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The Joys of Heaven

Hae requies mea in saeculum saeculi, hic habitabo quoniam elegi earn.

This is my resting place forever; here I will dwell, for I have chosen it.

-Psalm 132:14

The joys of heaven are joys that are pure and lasting. Imagine a man on earth like Solomon, whose every wish was satisfied. He has fortune, youth, and health; his heart finds contentment and repose in the presence and company of visible creatures whom he loves. All manner of fascinations combine to complete this man's happiness. Yet there are times when his soul is plunged in sorrow and struck by fear. He says to himself, “My happiness is ephemeral. Each day that passes removes a piece of it, and soon it will be no more.”

In heaven, happiness is stable, since the elect, confirmed in glory, are beyond all fear. The ages will succeed one another without diminishing their happiness, and without a single line creasing their brows. The certainty of eternally possessing the benefits they hold dear multiplies their sweetness a hundredfold. What a source of jubilation when, after thousands of centuries have elapsed, they reflect upon the day in the distant past when they made their triumphant ascent, and say, "Nothing is finished yet; I reign today, today I am in possession of my happiness, and I shall possess it as long as God remains God-forever and ever!"

The joys of heaven are lasting; they are not subject to any succession. The elect in heaven are no longer prisoners of time. Their new life does not slip by in measurable hours. For them there is no more past or future; but, living the life of God, they are fixed in a perpetual present.

On this earth our joys are successive: the pleasures and impressions that we felt yesterday are not those that we feel today. Happiness comes only drop by drop. It is not given to any man to gather together a day's joys in an instant, much less those of a lifetime. In heaven, however, God does not portion Himself out: He commits Himself completely, in the immutable, indivisible simplicity of His essence.

From the first moment of their incorporation into the divine life, the bliss of the saints is perfect and consummated. As the future does not diminish it in any way, so they do not long for anything from the past. Illuminated by the infinite clarity of the Word of God, they see the events that will be accomplished in a thousand years as clearly as those that were fulfilled a thousand centuries ago. Every moment, says St. Augustine, they experience, as it were, a feeling of infinite joy. Every moment, as far as it is permitted to created beings, they absorb the power of divine virtue. Every moment, eternity makes them feel the accumulated weight of its intoxications, its delights, and its glories. Deus totus simul delectat, Deus erit memoriae plenitudo aeternitatis.

(God delights all at the same time, God will be the fulness of eternity's memory.)

—from The End of the Present World and the Mysteries of the Future Life by Fr. Charles Arminjon

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