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CHAPTER XII. On The Immeasurable Joys of Heaven.
Eternal Wisdom.—Now lift up thy eyes and see where thou dost belong. Thou dost belong to the Fatherland of the celestial paradise. Thou art here as a stranger guest, a miserable pilgrim; therefore, as a pilgrim hastens back to his home where his dear friends expect him, and wait for him with great longing, so shouldst thou desire to hasten back to thy fatherland, where all will be glad to see thee, where all long so ardently for thy joyous presence, that they may greet thee tenderly, and unite thee to their blessed society for ever. And didst thou but know how they thirst after thee, how they desire that thou shouldst combat devoutly in suffering, and behave chivalrously in all adversity, even such as they have overcome, and how they now with great sweetness remember the cruel years through which they once passed, truly, all suffering would only be the easier to thee, for, the more bitterly thou shalt have suffered, the more honourably wilt thou be received. Oh, then, how pleasant will honour be, what joy will then pervade thy heart and mind when thy soul shall be so honourably praised, commended, and extolled by Me before My Father and all the heavenly host, because she has suffered so much, and fought against and overcome so much in this scene of temporal strife, in whose fulness of reward many a one who has never known affliction will have no participation. How brightly will not then the crown shine that here below is gained with such bitterness! How exquisitely beautiful will not the wounds and marks glitter, which here below are received from My love! So welcome wilt thou be made in thy fatherland, that the greatest stranger to thee of all its countless hosts will love thee more ardently and faithfully than any father or mother ever loved the child of their bosom in this scene of time.
The Servant.—O Lord, through Thy goodness, dare I hope that Thou wilt tell me yet more about my fatherland, so that I may long for it all the more, and may suffer every affliction the more cheerfully? Yes, my Lord, what manner of place is my fatherland? Or what do people do there? Or are there very many people there? Or do they really know so well what takes place with us on earth as Thy words declare?
Eternal Wisdom.—Now, then, ascend thou on high with Me. I will carry thee thither in spirit, and will give thee, after a rude similitude, a distant glimpse into the future. Behold, above the ninth heaven, which is incalculably more than a hundred thousand times larger than the entire earth, there is another heaven which is called Coelum Empyreum, the fiery heaven, so called, not from its being of fire, but from its immeasurably transparent brightness, which is immovable and unchangeable in its nature; and this is the glorious court in which the heavenly hosts dwell, where the morning star with the rest praises Me, and all the children of God rejoice. There stand, encompassed with inconceivable light, the everlasting thrones, from which the evil spirits were hurled, in which the elect are seated. See how the delightful city shines with beaten gold, how it glitters with costly jewels, inlaid with precious stones, transparent as crystal, reflecting red roses, white lilies, and all living flowers. Now, look on the beautiful heavenly fields themselves. Lo! here all delights of summer, here sunny meads of May, here the very valley of bliss, here the glad moments are seen flitting from joy to joy; here harps and viols, here singing, and leaping, and dancing, hand in hand for ever! here the gratification of every desire, here pleasure without pain in everlasting security! Now, look how the countless multitude drink to their hearts’ desire at the living fountains of gushing water; look how they feast their eyes on the pure, clear mirror of the revealed Divinity, in which all things are made plain and evident to them. Steal a little nearer, and mark how the sweet queen of the celestial kingdom, whom thou lovest with so much ardour, soars aloft in dignity and joy over the whole celestial host, reclining tenderly on her beloved, encircled with rose-flowers and lilies of the valley. See how her ravishing beauty fills with delight and wonder all the heavenly choirs. Oh, now behold what will rejoice thy heart and soul, and see how the mother of compassion has turned her compassionate eyes towards thee and all sinners, and how powerfully she appeals to her beloved Son, and intercedes with Him. Now, turn round with the eyes of thy pure understanding, and behold also how the high seraphim and the love-abounding souls of the seraphic choirs blaze up perpetually in Me; how the bright company of the cherubim have a bright infusion and effusion of My eternal inconceivable light, how the high thrones and hosts, enjoy in Me a sweet repose, and I in them! Then see how the triplicity of the other hosts, the lordships, powers, and dominations, regularly fulfill My beautiful and eternal order in the universality of nature. Mark, too, how the third host of angelic spirits executes My high messages and decrees in the particular parts of the world; and see, how lovingly, how joyfully, and variously the multitude is marshalled, and what a beautiful sight it is! Turn next thy glance and see how My chosen disciples and best beloved friends sit in repose and honour upon their awful judgment-seats, how the martyrs glitter in their rose-coloured garments, the confessors shine in their vernal beauty, how refulgent the virgins appear in their angelic purity, how all the heavenly host overflows with divine sweetness! Oh, what a company! Oh, what a joyous band! Blessed, thrice blessed is he who was born to dwell where they dwell! Lo, to this very fatherland I shall carry home from misery and tribulation, arrayed in all the richness of her rich morning gift, My beloved bride in My arms. I shall adorn her interiorly with the beautiful garment of the eternal light of that glory which will exalt her above all her natural powers. She will be clothed exteriorly with the glorified body, which is seven times brighter than the sun’s light, swift, subtle, and to suffering, impassive; then I shall put on her the crown of delight, and on the crown a golden garland.
The Servant.—Gentle Lord, what is the morning gift, and what the crown and golden garland?
