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THE ENTRANCE OF THE SOUL INTO HEAVEN

THE ENTRANCE OF THE SOUL INTO HEAVEN

WHAT JOY!

What joy when the soul, freed from the bonds of the flesh, rises triumphant above the clouds, and, passing the starry barrier, presents itself at the gate of heaven!

What joy to cross for the first time the sacred threshold of the heavenly home! The angels and saints going forth to meet the soul, pressing around it, offering it glad congratulations.

What joy to recognise in this happy company so many friends and dear relatives, our glorious patrons, our holy protectors, and, above all, Jesus and Mary!

– Laverty & Sons (eds), 1905

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THE IMPORTANCE OF REFRAINING FROM COMPLAINING

“I have read,” writes L. Veuillot, “that once there ascended to heaven a little unknown soul, which was permitted to enter immediately, without having undergone any fatigue, or shed a tear, or suffered a misfortune, or even done anything extraordinary.

A murmur of astonishment passed through the assembly of the saints

“God assigned to it a very glorious place, and a murmur of astonishment passed through the assembly of the saints.

“All looked towards the Guardian Angel who had borne up the little soul. The angel bowed down before God, and obtained His permission to speak to the heavenly court, and from his lips, with a voice more gentle than the beating of a butterfly’s wings, he uttered these words, which all heaven heard:

“‘This soul has always taken uncomplainingly its share of sunshine, of darkness, and of toil, and has never knowingly harboured anything in which there was an offence against God.'”

– From: Golden Grains, M. H. Gill and Son, Dublin 1889

 
 

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O WHAT THEIR JOY AND THEIR GLORY MUST BE (HYMN)

O what their joy and their glory must be,

Those endless Sabbaths the bless-ed ones see!

Crown for the valiant; to weary ones rest;

God shall be all, and in all ever blest.

 

What are the Monarch, his court, and his throne?

What are the peace and the joy that they own?

Tell us, ye blest ones, that in it have share,

If what ye feel ye can fully declare.

 

Truly Jerusalem name we that shore,

‘Vision of peace,’ that brings joy evermore!

Wish and fulfilment can severed be ne’er,

Nor the thing prayed for come short of the prayer.

 

We, where no trouble distraction can bring,

Safely the anthems of Sion shall sing;

While for thy grace, Lord, their voices of praise

Thy bless-ed people shall evermore raise.

 

There dawns no Sabbath, no Sabbath is o’er,

Those Sabbath-keepers have one and no more;

One and unending is that triumph-song

Which to the Angels and us shall belong.

 

Now, in the meanwhile, with hearts raised on high,

We for that country must yearn and must sigh,

Seeking Jerusalem, dear native land,

Through our long exile on Babylon’s strand.

 

Low before him with our praises we fall,

Of whom, and in whom, and through whom are all;

Of whom, the Father; and through whom, the Son;

In whom, the Spirit, with these ever One.

Amen.

– O quanta qualia sunt illa Sabbata,

P. Abelard, 1079-1142. Tr. J. M. Neale

 

 

 
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Posted by on August 21, 2015 in Inspirational Hymns

 

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WHAT, ACTUALLY, IS THE SOUL? A SORT OF COLOURLESS BUBBLE?

What is the soul?

“Something inside you that should be clean and you make it dirty and God makes it clean again…? We outgrew that [limited] way of understanding it a little after our First Communion. But what is it now at the age of twenty or fifty or eighty? It loses its colour, for one thing – I mean black and white equally. And so it becomes a sort of colourless bubble (of uncertain whereabouts), till one day it goes ‘pop’ or, more likely, it gets a slow puncture and dies that way?

Of uncertain whereabouts?

In all good sense what is it? Or is it an ‘it’ at all? Many a thing that we refer to as ‘it’ is not an ‘it’ at all: for instance when we say ‘it is raining’. That ‘it’ does not refer to any ‘thing’. Likewise the word ‘soul’ does not refer to a thing. What does it refer to?

What does it refer to?

If you switch on the radio and listen to a foreign language (a really foreign one in which you cannot guess the meaning of even one word) you have the experience of hearing everything and yet nothing. You have to admit that you are hearing every sound: there is nothing wrong with your hearing, and speakers on radio are usually careful to speak clearly; yet it all counts for nothing. The person who understands that language hears the same sounds as you do, but those sounds are suffused with meaning. You touched the body of that language; the other person touched body and soul. In some such way the soul suffuses the body; it is the meaning of the body. It is not a ‘thing’ lurking inside it. It is its meaning, its radiance. It is its life – and how could the life of something be separate from the thing itself? In a word, your soul is the difference between you and your dead body.

When your soul ‘departs’ at death, it is not as if one part of you has left the other remains behind. You have disappeared completely; what is left behind is not you, nor part of you. We know this by instinct.

