Evening Meditations for Ascension Day – Fifth Week After Easter ~ St Alphonsus Liguori

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Evening Meditation


Let us consider what it is in Heaven that makes its holy citizens completely happy. The soul in Heaven sees God face to face, and knowing His infinite beauty and all the perfections that render Him worthy of infinite love, cannot but love Him with all its powers, and love Him far more than itself. Nay, as it were forgetting itself, the soul thinks of nothing but to see Him happy Who is its Beloved and its God ; and seeing that God, the only object of its affections, enjoys infinite happiness, this happiness of God constitutes all its Paradise. If a soul were capable of anything infinite, its own joy would also be infinite in seeing that its Beloved is infinitely happy, but as a creature is not capable of infinite joy, it is at least so satiated with joy that it desires nothing more. And this is that satisfaction that David sighed for when he said l shall be satisfied when thy glory shall appear-(Ps. xvi. 15). Thus also is fulfilled what God says to the soul when He admits it into Paradise : Enter into the joy of thy Lord-(Matt. xxv. 21). He does not bid the joy enter into the soul, because this, His joy, being infinite, cannot be contained m the creature; but He bids the soul enter into His joy, that it may receive a portion of it, and such a portion as will satisfy it and fill it with delight.
Therefore, in our prayer, among all acts of love towards God, there is none more perfect than the taking delight in the infinite happiness God enjoys. This is certainly the continual exercise of the Blessed in Heaven; so that he who often rejoices in the joy of God begins in this life to do that which he hopes to do in Heaven through all eternity.
The love of God with which the Saints in Paradise burn is such, that if ever a fear of losing it were to enter their thoughts,. or they were to think that they should not love Him with all their powers, as now they love Him, this fear would cause them to experience the anguish of hell. But no ; for they are as sure, as they are sure of God, that they will ever love Him with all their powers, and that they will be ever loved by God, and this mutual love will never change throughout eternity. 0 my God, make me worthy of this, through the merits of Jesus Christ.

This happiness, which constitutes Paradise, wili be further increased by the splendour of that delightful city of God, the beauty of its inhabitants, and by their companionship, especially by that of the Queen of all, Mary, who will appear fairer than ail, and by that of Jesus Christ, Whose beauty again will infinitely surpass that of Mary.
The joy of the Blessed will be increased by the know­ledge of the many dangers to ,salvation which they all passed through in this life. What, then, will be the thanksgivings offered to God by those who, through their own sins, deserved hell, and now find themselves there on high, when they see so many sinners condemned to hell for less sins than their own, while they are saved, and sure of not losing God, and destined to enjoy eter­nally those boundless delights of Heaven, of which they will never grow weary. In this life, however great and continual be our joys, with time they always weary us ; but as for the delights of Paradise, the more they are enjoyed the more they are desired ; and thus the Blessed are ever satisfied and filled with these delights, and ever desire them; they ever desire them, and ever obtain them. Wherefore that sweet song with which the Saints praise God and thank Him for the happiness He has given them, is called a new song : Sing to the Lord a new song -(Ps. xcvii. 1). It is called new, because the rejoicings of Heaven seem ever new, as though they were experi­enced for the first time; and thus they ever rejoice in them, and ever long for them ; and, while they ever long for them, they ever enjoy them. Thus, as the damned are called “vessels of wrath “-vasa irae-the Blessed are called “vessels of divine love” –vasa charitatis.
Justly, then, does St. Augustine say that to obtain this eternal blessedness there ought to be eternal labour, Hence it was little the anchorites did with all their peni­tential works and prayers to gain Heaven : it was little for the Saints to leave their riches and kingdoms to gain Paradise; little that so many Martyrs suffered, enduring racks and burning irons and cruel deaths to win Paradise.
Let us at least suffer joyfully the crosses God sends, for they will procure for us everlasting bliss. When pains, infirmities, or other adversities afflict us, let us lift our eyes to Heaven and say : One day all these sor= rows will end and I hope after that to enjoy God for eve1’l Let us endure everything; let us despise all
created things. Jesus awaits us, and stands with the crown in His hands to make us kings in Heaven.
But, O my Jesus, how can I aspire to so great a good -I who have so often, for the miserable pleasures of earth, renounced Paradise and trodden Thy grace under­ foot ? Yet, Thy Blood gives me courage to hope for Paradise though I have so often deserved hell. I hope for it because Thou hast died upon the Cross in order to bestow Paradise upon those who have not deserved it.
0 my Redeemer and my God, I resolve never more to lose Thee. Thy Kingdom come ! Through the merits of Thy Blood grant me to enter Thy Kingdom one day, and meantime enable me perfectly to fulfil Thy will_ which is the greatest good and a Paradise on earth for all who love Thee. 0 ye who love God, while we live in this valley of tears, let us sigh for .Paradise- To there behold and love our God ! When will that wished-for dawn arise ? While now l cry, ‘twixt smiles and tears, Ah, when? ah, when shall end my fears ? 0 Paradise! 0 Paradise!

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