IN HEAVEN YOU WILL NOT BE FREE; YOU WILL BE SUPER-FREE

Grand_Canyon_in_fog

” [In Heaven] our will will be invincibly ravished by the attraction of God seen face to face.

I remember walking along the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, ravished by the beauty of its awe-inspiring scenery. Every few steps, looking out on the beauty of the landscape, I would say, “Unbelievable,” or “Amazing,” and then with a few more steps along the bend in the trail, with a new, beautiful view opening up, I would say, “even more amazing,” or words to that effect. This is what Heaven will be like – although infinitely more beautiful – as we will simply be ravished by God’s supernal Beauty and Goodness forevermore, with each gaze on His face seemingly more awesome and amazing than the previous one. But perhaps it would be best if someone with the genius, wisdom and mystical knowledge of  Saint Thomas Aquinas explained to us what Heaven will be like, although in the quote which follows I am actually relying on St. Thomas’ Dominican successor, Father Garrigou-LaGrange, who is in turn relying on Saint Thomas:

“St. Thomas admits also that in heaven our beatitude will consist essentially in the beatific vision, in the intellectual and immediate vision of the divine essence, for it is above all by this immediate vision that we shall take possession of God for eternity. We shall plunge the gaze of our intellect into the depths of His inner life seen directly. God will thus give Himself immediately to us, and we shall give ourselves to Him. We shall possess Him and He will possess us, because we shall know Him as He knows Himself and as He knows us. Beatific love will be in us a consequence of this immediate vision of the divine essence; it will even be a necessary consequence, for the beatific love of God will no longer be free, but superfree, above liberty. Our will will be invincibly ravished by the attraction of God seen face to face. We shall see His infinite goodness and beauty so clearly that we shall be unable not to love Him; we shall even be unable to find any pretext of momentarily interrupting this act of superfree love, which will no longer be measured by time, but by participated eternity, by the single instant of the immobile duration of God, the instant that never passes. In heaven the love of God and the joy of possessing Him will necessarily follow the beatific vision, which will thus be the essence of our beatitude.(31) All this is true. It is difficult to affirm more strongly than St. Thomas does the superiority of the intellect over the will in principle and in the perfect life of heaven.”

We need to see that the reward that awaits us in the life to come – in Heaven –  is well worth the trials and tribulations we may have to endure here on planet Earth for a few more decades (or perhaps only a few more years or even months). God has made us to share forever in His Infinite Blessedness! Amazing, but true! Our brother Jesus has paved a path for us to follow, leading to the Father, and it will be well worth it for us to stay the course! “Persevere, my friend, for the reward is Eternal Life.”

Tom Mulcahy

By: Quote by Father Garrigou-Lagrange, Ch 8: “The True Nature of Christian Perfection,” The Three Ages of the Interior Life, Volume I

P.S. Another amazing aspect of Heaven will be the “exulting” splendor of our glorified and risen bodies. On this topic, see The Creator and the Creature, pages 229-231, by F.W. Faber. Mark Mallett has a song with the lyric: “Persevere, my friend, for the reward is Eternal Life.”

Image: Grand Canyon.

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