We know this by instinct

In a remote part of Ireland a simple man died. A neighbour, feeling as awkward as the family itself at being focus of attention, said to the priest at one point, ‘Excuse me, Father; the corpse’s brother would like a word with you.’ Why do we find this a very odd expression? Because we know that corpses don’t have brothers. Corpses don’t have anything.

A body without a soul

What is most striking about the appearance of a dead body is the total absence of involvement with us at every level. Our attentions, our tears, our feelings of desolation are unable to bring the person back. We tiptoe around the room as if he or she were only sick; we can’t believe just yet in the total absence; that is something we have to grow into gradually. The departure of a soul is the departure of the whole person.

Where? Is there any forwarding address?

Where? Where is that person now? Is there any forwarding address? The only forwarding address of a dead person is God; we cannot reach that person any more, except in God; we cannot touch them without touching God. As prayer is ‘addressing oneself to God,’ so now is God the dead person’s only address. Death is the realisation of God’s promise to be ‘all in all’.

‘All in all’

Along with the idea of the soul as a ‘thing’ we have the idea of heaven, hell and purgatory as ‘places’, and so the mystery of human destiny begins to look like sorting things in boxes.

In the way we sometimes talk about the next life, what is missing is any vital reference to God. (What’s left when you leave God out?) We know nothing about heaven except that ‘it’ is the presence of God; nor about hell than that it is God’s absence; nor about purgatory than that it is a process of purification for allowing God to be all in all. We find, I believe, that any improvement in the idea we have of the soul is also an improvement in the idea we have of heaven, hell and purgatory – and of God.”

– This article by Donagh O Shea OP was published in St Martin Magazine, issue July 2014. For subscriptions please visit http://www.stmartin.ie (external link).

 
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Posted by on August 13, 2015 in Words of Wisdom

 

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“I COUNT ON NOT BEING IDLE IN HEAVEN”

“St Therese’s activity on behalf of the Missions has not ended with her death. Her letters to her Brother Missionaries throb with the expectancy of how far more effective she will be on their behalf in Heaven.

If I am leaving the battlefield it is not with the selfish desire of taking my repose

‘I count on not being idle in Heaven, for it is my wish to continue to work for the Church, and for souls. I ask this grace from God and I am certain He will grant it. So you see, if I am leaving the battlefield it is not with the selfish desire of taking my repose.

I will teach you how best to sail the world’s tempestuous sea – with the self-surrender of a child

‘When I myself have reached the port I will teach you how best to sail the world’s tempestuous sea – with the self-surrender of a child well aware of its father’s love and of his vigilance in the hours of danger.

Brother, I am so happy to die – because, far more than on earth, I shall help the souls I hold dear. O what joy when comes the happy hour of going Home! I shall not die – I do but enter into life and whatsoever I cannot tell you here upon earth I will make you understand from the heights of Heaven.’

What attracts me to the Homeland of Heaven is the call of Jesus

But more fully still she writes: ‘What attracts me to the Homeland of Heaven is the call of Jesus, the hope that I may at last love Him as I have so longed to love Him, and the thought that I shall bring a multitude of souls to love Him, who will bless Him for all eternity. Brother, you will not have time to send me the list of things I can do for you in Heaven, but I guess them; and in any case you will have but to whisper them and I shall hear you and faithfully bear your messages to Our Lord, to our Immaculate Mother, to the Angels and the Saints you love.’

Till the Angel shall have said: ‘Time is no more.’

Her work for the Missions still continues, and there is every evidence that it will continue, as she prophesied it would, until the end of time.

‘I feel that my mission is about to begin – to make others love God as I love Him – to teach souls my Little Way. I will spend my Heaven in doing good on earth. This is not impossible, for the Angels keep watch over us while they enjoy the Beatific Vision. No, there can be no rest for me till the end of the world – till the Angel shall have said: ‘Time is no more.’ Then shall I take my rest, then shall I be able to rejoice because the number of the elect will be complete.’

These striking words were spoken during her last illness, 17 July 1897, less than three months before she died. Sure of the unfailing support of our Saint, whom Our Lord through His Church has specially given us as our Patroness in these difficult times, the Church in the Mission Field can look forward with quiet confidence to the days that lie ahead.”

– From “The Little Way Association” booklet, Issue No 94 – Little Way Association, London. Internet contact: http://www.littlewayassociation.com (external link)

 

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“GOD IS A GOOD GOD, HE WILL NOT LET ME LOSE HEAVEN FOR THIS SIN I AM COMMITTING”

No love, no heaven

“Early in childhood we learned that God is all-powerful. He can do anything. Later we came to understand that, although God can do anything, He cannot do a no-thing. For example, He cannot make a square circle. The words ‘square’ and ‘circle’ are contradictory words. They cancel each other out. A square circle is not a something; it is a nothing, and God does not do nothings.

