father Cassilly writes: “The great, essential joy of heaven will be the Vision wherein we shall see God face to face, shall know even as we are known, and love as we are loved.”

“Even in this world the greatest pleasure comes from the exercise of our faculties of knowing and loving. . . . To love and strive for the object of desire is a natural beatitude. But God is infinite perfection, and the knowledge we shall have of Him is direct, face to face, the most intimate possible to creature; and love in heaven is not merely that of desire, but of fruition, derived from the possession of Him. We love and are loved, we possess and are possessed, we enjoy and are enjoyed, we are united to God. . . . Our faculties, after the trying vicissitudes of life are now at rest. The rest, however, is not of inaction, but of perfectly poised and balanced activity, it is the slumber of the revolving flywheel not of the discarded and rusting tool, it is a repose from labor not from action.”

“The joy and happiness of the soul in heaven will be increased by reunion with the glorified body of whose nature and characteristics St. Paul (1 Cor 15:35 ff) gives us some idea. He compares it to the plant that springs from the seed. And, as the plant is but a germination and development of the seed, so the risen body is not a different body from the one we have on earth, but the same, glorified and spiritualized. The qualities of the plant depend on the nature of the seed that is sown; so, too, will the new qualities of the body in heaven depend on the good works done in the flesh.”

“The Apostle tells us the body ‘is sown in corruption, it shall rise in incorruption.’ It is sown or planted in the grave when corrupted in death; and all through life the body tends in a way toward corruption. There is a constant disintegration going on in it, a steady sapping of its vitality, which require a perennial renewal of strength and force. It is ever subject to hunger and thirst and sickness. But in heaven it will have the gifts of impassibility and immortality. No more will death like a gaunt spectre threaten it with extinction; no more shall there be hunger, thirst, or suffering from heat and cold. The exhausting struggle of life will be done, the conflict with penury and want, with sickness and labor will be over, as well as the tense watch and guard against our enemies. They will have disappeared and with them fear and the sound of alarums. Peace and tranquillity will be our portion, and existence will be one long holiday without care or anxiety. We shall be forever happy children of a loving and all-powerful Father.”

Quotations from Francis Cassilly, A Story of Love, 2d ed. (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1917).

Posted in Advent, Bible, Catholic, Christianity, Faith, Inspiration, Prayer | Tagged , , ,

Untold Riches and Delights

Father Cassilly draws our attention to the multifarious grandeur and beauty of God’s creation. He writes: “Look this rich summer morning at yonder prospect of hill and dale, orchard, field and meadow, and count if you can the varied tints of green from light yellowish to deep blue or blackish. You will easily number a hundred shades, each herb and plant and tree, singly and in mass, having its own peculiar tint, which, too, constantly changes at each hour of the day, according to the intensity of the light, the position of the clouds and the angle of view. . . . Witness the illimitable expanse of ocean and its unfathomable depths, the unexplored reach of space, sown with suns unnumbered, the almost infinite variety and fecundity of plant and animal life. Who will count the light vibrations of a single candle, or the avalanche of seeds that fall from a maple tree, not one of which perhaps is destined to germinate?”

“And if the hand of Providence is so profuse, almost wasteful, in its gifts to us in exile, what will be its munificence in the place of reward? If the seed-time be so abounding, what will the harvest be? In this life God must put a constant check and restraint on His liberality, lest He overwhelm us with His beneficence, and make this orb so entrancing that we may forget the Giver in the splendor of His gifts. This world, all in all, is but a presage of the next, and so the Divine munificence displayed in it is at most but an earnest of what we may expect.”

“The untold riches and delights that He has packed away for us into every moment of the endless age to come, are far and away beyond all we can surmise or anticipate. If the antechamber in which we are, says one of the Fathers, is so magnificent, what will the royal throne room be; if the floor of heaven so glistens with its patens of light, what must the superstructure be?”

Quotations from Francis Cassilly, A Story of Love, 2d ed. (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1917).

Posted in Advent, Bible, Catholic, Christianity, Faith, Inspiration, Prayer | Tagged , ,

What God Has Prepared For Us

Father Cassilly asks: “What kind of existence has our Friend, Father and Lover reserved for us beyond the pearly gates in the city whose streets are of transparent gold, where there shall be no night nor darkness, nor weeping nor mourning, but joy and happiness forevermore? What kind of a mansion is Christ preparing for us in the home of His Father?”

“When we come to consider the magnificent reward that God has prepared for those who love Him, imagination fails, for no matter how great our anticipations may be they will always fall short of the reality. In our present life seldom do anticipated joys respond fully to expectation. Some unforeseen obstacle prevents our full enjoyment; and even should we attain the object of our heart’s desire we soon tire of it, so that what beforehand we deemed worthy of attainment, seems in the event hardly worth the effort it cost. The opposite, however, is true in regard to the joys of the afterlife. Paint we them in colors never so glorious, the pictured prospect will be more than realized, since eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive what God has prepared for those who love him.”

