John Paul II: Heaven is Communion of Life and Love with the Trinity (1) Monday, Nov 25 2013 

jp2When the form of this world has passed away, those who have welcomed God into their lives and have sincerely opened themselves to his love, at least at the moment of death, will enjoy that fullness of communion with God which is the goal of human life.

As the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, “this perfect life with the Most Holy Trinity — this communion of life and love with the Trinity, with the Virgin Mary, the angels and all the blessed — is called ‘heaven’”.

[…] In biblical language “heaven”, when it is joined to the “earth”, indicates part of the universe. Scripture says about creation: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gn 1:1).

Metaphorically speaking, heaven is understood as the dwelling-place of God, who is thus distinguished from human beings (cf. Ps 104:2f.; 115:16; Is 66:1). He sees and judges from the heights of heaven (cf. Ps 113:4-9) and comes down when he is called upon (cf. Ps 18:9, 10; 144:5).

However the biblical metaphor makes it clear that God does not identify himself with heaven, nor can he be contained in it (cf. 1 Kgs 8:27); and this is true, even though in some passages of the First Book of the Maccabees “Heaven” is simply one of God’s names (1 Mc 3:18, 19, 50, 60; 4:24, 55).

The depiction of heaven as the transcendent dwelling-place of the living God is joined with that of the place to which believers, through grace, can also ascend, as we see in the Old Testament accounts of Enoch (cf. Gn 5:24) and Elijah (cf. 2 Kgs 2:11).

Thus heaven becomes an image of life in God. In this sense Jesus speaks of a “reward in heaven” (Mt 5:12) and urges people to “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (ibid., 6:20; cf. 19:21). The New Testament amplifies the idea of heaven in relation to the mystery of Christ.

To show that the Redeemer’s sacrifice acquires perfect and definitive value, the Letter to the Hebrews says that Jesus “passed through the heavens” (Heb 4:14), and “entered, not into a sanctuary made with hands, a copy of the true one, but into heaven itself” (ibid., 9:24). Since believers are loved in a special way by the Father, they are raised with Christ and made citizens of heaven.

[…] “God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph 2:4-7).

John Paul II (1920-2005): Wednesday General Audience, 21st July 1999.

Cyril of Alexandria: “I Am in My Father, and You in Me, and I in You” Wednesday, May 1 2013 

cyril_alexandriaIn that day ye shall know that I am in My Father, and ye in Me, and I in you (John 14:20).

After the creature [man]…had attained unto the propriety of its perfect nature by means of both soul and body…, then like a stamp of His own Nature the Creator impressed on it the Holy Spirit – the Breath of Life.

Thus the creature became moulded unto the archetypal Beauty, and completed after the image of Him that created it, enabled unto every form of excellence, by virtue of the Spirit given to dwell in it.

Having free will, and entrusted with the reins of its own purposes – for this also is an element in the image, forasmuch as God has power over His own purposes – the creature turned and has fallen.

God the Father both determined and took in hand to gather together once more in Christ the nature of man unto its ancient estate, and, willing it, He accomplished it.

[…] It was not otherwise possible for man, forasmuch as he was of a nature that was perishing, to escape death, save by recovering that ancient grace, and partaking once more in God.

For God holds all things together in being and preserves them in life through the Son in the Spirit.

Therefore He has become partaker of blood and flesh. He has become man, being by nature Life, and begotten of the Life that is by nature, of God the Father.

He is the Father’s Only-begotten Word, Who became man in order that, uniting Himself with the flesh that by the law of its own nature was perishing, He might bring it back unto His own Life and make it through Himself partaker of God the Father.

For He is Mediator between God and men, according as it is written, knit unto God the Father naturally as God and of Him, and again unto men as man; and withal having in Himself the Father and being Himself in the Father.

For He is the impress and effulgence of His Person, and not distinct from the Essence, whereof He is impress and wherefrom He proceeds as effulgence.

[…] And He wears our nature, remoulding it unto His own Life. And He is also Himself in us; for we have all been made partakers of Him, and have Him in ourselves through the Spirit.

Thus we have Both, being made partakers of the Divine Nature, and are entitled sons, in this way having in us also the Father Himself through the Son.

And Paul will testify hereof where he says: Because ye are sons, God sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. 

Cyril of Alexandria (c. 376-444): Commentary on St John’s Gospel, book 9 [on John 14:20].

Charles Wesley: Our God Contracted to a Span Monday, Dec 24 2012 

Charles_wesleyLet earth and heaven combine,
Angels and men agree,
To praise in songs divine
The incarnate Deity,
Our God contracted to a span,
Incomprehensibly made man.

He laid his glory by,
He wrapped him in our clay;
Unmarked by human eye,
The latent Godhead lay;
Infant of days he here became,
And bore the mild Immanuel’s name.