Eternal Wisdom.—The morning gift is a clear vision of that which here below thou dost merely believe in, an actual comprehending of that which now thou hopest for, and a heartfelt pleasant enjoyment of that which on earth thou lovest. As to the beautiful crown, it is essential reward, but the blooming garland is accidental reward.
The Servant.—Lord, what is that?
Eternal Wisdom.—Accidental reward consists in such particular delight as souls obtain by particular and meritorious works wherewith they have conquered here below, even as the souls of great doctors, steadfast martyrs, and pure virgins. But essential reward consists in the contemplative union of the soul with the pure Divinity, for rest she never can till she be borne above all her powers and capacities, and introduced to the natural entity of the Persons, and to the clear vision of their real essence. And in the emanation of the splendour of Their essence she will find full and perfect satisfaction and everlasting happiness; and the more disengaged and abstracted the self-egression of such souls is, the more free will be their soaring exaltation; and the more free their exaltation, the deeper will be their penetration into the vast wilderness and unfathomable abyss of the unknown Godhead, wherein they are immersed, overflowed, and blended up, 55 Without prejudice, however, to their own individuality, as Suso elsewhere clearly teaches. so that they desire to have no other will than God’s will, and that they become the very same that God is: in other words, that they be made blessed by grace as He is by nature. Raise then thy countenance joyfully, forget for a while all thy tribulations, comfort thy heart in this dark silent scene with the secret vision which thou now enjoyest of the society of the blessed, and behold how blooming and fair those faces appear which here on earth were so often red with shame for My sake; lift up thy glad heart and speak as follows: Where now is that bitter shame which so cruelly pierced your pure hearts? Where now the bowed heads, the cast down eyes? where the suppressed sorrow of heart, the deep sighs and bitter tears? where the pale looks, the dire poverty, and manifold infirmities? Where is now the miserable voice thus speaking: “Alas, my Lord and my God, how sad at heart I am!” Where are all those now who so greatly oppressed and despised you? No more are heard such words at these: “Ho, for the combat! ho, for the strife! be ready day and night like one who fights against the heathen!” Where is now what you were wont, in the presence of grace, to say a thousand times interiorly: “Art thou prepared to combat steadily when forsaken?” No more is heard the sad and lamentable cry which you so often uttered: “O God, why hast Thou forsaken me!” Rather do I hear the sweet words lovingly sounding in your ears: “Come hither to Me, My blessed ones, possess the everlasting kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world.” Where is now all the sorrow and affliction which ye ever endured on earth? O God, how swiftly is it all vanished like a dream as though ye had never known tribulation! Of a truth, gentle Lord, how inscrutable are Thy judgments to the world! Happy you, ye elect, it is all over now with dwelling in nooks and corners, with stealing away and hiding yourselves from the senseless follies of other men. Oh, if all hearts were but one heart, they could not sufficiently reflect on the great honour, the immeasurable deserts, the praise which you will evermore possess. O ye heavenly princes, O ye noble kings and emperors, O ye eternal children of God, how full of joy are your countenances, how full of gladness your hearts! What a loftiness of soul ye have! How right cheerfully do your voices swell forth in this song: Praise and thanksgiving, glory and benediction, grace and joy and everlasting honour to Him, from world to world, from eternity to eternity, from the very bottom of our hearts, to Him by whose goodness we possess all these things for ever and ever! Amen! Lo, here is our fatherland, here is heartfelt jubilation, here is unfathomable everlasting life!
The Servant.—O wonder above all wonders! Ah, fathomless good, what art Thou? Yes, my gentle Lord, my chosen One, how good it is to be here! O my only Love, let us tarry here!
Eternal Wisdom.—It is not yet time to tarry here. Many a sharp conflict hast thou still to endure. This vision has only been shown to thee that thou mayest presently revert to it in all thy sufferings, as thus thou canst never lose courage, and wilt forget all thy sorrow; and further, as an answer to the complaint of foolish men who say that I allow My friends to fare so hard. See then what a difference there is between My friendship and the friendship of this temporal state; and to speak according to the truth, how much better than others My friends fare at My hands. I will say nothing of the great trouble, labour, and many a severe tribulation in which they swim and wade, night and day; only this, that they are so blinded they do not understand it. It is indeed My eternal economy that a mind not regulated should be a sharp torment and heavy burden to itself. My friends have bodily distress, but then they have peace of heart. The friends of the world hunt after bodily comfort and ease, but in their hearts, their souls and minds, they gain nothing but trouble and vexation.
The Servant.—Those persons, Lord, are out of their right senses, and are raving, who would needs compare Thy faithful friendship and the world’s friendship together. That they should do so because Thou hast few friends who have no suffering to complain of, is the fault of their great blindness. O Lord, how very soft and gentle is Thy Fatherly rod! Blessed is he on whom Thou sparest it not. Lord, I now plainly see that tribulation does not proceed from Thy harshness, but rather from Thy tender love. Let no one say for the future that Thou hast forgotten Thy friends. Those hast Thou forgotten (for Thou hast despaired of them), on whom Thou dost spare chastisement here below. Lord, in all fairness those ought not to have joyous days, nor pleasures, nor comfort here below, whom Thou dost intend to shield above from eternal misery, and endow with everlasting delight. Grant, O Lord, that these two visions may never disappear from the eyes of my heart, so that I never may lose Thy friendship.
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