“One of the Divine attributes displayed in creation is munificence or liberality. God is prodigal of His gifts. Economy in man is a virtue, but God knows it not. He is a spendthrift in generosity, for His treasures never diminish. He lavishes them on us beyond all our needs. We require a little air to breathe, and God has made an ocean of it sixty or more miles in height, a huge reservoir we can never exhaust. We require perhaps a dozen articles of diet, and the Creator serves us with thousands and thousands of dishes, varying with soil and climate and season. Our table supplies come from the depth of ocean, from the realm of air, they grow in field and forest, they hang from trees and multiply underground. St. Ignatius had so lively an appreciation of the Divine bounty in this respect that, in returning thanks after meals, his face at times glowed with feelings of gratitude.”

Quotations from Francis Cassilly, A Story of Love, 2d ed. (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1917).

Posted in Advent, Bible, Catholic, Christianity, Faith, Inspiration, Prayer | Tagged , ,

I Languish With Love

“I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if you find my beloved, that you tell him I languish with love” (Cant 5:8).

The Jesuit Father Francis Cassilly comments: “This life is an exile from home, prolonged through the dragging years. . . . And yet, tedious as is our wayfaring here below it is not wholly wretched. How could it be, when we swim in an ocean of love as the fish in the sea, when God is our Friend and Lover, Father and Mother, when He inhabits us, and Christ is ready to enter our tabernacle of clay each morning to nourish us with His own flesh and blood?”

“But from this very fact arises a new source of heartweariness, to know that we are so near to God and yet so far away, that He is in and all about us, and yet, for our veils of flesh, we cannot see and possess Him. The more ardent our love, the more poignant the anguish of our separation from its object. . . . Never to have known our beloved were indeed a misfortune, but to know Him and be separated from Him is a rending of the heart.”

“Could any fate be more dolorous than to live forever in this world? Would not the thought of going on in the same round of duties, of rising, working, eating and sleeping, in an unending cycle, become a hideous nightmare? We dread to die, but to lead without end this present dying life of ours, would be a prospect calculated to drive us to distraction. St. John of the Cross, mystic and poet, thus laments: ‘This life that I am living is a lifeless life, and so, a death continuing until I come to live with Thee. O God, hear Thou my cry! This life of mine I will it not; I am dying because I am not dead.'”

“But, one cheering thought sustains us, that the hour of freedom will strike for us at last, that no matter how dismal and soul-trying our tasks and labor the Master Workman will one day give the signal for quitting work and going home to rest.”

Quotations from Francis Cassilly, A Story of Love, 2d ed. (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1917).

Posted in Advent, Bible, Catholic, Christianity, Faith, Inspiration, Prayer | Tagged , , ,

Meriting Happiness

Father Pegues concludes his discussion of human happiness by explaining how one attains ultimate happiness: “Man can come to possess God, his Supreme Good, and to enjoy Him, by an act of his intellect which is moved to this by his will.” The act whereby God is reached by the intellect as He is in Himself is called the “vision of God.” It is in this vision that the perfect happiness of man consists. “On earth and in this life it is impossible for man to come to possess the vision of God which is his perfect happiness, for the conditions of this life and the miseries thereof are incompatible with such fullness of happiness.”

“Man can only attain to the vision of God which constitutes his perfect happiness by the help of God from whom he receives it. God will not confer this boon upon man unless by merit he make himself worthy to receive it.” By performing virtuous acts, a person can merit during his earthly life to receive from God the beatific vision, which is his eternal happiness. Virtuous acts are “acts which man performs by his own free will in conformity with God’s will under the action of grace.”

St. Thomas Aquinas in his Treatise On Human Acts (Summa Theologica I-II, 6-21) elaborates upon the conditions that make human acts meritorious. One must perform them “spontaneously and with the knowledge that he is their cause.” They must be performed “without constraint or force.” And one must take into account the circumstances that accompany a human act. These are circumstances of person, object, effect produced, place, motive, means employed, and time. The most important of these is the motive for which a person acts.

Human acts are always produced by the will: either by the will alone, or by some human faculty or external bodily member acting under impulse of the will. “The will of man is the central point of all those acts that constitute his life as a rational being, and have direct bearing upon the reward of his life which is the gain or the loss of the happiness of heaven.”

