Spiritual Reading for Easter Sunday ~ St Alphonsus Liguori

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Spiritual Reading


The bliss of Heaven consists in seeing and loving God face to face. “Everything we expect,” says St. Augustine, “is expressed in a word of one syllable, namely, God.” The reward God promises to us does not consist altogether in the beauty, the harmony, and other advantages of the city of Paradise. God Himself, Whom the Saints are allowed to behold, is, according to the promises made to Abraham, the principal reward of the just in Heaven. I am thy reward exceeding great. (Gen. xv. 1). St. Augustine asserts that were God to show His face to the damned, “hell would be instantly changed into a paradise of delights.” And he adds that were a departed soul allowed the choice of seeing God and suffering the pains of hell, or of being freed from these pains and deprived of the sight of God, “it would prefer to see God, and to endure those torments.”

The delights of the soul infinitely surpass all the pleasures of the senses. Even in this life, Divine love infuses such sweetness into the soul when God communicates Himself to it that the body is raised from the earth. St. Peter of Alcantara once fell into such an ecstasy of love that, taking hold of a tree, he drew it up from the roots, and raised it with him on high. So great is the sweetness of Divine love, that the holy Martyrs, in the midst of their torments, felt no pain, but were on the contrary filled with joy. Hence St. Augustine says that when St. Laurence was laid on a red-hot gridiron, the fervour of Divine love made him insensible to the burning heat of the fire. Even on sinners who weep for their sins, God bestows consolations which exceed all earthly pleasures. Hence St. Bernard says: “If it be so sweet to weep for Thee, what must it be to rejoice in Thee!”

How great is the sweetness which a soul experiences when, in the time of prayer, God, by a ray of His own light, reveals to it His goodness and His mercies towards it, and particularly the love Jesus Christ has borne to it in His Passion! It feels its heart melting and, as it were, dissolved through love. But in this life we do not see God as He really is: we see Him, as it were, in the dark. We see now through a glass in a dark manner, but then face to face. (1 Cor. xiii. 12). Here below God is hidden from our view; we can see Him only with the eyes of Faith. How great shall be our happiness when the veil is raised, and we are permitted to behold God face to face! We shall then see His beauty, His greatness, His perfection, His amiableness, and His immense love for our souls.

Man knoweth not whether he be worthy of love or hatred. (Eccles. ix. 1). The fear of not loving God, and of not being loved by Him, is the greatest affliction which souls that love God endure on the earth; but in Heaven the soul is certain that it loves God and that He loves it; and sees that the Lord embraces it with infinite love, and that this love shall not be dissolved for all eternity. The knowledge of the love Jesus Christ has shown it in offering Himself in sacrifice for it on the Cross, and in making Himself its Food in the Sacrament of the Altar, shall increase the ardour of its love. It shall also see clearly all the graces God has bestowed upon it, all the helps which He has given it, to preserve it from falling into sin, and to draw it to His love.

It shall see that all the tribulations, the poverty, the infirmities and persecutions which it regards as misfortunes, have all proceeded from love, and have been the means employed by Divine Providence to bring it to glory. It shall see all the lights, loving calls, and mercies which God had granted to it after it had insulted Him by its sins. From the blessed mountain of Paradise it shall see so many souls damned for fewer sins than it had committed, and shall see that it is saved and secured against the possibility of ever losing God. Justly, then, has St. Augustine said that to gain the eternal bliss and peace of Paradise, we should embrace eternal labour.

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