The Crucifixion - by the MASTER of the Virgo inter Virgines - from Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence
|In this Depiction of the Crucifixion, Christ's Body hangs Dead, on the Cross-of-Salvation. Christ will Suffer no-more. His Heart has been Pierced-by a Lance, and Sheds Water-and-Blood, which are Symbolic-of the Birth of Christ's One-and-Only Catholic Church. General Spectators have departed the Scene, leaving only God's Holy Mother, her Sister, Saint John and the hysterical Saint-Mary-Magdalene. On the Cross remains the Body-and-Divinity of Jesus Christ, which will in-turn, 'Spend' Three (3) days in the Tomb, to be 'Eternally-United' after Three (3) Days, with the Soul-and-Divinity of Christ, on Easter Morning. To the Right of the Cross, Joseph-of-Arimathea and Nicodemus, Disciples of Jesus, Request Pilate's Permission to Remove and Bury the Dead Body-of-Jesus. It is Recorded in Scripture, that the Great Love of Saint-Mary-Magdalene for Jesus Christ, resulted in her being the First Recorded Person to-see Him, after His Resurrection on Easter Morning. There is no doubt, however, that His Blessed Mother was Actually the First, although not Officially Recorded in Scripture|
Jesus Christ Died in-Battle, for us
Greater Love than this, no Man hath,
Maiorem hac dilectionem nemo habet
Some People make Perfection, Consist-in an Austere Life;
|Nota Bene: Bible Verses quoted-in this Book are from the English Douay-Rheims Translation, commissioned-by the Catholic Church.|
Hope 'Increases' Charity, and Charity 'Increases' Hope, because Hope-in God's Goodness, undoubtedly 'Helps' us 'Grow' in Love-for Jesus Christ. Saint Thomas says that at the Precise Moment that we 'Hope'-to Receive something from a Person, we also begin to Love that Person. And this is why the Lord 'Forbids' us to Place our Complete Trust, in-Creatures; the more we Trust-in God, the more we shall Grow-in His Holy Love.
How Quickly we Grow-in Holiness, when our Hearts are Filled-with Confidence-in God. We 'Soar', rather than 'Run'; for in making God the Basis-of all our Hope, we 'Put-aside' our own Weakness, and 'Borrow' the Strength-of God Himself, which He 'Shares' with all those who 'Trust-in' Him.
Like the Eagle that 'Flies' nearest the Sun, those who 'Trust-in' God, gradually become Detached-from the Earth, and more-and-more United (1) to-God, by Love.
Just as Hope 'Increases' the Love-of-God, so Love 'Increases' Hope, because Charity makes us Adopted Children of God. By Nature, we are Creatures-of God; but by Grace, we become Children-of God, through the Merits-of Jesus Christ. And if Charity 'Makes' us Children-of God, it also 'Makes' us Heirs-of Heaven. Heirs are Entitled-to the Father's Estate; Charity then, 'Increases' our Hope of Heaven, so that those who Love God 'Sing' without-Ceasing: "Thy Kingdom come, Thy Kingdom come".
God Loves those, who Love Him. He 'Bestows' His Graces upon those who 'Desire' His Love. Those who have the Greatest Love for God, have Absolute Confidence in His Goodness. This Confidence 'Creates' the Serene Composure of the Saints, which 'Helps' them 'Remain' Joyful and Peaceful, even in the midst-of the most Severe Trials. Their Love-for Jesus Christ, and their Faith-in His Generosity, to those who Love Him:
Mainspring of Hope
The Mainspring-of Christian Hope, is God, Whom we will Experience-in the Kingdom-of-Heaven. But we must not 'Assume' that the Hope of 'Possessing' God in Heaven, is any Obstacle-to Charity, since the Hope-of Heaven, cannot be Divorced-from Charity, from which it 'Receives' its Full-and-Complete Perfection.
Saint Thomas says that Friendship is Based-on the Mutual Communication-of-Possessions. And since Friendship is simply Mutual Love, it follows that there must be an 'Exchange'-of the Good, which Each Possesses. So the Saint says: "If there is no Communication, there is no Friendship". This is why Jesus Christ said-to His Disciples: "I have called you Friends: because all things, whatsoever I have heard of My Father, I have made Known to you" - John 15:15. He 'Made them His Friends; therefore He 'Communicated' all His Secrets, to them.
Saint Thomas also 'Teaches us' that Charity does not-Exclude a Desire-for the Reward, Prepared-for us by Almighty God in Heaven. On the Contrary, it Helps us 'Realize' that the Mainspring-of our Love is God, Who is the Joy-of-Heaven; for Friendship, as we Know, 'Implies' that Friends, 'Rejoice'-with One Another.
