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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

"O Beautiful Heaven, When Shall I See You?"

I've been reading the book "The End of the Present World and the Mysteries of the Future Life" by Fr Charles Arminjon. It is an excellent book - a collection of talks that Fr Arminjon gave to his parishoners in order to give them "the abiding conviction that heavenly aims, not temporal enthusiasms, must guide everything we think, say, and do." According to the book, St Therese of Lisieux found it very inspirational - she once said that reading it "plunged my soul into a happiness not of this earth," and filled her with a sense of "what God reserves for those who love Him, and seeing that the eternal rewards had no proportion to the light sacrifices of life." I had bought the book on the Little Flower's recommendation - and I have not been disappointed. [quotes taken from the back of the book]

So last night, before bed, I was reading a section on the Joys of Heaven - and came to a passage describing one time when St Augustine was delivering a sermon to his congregation.
One day, St Augustine was describing the marvels of the city of God to his people of Hippo. He did so with a voice charged with emotion, so that golden eloquence, nurtured at the fount of Scripture, which made it seem that an angel was speaking, not an inhabitant of earth. The assembled people were deeply moved and captivated, and felt as if transported to those feasts of eternity of which such a striking picture was being drawn for them, having a kind of vision of that day when the Lord would adorn the brows of the faithful with an imperishable laurel. Suddenly, their emotion was so great that they broke into groans and cries of wonder, and tears flowed from every eye. The respect due to the majesty of the sacred precincts and the silence imposed by the presence of the speaker were forgotten, and each one invoked the day when, far from all affliction, he would drink abundantly of the waters of truth and life. Each trembled lest, overcome by his frailty or led astray by seductions, he might be deprived of the blessed vision. From all sides of the holy place rang out the words: "O beautiful heaven, when shall I see you? Shall I be so senseless as to prefer the pleasures and fortune of a day to you? Who would not consent to purchase you at the price of the heaviest sacrifices and labors?"

Interrupted by these exclamations and sighs, and surprised at the effect produced by his words, Augustine was no less moved than the multitude. He wanted to proceed, to continue with the portrait of the heavenly Jerusalem he had begun; but the sobbing of his listeners and of his own emotion stifled his voice; and his tears, mingling with those of his people, formed, as it were, a torrent of mourning for the sorrows of exile and the remoteness of the beloved fatherland.


A few moments longer, and all that must end will be no more; a few more efforts, and we shall be at the close; a few more combats, and we shall attain the crown; a few more sacrifices, and we shall be in Jerusalem, where love is always new, and where there will be no other sacrifice but praise and joy. Amen.

[From 'The Seventh Conference - Eternal Beatitude and the Supernatural Vision of God']
Keep keepin' on, friends. Beyond the brutality and ugliness, despite all the sin and the suffering - the fruits of out labors will be borne out. The best is yet to come.