The Great Joy of Heaven

Transfiguration by Pietro Perugino

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).

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