Souls in-Heaven, 'Belong' completely-to God, and God 'Belongs' completely-to them (According-to their Individual 'Capacity' and Merit). Such Souls, 'Realizing' their own Nothingness, 'Receive' Greater Pleasure in-giving themselves to-Him, than having God give Himself completely, to them. They are Overjoyed, when God gives Himself to them, because they are 'Inspired' to-Surrender themselves to-God with Greater Intensity. They 'Rejoice' at the Glory that God 'Grants' them, but for the Sole Purpose-of 'Referring' it back-to God Himself. They want to do their Utmost, to 'Increase' His Glory.
Meaning of Hope
Saint Thomas 'Defines' Christian Hope as a "Sure expectation-of Eternal Happiness". Its certainty Stems-from the Infallible Promise of-God, to-give Eternal (∞) Life to His Faithful Servants. Charity, by 'Removing' Sin, 'Removes' all Obstacles to our Possession-of Perfect Happiness. The Greater our Love, therefore, the Greater our Hope of Heaven. Those who Love Jesus Christ Intensely, cannot help but 'Desire' and Hope, as-long-as they Remain-on Earth, to be United (1) with their Lord in Heaven.
Thus we see that the 'Desire' to see God in Heaven , not for the Consolation-of 'Experiencing' Him, but for the Pleasure we can 'Give' God, by Loving Him, is Pure and Perfect Love. To 'Desire' Heaven, therefore, is to 'Desire' God, Who is our Final-End.
We should Love Jesus Christ as-much-as possible, here on Earth. We should constantly 'Desire' to be with Him in Heaven, so that we may Love Him Perfectly. We must 'Focus' all our Hope, on Loving Him, with all our Strength.
This, then, must be the Object-of all our 'Desires', all our 'Thoughts', and all our 'Hopes': to go to God so that we may Love Him with all our Strength, and Rejoice-in Him, Forever (∞). The Saints certainly Rejoice-in their own Happiness, in Heaven; but the Real Source of their Joy, is the Knowledge-that their Beloved Lord 'Possesses' Perfect Happiness. This is possible because, they Love God much more-than they Love themselves.
The Moment that Souls enter Heaven, and see the Infinite (∞) Beauty of God, Face-to-face in the Light of Glory, they are Consumed-with Love. Enraptured Souls are then Immersed-in the Boundless Ocean of the Goodness-of God. They Desire to 'Possess' Him entirely, and they do, in fact, 'Possess' Him. They no-longer have to Worry about Losing Him. They 'Desire' only to 'Give' themselves completely-to Him. Every Moment they 'Offer' themselves to God without Reserve, and God 'Receives' them in His Loving Embrace. He 'Holds' them, and shall always 'Hold' them in the same Fond Embrace, for all Eternity (∞).
In this Way, Loving Souls are completely United (1) to God in Heaven. Their Love becomes 'Perfect' and 'Complete'; and, although it is necessarily Finite - since a Creature is Incapable-of Infinite (∞) Love - it makes them Perfectly Happy, and they can Desire nothing-more. Almighty God, on the other hand, Communicates Himself completely-to the Individual Souls, Filling them entirely-with Himself, in-proportion-to their Merits.
This Union (1) is much more Vital, than the one that Exists between God and Souls, here on Earth; it is what we call a Union-of-Essences. Just as Fire 'Penetrates' Iron, and seems to 'Change' it into itself, so God 'Penetrates' Souls, and Fills them with Himself. They never Lose their own Being, yet they become so 'Penetrated' with the Ocean-of the Divine Substance, that they seem to-Cease to-Exist. Saint Paul asked that this Gift might be Given-to his Disciples, when he Prayed that they might "be Filled unto all the Fullness of God" - Ephesians 3:19.
This is the Goal which the Goodness-of-God, has Destined-for us in- Heaven. This is why we can never be completely at-Rest on-Earth. Only in Heaven, can we 'Attain' Perfect Union with God. It is True that those who Love Jesus Christ, find Peace-in the Practice-of Perfect Conformity-to the Will-of-God, but they cannot find Perfect Peace in this Life. We will Possess that, only when our Final Goal is 'Reached', when we see God Face-to-face, and are 'Consumed' with His Divine Love.
"O my God, make me a Saint"
- End of Saint Alphonsus Liguori Chapter XII on "Love Hopeth All Things" -
Audio Clip on the