“THOU SHALT BE CROWNED.”
Your sorrow shall be turned into joy (Jo. xvi. 20).
Let us during life animate ourselves by the hope of Heaven, to bear patiently the afflictions of this life, and to offer them to God in return for the sufferings Jesus Christ endured for the love of us. All these afflictions, sorrows, persecutions and tears, will one day have an end and will, if we save our souls, become to us sources of happiness and joy in the Kingdom of bliss. This is the ground of courage and hope which the Saviour holds out to us. Your sorrow shall be turned into joy (Jo. xvi. 20). The most enlightened of the Saints knew not how to give us an idea of the happiness God has prepared for His faithful servants. David could only break forth in joy, exclaiming: How lovely are thy tabernacles, O Lord of Hosts (Ps. lxxxiii. 2). But, my beloved St. Paul, do you at least, who had the happiness of being rapt up into Heaven, declare to us some of the things you have seen. No, exclaims the Apostle, for what I have seen is impossible to describe. The delights of Heaven are secret words, which it is not granted to man to utter (2 Cor. xii. 4). They are so great that they only who enjoy them are able to comprehend them. All that I can say, says the Apostle, is: It is written, ‘That eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love him’ (1 Cor. ii. 9).
At present it is impossible for us to comprehend the happiness of Heaven, because we have no idea but of earthly enjoyments. Were a horse capable of reasoning he would, if he expected a rich feast from his master, imagine it to consist in excellent hay and oats; for these are the only species of food of which he has any idea. It is thus we form our notions of the happiness of Heaven. It is beautiful in the summer to behold at night the glory of the starry heavens; delightful to pass through a garden full of fruits and flowers, flowing fountains, and the singing of birds. In such a scene one is tempted to exclaim: Oh! what a Paradise! What a Paradise! But far different are the delights of Heaven. To form some imperfect idea of them, reflect that in Heaven is an All-Powerful God Who has pledged Himself to make the soul that loves Him happy. Do you wish, says St. Bernard, to know what is in Heaven? “There is nothing there that gives displeasure; there is everything that delights.”
O Jesus, my sweet Saviour, do not abandon me! My soul is immortal: I must then either love Thee or hate Thee for all eternity. Ah! it is my wish to love Thee for eternity, and I wish to love Thee without reserve here, that I may love Thee without reserve hereafter. Dispose of me as Thou pleasest; chastise me as Thou wishest; do not deprive me of Thy love, and then do with me what Thou wilt. My Jesus, Thy merits are my hope. O Mary, I place great confidence in thy intercession. Thou didst deliver me from hell when I was in sin; now that I wish to give myself to God, obtain for me the grace to save my soul, and to become a Saint.
O God, what will be the sentiments of the soul on its entrance into that happy Kingdom? Let us represent to our minds a young virgin, who, after consecrating herself to the love of Jesus Christ, dies and quits this world. The soul is presented for Judgment: the Judge embraces her, and pronounces the sentence of her salvation. Her Angel-Guardian meets and congratulates her; she thanks him for his assistance, and the Angel then says: “Rejoice, O happy soul! Thy salvation is now secure; come and behold the face of thy Lord.” Behold, the soul now passes beyond the clouds, the spheres, the stars, and enters into Heaven. O God! what will be the feelings of that bride of Christ on first setting foot in this happy country, and beholding for the first time this city of delights! The Angels and the Saints will come to meet her, and will receive her with a joyous welcome. What shall be her consolation in rejoining there her relatives or friends who have been already admitted into Heaven, and in meeting her holy advocates!
The soul will wish to bend her knees to venerate these Saints, but they will say: See thou do it not, for we are thy fellow-servants. She will thence be carried to kiss the feet of Mary, the Queen of Heaven. What tenderness will not the soul experience in first beholding the Divine Mother who gave her so much assistance in the work of her salvation; for then the soul will see all the graces she obtained through the intercession of Mary, who will embrace her with love and tenderness. The Queen of Heaven will then conduct the soul to Jesus Who will receive her as His spouse, and say: Come from Libanus, my spouse … thou shalt be crowned (Cant. iv. 8). My spouse, rejoice: there is now an end to tears, to sufferings and to fears; receive the eternal crown I have purchased for thee by My Blood. Jesus Himself will then present her to receive the benediction of His Divine Father Who will embrace and bless her, saying: Enter thou into the joy of thy lord (Matt. xxv. 21), and will bestow upon her the same happiness He Himself enjoys.
Behold, O my God, at Thy feet an ungrateful sinner, whom thou hast created for Heaven, but who has so often, for the sake of a wretched pleasure, renounced Thee to Thy face, and has consented to be condemned to hell. But I hope Thou hast already pardoned me all the injuries I have done Thee, for which I am always sorry and will be sorry as long as I live. Of these injuries I desire to receive from Thee new pardon. But, O God, although my sins have been already forgiven, it will still be always true that I have dared to afflict Thee, my Redeemer, Who hast given Thy life to bring me to Thy Kingdom. But may Thy mercy be forever praised and blessed, my Jesus, for having borne me with so much patience, and for having bestowed upon me multiplied graces instead of chastising me as I deserved. I see, my dear Saviour, that Thou ardently desirest my salvation, and that Thou wishest to bring me to Thy Kingdom that I may love Thee for ever; but it is Thy wish that I should first love Thee here on earth. Yes; I wish to love Thee. Though there were no Heaven, I would wish to love Thee while I live, with my whole soul and with all my strength. It is enough for me to know that Thou, my God, desirest to be loved by me. My Jesus assist me by Thy grace.