Unsearchable the love
That hath the Saviour brought;
The grace is far above
Or man or angels thought;
Suffice for us that God, we know,
Our God, is manifest below.

He deigns in flesh to appear,
Widest extremes to join;
To bring our vileness near,
And make us all divine:
And we the life of God shall know,
For God is manifest below.

Made perfect first in love,
And sanctified by grace,
We shall from earth remove,
And see his glorious face:
Then shall his love be fully showed,
And man shall then be lost in God.

Charles Wesley (1701-1778; Church of England): Hymns, 685.

A Monk of the Abbey of Bèze: Glorious Things are Said of Thee, City of God! Wednesday, Nov 7 2012 

Continued from here….

What do we have still in common with perishable things, we to whom so much is promised in Heaven?

What could we enjoy on earth in the company of sinners, we who are called to the court of the heavenly host?

What are the pleasures of the flesh to us who ought to bear the image of the celestial?

What do we have to do with the concupiscence of the eyes, we who long to gaze upon the spectacle which is pleasing to the angels?

With worldly ambition, we to whom is promised the possession of Heaven ?

Thus, while like all our fathers, we are guests and strangers, while our days pass by like a shadow over the earth and there is no respite, while the avenging angel, the blinding cloud, the wind of the tempest, and the enveloping fire pass over the earth, let us flee from the darkness of Egypt to the shadow of the wings of God, and stay there until iniquity has passed away, until the day breathes and the shadows bow low, in order to merit being placed in Abraham’s bosom.

There are the true riches, there are the treasures of wisdom, length and joy of life.

There is full force where nothing is weakness, where nothing courageous is lacking.

There is full wisdom where there is no ignorance, where no true understanding is lacking.

There is utmost felicity where there is no adversity, where no goodness is lacking.

There is full health because there is full charity, there is full beatitude because there is full vision of God.

Vision, I say, is in knowledge, knowledge is found in love, love is with praise, and praise finds security and ail this is without end.

Who will give us wings like the dove, and we shall fly across all the kingdoms of this world, and we shall penetrate the depths of the eastern sky?

Who then will conduct us to the city of the great King in order that what we now read in these pages and see only as in a glass, darkly, we may then look upon the face of God present before us, and so rejoice?

City of God! What glorious things have they not said of thee!

In thee is the home of those who are joyous, in thee is the light, and the life of all.

Thy foundation is a single stone, a living cornerstone, uniquely precious.

Thy gates will shine with splendid diamonds. They will be opened wide.

Thy walls will be of precious stones, thy towers gleaming with jewels.

Anonymous Monk of the Benedictine Abbey of Bèze (early 12th century?): Elevations on the Glories of Jerusalem (quoted in Jean Leclercq OSB, The Love of Learning and the Desire for God; A Study of Monastic Culture, ch 45).

A Monk of the Abbey of Bèze: He Is the Golden Altar of the Holy of Holies Monday, May 21 2012 

Continued from here….

Then will be the month of months, and the most glorious of sabbaths.

Then will the light of the moon be like to the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will shine with seven-fold brilliance, and every saint’s face will shine like the sun in the kingdom of his Father.

This city will have no need of the sun’s light; but God the all-Powerful will illumine it.

His torch is the Lamb: the Lamb of God, the Lamb without spot whom the Father sent into the world as a saving victim.

Living without sin, dying for sinners, the Lamb took away the sin of the world, loosed the pains of hell and liberated the prisoners from the lake without water, triumphant before them, and reinstating them in His kingdom by His side.

He is most beautiful in countenance, very desirable to see, He upon whom the Angels desire to gaze.

He is the King of peace, He whose countenance is desired by all the world.

He is the propitiator of sinners, the friend of the poor, the consoler of the afflicted, the guardian of the little ones.

He is the teacher of the childlike, the guide of pilgrims, the redeemer of those who have died, the courageous helper of warriors, the generous rewarder of victors.

He is the golden altar of the Holy of Holies, the place of rest of sons, the spectacle pleasing to the angels.

He is the sublime throne of the supreme Trinity, raised above all, He who is blessed of the ages.

He is the crown of the Saints, the light of all, the light of angels.

O what will we give Him in return for all He has given us?

When shall we be delivered from the body of this death?

When shall we be filled with the abundance of the house of God, seeing the light in His light?

When then will the Christ appear, our life, and shall we be with Him in glory?

When shall we see the Lord God in the lamb of the living, the kindly rewards, the man of peace, the dweller in repose, the consoler of the afflicted?

When shall we see the first-born of the dead, the joy of the Resurrection, the man of the right hand of God, He whom the Father has established?

He is the Son of God, chosen from among thousands.

Anonymous Monk of the Benedictine Abbey of Bèze (early 12th century?): Elevations on the Glories of Jerusalem (quoted in Jean Leclercq OSB, The Love of Learning and the Desire for God; A Study of Monastic Culture, ch 45).