This is a truth to be remembered if and when we may be tempted to commit a grave sin. No one who is in his right mind and who believes in heaven and hell, would want to jeopardise his eternal happiness for the sake of a present and very temporary pleasure or gain. Unfortunately, however, many persons have a mistaken and sentimental understanding of God. They may not put it into words, but in the act of sinning their unconscious reasoning is, ‘God is a good God. He will not let me lose heaven for this thing which I am doing.’

Sin is a denial to God of our love

What such persons fail to understand is that heaven, which is the possession of God in a union of love, and sin, which is a denial to God of our love, are contradictory concepts. They cancel each other out. Without love for God we are as incapable of possessing God in heaven as a man without eyes is incapable of seeing the colour of flowers.

But why cannot God make us love Him?

But why cannot God make us love Him? Why cannot He put love into us if we are lacking in love? Here again we encounter the same difficulty: a contradiction in terms. Love for another person cannot be forced upon us. If love is not freely given, it is not love at all. ‘Forced’ and ‘love’ cancel each other out. A forced love is not a something, it is a nothing.

God gives us a margin of freedom

Fortunately for us, God does His best, with countless graces, to instill and preserve in us a love for Himself. He wants our love. He wants to have us with Himself in heaven. Indeed, without His help, we would be incapable of making an act of love for Him. But, however powerful the graces He may give us, there remains to us a margin of freedom. We must make the choice. We must want to love Him, with a love expressed by our acceptance of His will. ‘What God wants, I want’; this, and not any sentimental imitation, is the real act of love. Our opportunity for making this act of love, this surrender of self to God, ends at death.

When a photographer is developing his films, there comes a point where he plunges the film into a chemical bath called a fixer. The fixer immediately stops the process of development. From that moment on, the film remains permanently unchanged. Whatever the contrasts of light and shadow, they are irrevocably set.

This earthly life is our time of development

For us, this life is the time of development. This is the period during which we generate in ourselves a love for God and, it is to be hoped, grow in that love. Death is the fixer. The moment that death intervenes, the direction of our will is permanently set – toward God or away from God, love or no love. Whichever it is, it will be that way forever.

Sin is the opposite of love

Once we possess God in heaven and are possessed by Him, we no longer can refuse Him our love. He is so infinitely lovable that, seeing Him, it would be impossible not to love Him. But, to achieve this happy destiny we must here and now kindle and nourish the feeble spark of love which, when it bursts into full flame in heaven, will all but tear us apart with ecstasy.

It would be a tragedy of the most horrible kind if a person were to choose self over God (which is sin) in the expectation that God, being good, would somehow set things right. God is infinitely good and all-powerful as well; but He cannot do a no-thing. He cannot equate heaven, which is love, with sin, which is love’s opposite.”

– Fr Leo J. Trese, “One Step Enough”, 1966

 

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“FOR PITY’S SAKE,” THEY CRY, “DO NOT MENTION HIS NAME!”

AND YOU, WHERE WILL YOU BE?

“Go into a graveyard; consider all these skeletons, and above all, hear the words which each one addresses to you: ‘See what has happened to me, and learn what shall happen to you.’
Again, give heed to your surroundings; those family portraits, these walls, these rooms, these garments, these beds, all these things which you have inherited, have power to awaken thoughts of your own death, by recalling that of your parents and kindred.

How can you doubt that you have to die? On a certain day you were inscribed on the [register of births]; another day will come, a day already fixed upon by God, when you shall be inscribed on the register of deaths. Today you say, in speaking of your dead relatives: ‘my late father’, ‘my late uncle’, ‘my late brother’; soon those who survive will be speaking in the same way of you. In the past you have often heard [the death of others announced; some day your death will be announced in the same manner – and you shall be in eternity.]

THE GREAT OBLIVION

A man has just died, and the news spreads, ‘He was a man of honour’, says one; another adds: ‘what a loss! He was so amiable, so good!’ Some regret him because he pleased them and was of service to them; others rejoice at his death, because they reap certain advantages from it. At the most, there will soon be no more talk of it; after to-morrow he will begin to sink into oblivion. His nearest relatives will avoid awakening the remembrance of him, for fear of renewing their grief. During the visits of condolence the conversation turns on everything except him who is the occasion of them! And if, per chance, someone is about to introduce him into the conversation: ‘For pity’s sake,’ they cry, ‘do not mention his name!’

No doubt, your family will weep for you at first. But soon the pleasure of dividing your property will banish these tears and grievings; and the very apartment where you have breathed your last sigh, and heard your Final Sentence from the lips of Jesus Christ, will be the scene of family reunions and parties of pleasure. And your soul, where will it be?”
– Laverty & Sons (eds), 1905

 

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