The Happiness of Heaven

Who can fathom the joy that awaits us in heaven? In this impassioned meditation, Saint Alphonsus Liguori reflects upon the infinite joy the blessed soul will experience upon its entrance into the heavenly city. For us souls still upon earth, the thought of the indescribable bliss that awaits us ought to stir our hearts to deeper love for God.

The beauties of the saints, the heavenly music, and all the other delights of paradise form but the lesser portion of its treasures. The possession which gives to the soul its fullness of bliss is that of seeing a loving God face to face. Saint Augustine says that were God to let His beautiful face be seen by the damned, hell with all its torments would become to them a paradise. Even in this world, when God gives a soul in prayer a taste of His sweet presence, and by a ray of light discovers to it His goodness and the love which He bears it, so great is the contentment that the soul feels itself dissolve and melt away in love, and yet, in this life, it is not possible for us to see God as He is; we behold Him obscured, as if through a thick veil. What, then, will it be when God shall take away that veil from before us and shall cause us to behold Him face to face openly?

O Lord, for having turned my back upon You, no more should I be worthy to behold You, but, relying on Your goodness, I hope to see You and to love You in paradise forever. I speak thus because I am speaking with a God who has died in order to give paradise to me.

Although the souls that love God are the most happy in this world, yet they cannot, here below, enjoy a happiness full and complete; that fear, which arises from not knowing whether they be deserving of the love or the hatred of their beloved Savior, keeps them, as it were, in perpetual suffering. But in paradise the soul is certain that it loves God and is loved by God, and it sees that that sweet tie of love which holds it united with God will never be loosened throughout all eternity. The flames of its love will be increased by the clearer knowledge which the soul will then possess of what the love of God has been in being made man, and having willed to die for it, and in having, moreover, given Himself to it in the sacrament of the Eucharist. Its love will be increased by then beholding, in all their distinctness, the graces which He has given it in order to lead it to heaven; it will see that the crosses sent to it in life have all been artifices of His love to render it happy. It will see, besides, the mercies He has granted it, the many lights and calls to penance. From the summit of that blessed Mount will it behold the many lost souls now in hell for sins less than its own, and it will behold itself now saved, possessed of God, and certain that it can nevermore lose Him throughout all eternity. My Jesus, my Jesus, when will that too happy day for me arrive?

The happiness of the blessed soul will be perfected by knowing with absolute certainty that God whom it then enjoys it will have to enjoy for all eternity. Were there to be any fear in the blessed that they might lose that God whom they now enjoy, paradise would no more be paradise. But no; the blessed soul is certain, with the certainty which it has of the existence of God, that supreme good which it enjoys, it will enjoy forever. That joy, moreover, will not grow less with time; it will be ever new. The blessed one will be ever happy and ever thirsting for that happiness, and on the other hand, while ever thirsting, will be ever satiated. When, therefore, we see ourselves afflicted with the troubles of this life, let us lift up our eyes unto heaven and console ourselves by saying, paradise. The sufferings will one day come to an end; nay, they will themselves become objects over which to rejoice. The saints await us; the angels await us; Mary awaits us; and Jesus stands with the crown in His hand wherewith to crown us if we shall be faithful to Him.

Ah, my God, when will come that day on which I shall arrive at possessing You and be able to say unto You, my love, I cannot lose You anymore? O Mary, my hope, never cease from praying for me, until you see me safe at your feet in paradise!

This article is taken from a chapter in The Road to Calvary: Daily Meditations for Lent and Easter by Saint Alphonsus Liguori which is available from TAN Books



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