John of Fécamp: O Life Most Joyful, O Kingdom Truly Blessed Friday, May 18 2012 

O life that God has prepared for those who love him! (1Cor 2:8)

[…] O life, ignorant of death, knowing nothing of sorrow: life without stain, without corruption, without pain, without anxiety, without disturbance, without variation or change;

O life replete with elegance and dignity, where there is no adversary to fight where there are no enticements of sin,

where there is perfect love without fear (1 Jn 4:18), where there is eternal day and union of all spirits,

where God is seen face to face (1 Cor 13:12), and the mind is sated with the never-failing food of life! (cf. Ps 16:14-15).

It pleases me to concentrate on your glory: for the more I strive to consider, the more your goodness delights my eager heart: For I am faint with love (Cant 2:5, 5:8), I burn with eager desire for you, I greatly delight in your sweet memory (cf Cant 2:14).

And so it pleases me, to raise the eyes of my heart to you, to establish the state of my mind to conform the dispositions of my soul.

It pleases me to speak of you, to hear of you, to write about you, to converse about you, to read daily of your blessedness and glory, and to constantly repeat it in my heart on my bed (Ps 62:6).

[…] For this reason I enter into the pleasant garden of Sacred Scripture, to pick the most brilliant green herbs of sacred verses:

[1] I devour them by reading,

[2] I repeat them by ruminating,

[3] and gathering them at last into the high repose of memory,

[4] I taste in this way your sweetness, thinking not at all of the bitterness of this unhappy life.

O life most joyful, O kingdom truly blessed, where death is gone and limits absent,

where ages are not measured by the passing of time,

where continuous day without night is ignorant of time,

where victorious soldiers join the hymnody of the angelic choir and sing to God unceasingly the Songs of Zion, their heads adorned with noble crowns.

Would that I were granted forgiveness of sins, that this covering of flesh could soon be laid aside!

Would, O would that I could enter in to your true joys and take my rest, advancing to the brilliant, spacious walls of your city,

to receive the crown of life from the hand of the Lord,

to join that most holy choir and with the blessed spirits stand before the glory of the Creator, to see Christ face to face,

to behold forever that high, ineffable, and unlimited light,

and, thus unperturbed by the fear of death, to be freed by incorruption to undertake the eternal vocation of rejoicing without end!

John of Fécamp (d. 1079): Book of the Writings and Sayings of the Ancient Fathers, ch. 22.

Leo the Great: Inheriting the Earth Sunday, Sep 4 2011 

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

This mourning, beloved, to which eternal comforting is promised, is not the same as the affliction of this world:  nor do those laments which are poured out in the sorrowings of the whole human race make any one blessed.

The reason for holy groanings, the cause of blessed tears, is very different.  Religious grief mourns sin either that of others’ or one’s own.

Nor does it mourn for that which is wrought by God’s justice, but it laments over that which is committed by man’s iniquity, where he that does wrong is more to be deplored than he who suffers it, because the unjust man’s wrongdoing plunges him into punishment, but the just man’s endurance leads him on to glory.

Next the Lord says:  “blessed are the meek, for they shall possess the earth by inheritance.” To the meek and gentle, to the humble and modest, and to those who are prepared to endure all injuries, the earth is promised for their possession.

And this is not to be reckoned a small or cheap inheritance, as if it were distinct from our heavenly dwelling, since it is no other than these who are understood to enter the kingdom of heaven.

The earth, then, which is promised to the meek, and is to be given to the gentle in possession, is the flesh of the saints, which in reward for their humility will be changed in a happy resurrection, and clothed with the glory of immortality, in nothing now to act contrary to the spirit, and to be in complete unity and agreement with the will of the soul.

For then the outer man will be the peaceful and unblemished possession of the inner man.

Then the mind, engrossed in beholding God, will be hampered by no obstacles of human weakness nor will it any more have to be said “The body which is corrupted, weighs upon the soul, and its earthly house presses down the sense which thinks many things” (Wisdom 9:15).

For the earth will not struggle against its tenant, and will not venture on any insubordination against the rule of its governor.

For the meek shall possess it in perpetual peace, and nothing shall be taken from their rights, “when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality” (1 Cor. 15:53), that their danger may turn into reward, and what was a burden become an honour.

Leo the Great (c.400-461): Sermon 96, 4-5.

 

John Tauler: “When the Spirit Looks Within, to the Spirit of God, from the Ground of the Heart” Saturday, Apr 16 2011 

St Thomas Aquinas says this: “Great external works, however great they may be, inasmuch as they are works, have their own reward.

But when the Spirit looks within, to the Spirit of God, from the ground of the heart,

where man, empty and bare of all works, seeks God only,

far above all thoughts, works and reason,

it is truly a thorough conversion, which will ever be met with a corresponding reward,

and God will be with him.”

