Saturday, 23 May 2015
An Eternity of Heaven Or Hell. Part 3, By Rev. Clement Henry Crock. “MAN SHALL GO INTO THE HOUSE OF HIS ETERNITY” -ECCLES. 12:5.
Now let us analyze the MEANING OF THE BEATIFIC VISION. It is composed of three Latin words, namely, “beatus,” happy; “facio,” I make; and “visio,” sight; all of which taken together may be translated as a HAPPY-MAKING SIGHT. Therefore, Beatific Vision means a sight which contains in itself the power to banish all pain, all sorrow from the beholder, and to infuse, in their stead, joy and happiness. Then, considering it as a perfect and permanent state, the Beatific Vision consists in three acts which are essential to its integrity and perfection. These are:
(1) the sight or vision of God; (2) the love of God; and (3) the enjoyment of God. These three acts, while distinct from each other, are inseparable; for, by excluding any one of these, the Beatific Vision no longer exists in its integrity.
Let us explain: (1) The greatest and most essential joy of the Blessed consists in the VISION OF GOD, seeing Him face to face, and the enjoyment of His infinite beauty. “Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5, 8). On this earth there is nothing even remotely comparable to this vision. “We see now,” says Saint Paul, “through a glass in a dark manner, but then face to face.” This sight or vision of God is attained, not by the eyes of the body, but through the intellect- the noblest faculty of the soul- which is suddenly elevated by the light of glory, and enabled to see God as He is by a clear and unclouded perception of His divine essence. We shall then see and understand God in the Most Holy Trinity—the infinitely powerful Father Who created us, the infinitely wise Son Who redeemed us, and the infinitely good Holy Ghost who sanctified us.
“He will all glory, all perfection be,
God in Union, and the Trinity!
That holy, great, and glorious mystery,
Will there revealed be in majesty,
By light and comfort of spiritual grace;
The vision of our Saviour face to face,
In his humanity; to hear him preach
The price of our redemption, and to teach
Through his inherent righteousness in death,
The safety of our souls and forfeit breath!
What fulness of beatitude is here!
With love with mercy mixed doth appear!”
(2) The last line indicates the second act on the part of the soul in order to complete the Beatific Vision. It is an act of perfect and inexpressible love, because it is impossible for the soul to see God in His heavenly beauty, goodness, and unspeakable love for us, without loving Him with all the power of our being in return.
“What love with mercy mixed doth appear!
To style us friend, who were by nature foes!
Adopt us heirs by grace, who were of those
Had lost ourselves; and prodigally spent
Our native portions and possessed rent!
Yet have all debts forgiven us! and advance
By imputed right to an inheritance
In his eternal kingdom, where we sit,
Equal with angels, and coheirs of it.”
Although the tongue of man is powerless to describe adequately so great a wonder, this blending together of the human and divine love, yet, we see some image of it in sensible, or visible objects. In nature, the stronger always attracts the weaker. Thus the grey iron that is placed in the fire takes in heaven shall be so inflamed with the fire on the appearance of fire. So also the Blessed of God’s love, that, although their nature remains unchanged, they will differ from those on earth as fire at white heat from the frozen clod.
(3) With the seeing of God face to face, with this intense love that arises through the Beatific Vision, there follows the third act, namely, that indescribable joy which proceeds spontaneously from both the vision and the love of God. “There all the happy souls that ever were,
Shall meet with gladness in one theatre;
And each shall know there one another’s face,
By beatific virtue of the place.
There shall the brother with the sister walk,
And sons and daughters with their parents talk;
But all of God: they still shall have to say,
But make him all in all their theme that day;
That happy day that never shall see night!
Where he will be all beauty to the sight.”
We know even now what joy comes to us when we are in the company of friends we love. If the Saints could faint away from the love of God they already experienced here on earth, what must be their rapturous love when, wrapt in God’s loving embrace, they gaze upon Him as He is! The Beatific Vision, then, is what makes heaven for the soul. But it is only the beginning of our heavenly happiness; for, we shall not only see God, the source of all loveliness; we shall not only possess God, the source of all goodness; we shall not only love God, the source of all delight; but we shall become like to Him, says Saint John (I John 3, 2). “We know that, when he appears, we shall be like to Him, for we shall see Him, just as He is.”
With Ecclesiastical Approval.