The Happiness of Heaven
Taken from the book "Preparation for Death" by St. Alphonsus de Liguori, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
In this life, the greatest pain which afflicts souls that are in desolation and love God, arises from the fear of not loving Him, and of not being loved by Him. "Man knoweth not whether he be worthy of love or hatred." (Eccles. 9: 1). But in Heaven the soul is certain that it loves God, and that He embraces it as a beloved child and that this love will not be dissolved for all eternity. These blessed flames will be augmented by the increased knowledge which the soul will then have of the greatness of the love of God, in becoming man and dying for us; of His love in instituting the Most Holy Sacrament, in which a God becomes the food of a worm. Then also will the soul clearly see all the graces which God has bestowed upon it in delivering it from so many temptations and so many dangers of perdition; it will then understand that the tribulations, infirmities, persecutions, and losses, which it called misfortunes and divine chastisements, were all love, all means intended by divine Providence to conduct it to Heaven. It will see particularly the patience of God in bearing with it after so many sins, and the mercies He had shown it in giving it so many lights and invitations to His love. From that blessed mountain it will behold so many souls in Hell, condemned for fewer sins than it had committed and will see that it is saved, that it is in the possession of God, and secure against all danger of ever losing that Sovereign Good for all eternity.
When the soul has once entered into the happy kingdom of God, “there will be nothing to molest it. God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and death shall be no more, not mourning, nor crying, nor sorrow shall be any more; for the former things are passed away. And He that sat on the throne said: Behold I make all things new” (Apoc. 21:4). In Heaven there is no infirmity, no poverty, no distress; there are no longer the vicissitudes of days and nights, nor of cold and heat; but a perpetual day always serene, an eternal spring always delightful. There are no persecutions; no envy. In that kingdom of love, all love one another tenderly; and each rejoices in the good of the other as if it were his own. There are no fears; because the soul, being confirmed in grace, can no longer sin nor lose her God. “Behold I make all things new.” Everything is new; everything gives consolation and content. The sight will be filled with delight in beholding this city of perfect beauty. How delightful the view of a city in which the streets are of crystal, the palaces of silver, the ceilings of gold, and all adorned with festoons of flowers! Oh! how much more beautiful the city of paradise! how splendid the appearance of these citizens, who are all clothed in royal robes; for, as St. Augustine says, they are all kings. How delightful must it be to behold Mary, who will appear more beautiful than all paradise! But what must it be to see the Lamb of God, the Heavenly Spouse, Jesus! St. Theresa had one transient glimpse of one of the hands of Jesus Christ, and was struck senseless by its beauty. The smell will be regaled with odors but with the odors of paradise. The ear will be delighted with celestial harmony. St. Francis once heard from an angel a single stroke on a violin, and almost died through joy. What then must it be to hear the whole choir of saints and angels chanting the glories of God! ”They shall praise Thee forever and ever” (Ps. 83:5). What must it be to hear Mary praising God! St. Francis de Sales says that, as the singing of the nightingale surpasses that of all of the other birds, so the voice of Mary is far superior to that of all the other saints. In a word, in Heaven are found all the delights which can be desired.
When, therefore, the crosses of this life afflict us, let us animate ourselves with the hope of Heaven to bear them patiently. St. Mary of Egypt, being asked at the end of her life by the Abbot Zozimus, how she had been able to live for so many years in such a desert, replied: “With the hope of Heaven.” When the dignity of Cardinal was offered to St. Philip Neri, he threw up the cap in the air, exclaiming, “Paradise! Paradise!” At the mention of paradise, Brother Giles, of the Order of St. Francis, was raised up from the ground through joy. Let us likewise, when we are afflicted by the miseries of this life, raise up our eyes to Heaven, and console ourselves, saying with a sigh, “Heaven! Heaven!” Let us reflect that if we be faithful to God, all these sorrows, miseries, and fears will one day have an end, and we shall be admitted into that blessed country, where we shall enjoy complete happiness as long as God will be God. Behold, the saints are expecting us, Mary is expecting us, and Jesus stands with a crown in His hand, to make us kings in that eternal kingdom. Prayer to St. Joseph For a Good Life and a Happy Death O Glorious St. Joseph, spouse of the Immaculate Virgin, obtain for me a pure, humble and charitable mind and perfect resignation to the Divine Will. Be my guide, father, and model through life, that I may merit to die as thou didst die, in the arms of Jesus and Mary. Amen.