Another conversion may take place in an ordinary external way, whenever man turns to God,

thinking wholly and entirely of Him,

and of nothing else but of God for Himself and in Himself.

But the first turning is in an inner, undefined, unknown presence,

in an immaterial entrance of the created spirit into the uncreated Spirit of God.

If a man could only once in his life thus turn to God, it would be well for him.

Those men whose God is so powerful, and Who has been so faithful to them in all their distress, will be answered by God with Himself.

He draws them so mysteriously unto Himself and His own blessedness;

their spirits are so lovingly attracted, while they are at the same time so filled and transfused with the Godhead, that they lose all their diversity in the Unity of the Godhead.

These are they to whom God makes their work here on earth a delight;

so that they have a real foretaste of that which they will enjoy forever.

These are they on whom the Holy Christian Church rests;

and, if they did not form part of Christianity, Christianity could no longer exist;

for their mere existence, what they are, is infinitely worthier and more useful than all the doings of the world.

These are they of whom our Lord has said:

“He that toucheth you, toucheth the apple of Mine eye.”

Therefore, take heed that ye do them no wrong. May God help us.

John Tauler (c.1300-1361): Sermon on the Feast of St John the Baptist.

Bruno the Carthusian: In The Future Heavenly Zion Christ Will Divinize His People Monday, Sep 13 2010 

How delightful is your dwelling-place, Lord of hosts! My soul is weak with longing for the courts of your palace.

[…] The psalmist shows why he desires to enter the courts of the Lord: Lord, God of all powers in heaven, my king and my God, blessed are they who dwell in your house.

It is as if he said, ‘Who would not wish to enter your courts, since you are God, that is, the Creator, the Lord of the powers, the King, and since all are blessed who live in your house?’…

When he says ‘blessed’ he means that they have all conceivable blessedness. And they are surely blessed, because they will praise you with loving devotion for ever, that is, for all eternity.

They would not be able to praise the Lord for all eternity unless they were blessed for all eternity…

But no-one can reach this blessedness on his own, even if he has hope, faith and love.

Blessed is the man whose help comes from you – in other words, only the man whose help comes from you will attain the blessedness he has set his heart on.

That is to say: the only people who will attain blessedness are those who set their hearts on climbing many steps of virtue and good works, but also receive the help of your grace.

No one can climb by himself, as the Lord himself has said: No-one has gone up to heaven except the Son of Man who is in heaven.

I say that he is climbing to you because he now lives in the valley of tears, that is, in this present life, which is lowly and filled with the tears of tribulation; as opposed to the other life, which can be called a mountain in comparison, a mountain full of joy.

[…] The lawgiver, that is, Christ, gave us the law and he gives us and will go on giving us blessings (that is, the many gifts of grace) by which he blesses his own people.

This means he will raise them up to blessedness, and so they will go from strength to strength as they climb.

In the future heavenly Zion Christ will be seen, the God of gods, and since he is God he will make his people divine also.

Or, if you prefer, you can say that the God of gods, God the Trinity, will be visible in a spiritual sense in those who dwell in Zion.

By the light of their understanding they will see God in themselves in a way that now they cannot, for God will be all in all.

Bruno the Carthusian (c. 1035-1101): Commentary on Psalm 83, from Office of Readings for Thursday in the 23rd week of Ordinary time @ Crossroads Initiative.

R. Garrigou-Lagrange: Gifts of the Holy Spirit (2) – Piety Friday, Jul 30 2010 

Fear has a negative element, making us flee from sin; but the soul needs a more filial attitude toward God.

The gift of piety inspires us precisely with a wholly filial affection for our Father in heaven, for Christ our Savior, for our Mother, the Blessed Virgin, for our holy protectors.

This gift supplies for the imperfection of the virtue of religion, which renders to God the worship due Him, in the discursive manner of human reason illumined by faith.

There is no spiritual impulse and no lasting fervor without the gift of piety, which hinders us from becoming attached to sensible consolations in prayer and makes us draw profit from dryness, aridities, which are intended to render us more disinterested and spiritual.

St. Paul writes to the Romans: You have received the spirit of adoption of sons, whereby we cry: Abba (Father)…

“Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmity. For we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit Himself asketh for us with unspeakable groaning.

By this gift we find a supernatural sweetness even in our interior sufferings;

it is particularly manifest in the prayer of quiet, in which the will is captivated by the attraction of God, although the intellect often has to struggle against distractions.

By its sweetness this gift makes us resemble Christ, who was meek and humble of heart.

Its fruit, according to St. Augustine, is the beatitude of the meek, who shall possess the land of heaven.

St. Bernard and St. Francis de Sales excelled in the gift of piety.

R. Garrigou-Lagrange OP (1877-1964): The Three Ages of the Interior Life.

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