The goodness of the object, the end, and the circumstances of an act “is derived from the relation that all these things have with right reason.” Right reason is “the reason enlightened by all the lights that come from God, or which at least is not knowingly at variance with them.” When a person “wills or chooses something in conformity with right reason for an object or an end of which right reason approves, and of which all the accompanying circumstances accord with right reason,” then it is considered a good act.

Quotations from Thomas Pegues, Catechism of the “Summa Theologica” of Saint Thomas Aquinas, trans. Aelred Whitacre (New York: Benziger, 1922).

Posted in Advent, Bible, Catholic, Christianity, Faith, Inspiration, Prayer | Tagged , , , ,

The Object of Human Happiness

Father Pegues discusses the ultimate object of human happiness, man’s greatest good and final end, as presented by St. Thomas Aquinas in his Treatise on the Last End (Summa Theologica I-II, 1-5).

Father Pegues writes: “Man under the higher action of God and dependently upon this action, can fix for himself the end for which he acts; whereas other creatures of the material world put into execution blindly, naturally, or instinctively the end fixed to their action by God.” The reason for this difference between man and other creatures is because “man is endowed with mind, whereas other creatures are not.”

“There is always some supreme object or some last end man has in view whenever he acts; since without some such supreme object or last end he would be unable to will anything at all. Man ordains all to this supreme object or last end whenever he acts; if he does not do this consciously and explicitly, he does it at least implicitly. This last end or supreme object which man always has in view when he acts and to which he ordains all is happiness. Of necessity man desires to be happy.”

“Since he can seek his welfare among so many and divers good things, he can deceive himself as to the object of his true happiness. If man deceives himself as to the object of his true happiness, it follows that instead of finding happiness at the end of his life, he finds nought but the worst evil.”

“The object of the happiness of man is a good higher than himself and in which he can find his perfection.” The object is not riches, for “these are beneath man; nor are they sufficient to guarantee his entire welfare and his perfection.” Nor is it honors, for “honours do not bring perfection, but rather presuppose it.” Nor is it renown, for “these are of no worth unless they be merited; moreover among men these things are often foolish and ill-judged.” Nor is it power, because “power is for the good of others, and is subject to their whims and disobedience.” Nor is it health or beauty, because “these good things are too unstable; furthermore they belong only to the external perfection of man and not to his internal perfection or that of his soul.” Nor does the object of happiness consist in bodily pleasures, for “these are of small account in comparison with the higher pleasures of the mind which are proper to the soul.” Rather, the happiness of man consists in “some good of soul”; and this good is “God, the Supreme Good, Sovereign and Infinite.”

Quotations from Thomas Pegues, Catechism of the “Summa Theologica” of Saint Thomas Aquinas, trans. Aelred Whitacre (New York: Benziger, 1922).

Posted in Advent, Bible, Catholic, Christianity, Faith, Inspiration, Prayer | Tagged , ,

Of Human Mind and Will

Father Pegues concludes his discussion of the human powers by elaborating upon the intellective faculties of reason and will.

The chief power of knowing in man is his reason, his intellect. Reasoning is an act proper to man because, of all the animals, “man alone is able to reason, or has need of reasoning.” It is a perfection in man to be able to reason. But, it is an imperfection to have need of reasoning, because “he attains to truth by slow degrees only, and he is thereby liable to err.” To know things as they are is to know truth; to not know things as they are is to be either in ignorance or in error. “To be in ignorance is merely not to know things as they are; whereas to be in error is to affirm that a thing is, when it is not, or conversely.” To be in error is an evil, because “man’s proper good consists in knowledge of the truth which is the good of his intellect.”

“Man cannot know God in Himself by the natural force of his reason, for God is infinite above all things I sense. . . . Left then to his natural powers man can know God only imperfectly by his reason.” Nevertheless, “it is a great perfection for man to know God by his reason however imperfect the knowledge be; because thereby man is lifted up in an eminent degree above the rest of creatures that are devoid of reason; it is moreover owing to the possibility of this knowledge that God has raised man to the sovereign dignity of being child of His grace; in this happy state man’s reason knows God as He is in Himself, at first imperfectly by the light of faith, but at length perfectly by the light of glory.”

The soul knows by means of the faculty of reason, and it loves by means of the faculty called the will. The proper object of the intellect is the truth, and the proper object of the will is the good. “His will is not drawn of itself or of necessity to a good except under the general aspect of good; hence provided the good presented to the will is only some particular good the will is master of its own act in so far as it is able to choose or not to choose that particular good. Man’s free will results from a combination of his will with his reason or intellect.”

Quotations from Thomas Pegues, Catechism of the “Summa Theologica” of Saint Thomas Aquinas, trans. Aelred Whitacre (New York: Benziger, 1922).

Posted in Advent, Bible, Catholic, Christianity, Faith, Inspiration, Prayer | Tagged , , ,