Monday, 28 April 2014

The Abiding Presence Of The Holy Ghost in the Soul, by Bede Jarrett, O.P. part 7. This Presence is of the same Nature as That In Heaven.

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1. This union, then, between God and my soul, effected by grace, is real and true. It is something more than faith can secure, a nearer relationship, a deeper, more personal knowledge, a more ardent and personal love. Indeed, so wonderful is the union effected that the teaching of the Church has been forcibly expressed in Pope Leo XIII’s Encyclical, by saying that the only difference between it and the Vision of Heaven is a difference of condition or state, a difference purely accidental, not essential. Heaven, with all its meaning, its wonders of which eye and ear and heart are ignorant, can be begun here. Moreover, it must be insisted upon, that this is not merely given to chosen souls whose sanctity is so heroic as to qualify them for canonization; it is the heritage of every soul in a state of grace. When I step outside the confessional box after due repentance and the absolution of the priest, I am in a state of grace. At once, then, this blessed union takes effect. Within me is the Holy Spirit, dwelling there, sent, given. As the object of knowledge He can be experienced by me in a personal and familiar way. I can know Him even as I am known. As the object of love He becomes my friend, stooping to my level, lifting me to His. At once, then, though still in a merely rudimentary way, can dawn upon me the glories of my ultimate reward. Even already, upon earth, I have crossed the threshold of Heaven.

2. In order for me to enjoy that ultimate vision of God, two things will be necessary for me. First, I shall need to be strengthened so as to survive the splendour and joy of it. No man can see God and live, for like St. Paul on the road to Damascus, the splendour of the vision would wholly obscure the sight. Just as a tremendous noise will strain the hearing of the ear, or an over bright light will dazzle the eyes to blindness, or an overwhelming joy will break the heart with happiness, so would the vision of God strike with annihilation the poor weak soul. Hence the light of glory, as it is called by the theologians, has to be brought into use. By this is meant that strengthening of the human faculties which enables them without harm to confront the Truth, Goodness, Power, Beauty of God. Secondly, this vision implies an immediate contact with God. It is no question simply of faith or hope, but of sight and possession, so that there should be no more veils, no more reproductions or reflections of God, but God Himself. Those two things sum up what we mean by the Beatific Vision. Now, then, if there is a similarity of kind between that union in heaven and the union that can be reflected on earth, then grace in this life must play the part of the light of glory in the next, and I must be able in consequence to enter into personal relations and immediate contact with God.

3. Such, then, is the likeness between the indwelling of the Spirit on earth, and the beatific vision. Wherein comes the difference? The difference one may say is largely a difference of consciousness. Here on earth I have so much to distract me that I cannot possibly devote myself in the same way as then I shall be able to do. There are things here that have got to be done, and there is the body itself which can only stand a certain amount of concentration and intensity. If strained too much it just breaks down and fails. All this complicates and hampers me. But in heaven I shall take on something (of course a great deal intensified) of the consciousness and alertness of youth. A child can thoroughly enjoy itself, for it has got the happy faculty of forgetting the rest of life, all its troubles, anxieties, fears. Heaven, then, means the lopping off of all those menaces, and the consequent full appreciation of God in knowledge and love. Hence I must not be disturbed if here on earth all these wonderful things which I learn about concerning the indwelling of the Holy Spirit do not seem to take place. It is very unfortunate that I do not appreciate them, but it is something at least to know that they are there. It is a nuisance that I do not see Him, but it is something at least to be certain He is within me.