It is impossible for us creatures to envision by our own powers the bliss that awaits us in heaven. Only the Divine Persons can reveal to us the mystery of Their love and the heavenly delight that will be ours in sharing Their love in heaven. For divine help in contemplating the mystery of the Trinity’s ecstasy, the saints have begged, first of all, for the grace and anointing of the Holy Spirit. They have also turned to Scripture, inspired by the Holy Spirit, especially the Gospel of John, the beloved disciple who rested on the heart of the Lord at the Last Supper (see John 13:23). In this Gospel, Jesus calls us His beloved friends: “I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father” (John 15:15).3 To John, the apostle and friend so intimately loved by Jesus (John 21:20), the Lord confided secrets of the Divine Persons’ intimate love for one another, and thus of our heavenly joy in being received into Their embrace.
The saints have meditated on John’s Gospel as it speaks of the infinite love among the three Divine Persons of the Trin-ity, the love in which we will share for all eternity. St. John Chrysostom comments that, rather than hearing simple tales from the “uneducated fisherman,” John, we hear, instead, the most sublime, “heavenly things.” The Evangelist writes as if he has been in heaven, and when we read his words, we feel as if we are in heaven.4 John is the Gospel writer who tells us that, from all eternity, the beloved Son dwells in the tender depths of His Father’s “bosom” (see John 1:18). There, with indescribable love, the Father eternally gives Himself to His Son: “The Father loves the Son and has placed all things in his hands” (John 3:35); “All that the Father has is Mine. . . . The Father and I are one” (John 16:15; 10:30). Wondrous mystery of love! From all eternity, the Father, fountain of all self-giving, gives all that He is, His divine nature, to His only-begotten, beloved Son, His equal. And the Son, eternally receiving all that He is from His Father, forever gives Himself completely to His Father in return.
“No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him” (Matt. 11:27). “I am in the Father” (John 14:11). With exquisite insight, St. John of the Cross tells us that this is the intimate mystery of love in which we will share forever in heaven. Whether we realize it or not, our own deepest desire is to live in the tender embrace of the Father, where the Son eternally has His home. This, our hearts’ longing, is fulfilled in heaven beyond all that we could imagine. Dwelling in Jesus, we will find our ecstasy in being infinitely cherished by the Father in His “bosom,” where the Son eternally dwells.
In this way, we will dwell also in the Holy Spirit, who is the “sweet Embrace” of the Father and the Son. Meditating on the third Divine Person, who is the Spirit of the Father (see Matt. 10:20; John 15:26) and the Spirit of the Son (see Gal. 4:6), St. Augustine contemplates the wondrous identity of the Holy Spirit as the Father’s and the Son’s living Bond of Love.7 Saints have been struck with wonder before this sweet mystery of the Holy Spirit, who, as the Father’s and Son’s inexpressible enjoyment and bliss is also Their intoxicating perfume and exquisite delight. The Father’s and the Son’s wondrous embrace is the Holy Spirit, whose very name is joy. As the living love and delight of the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit, Their “sweetness,”8 eternally receives as Their equal all that He is from the Father and from the Son.
St. Bernard & The Holy Spirit
St. Bernard tells us that the Holy Spirit, the eternal bond of love between the Father and the Son, is also Their intimate “kiss,” the highest kiss beyond all words. The love with which the Father eternally “embraces” His Son, and with which the Son eternally returns His Father’s embrace, is Their tender Holy Spirit, Their “sweetest and most mysterious ‘kiss.’ ” By eternally pouring into His Son all the mysteries of His divinity, the Father eternally “kisses” Him and “breathes the sweetness of love” in an eternal embrace of His beloved Son.
This is the mystery that will enthrall us forever in heaven. Every dearest love story on earth, every experience of true and devoted love that we have been blessed to enjoy, is only a shadow and foretaste of this unfathomable love of the Divine Persons for one another. Every love that is good and beautiful has its source in this mystery of Trinitarian communion, in the infinite, self-giving love of the Divine Persons for one another. “O eternal Trinity,” St. Catherine of Siena cries out, “you are a deep sea. The more I enter you, the more I discover, and the more I discover, the more I seek you. . . . My soul long[s] . . . to see you.”
The psalmist sings, “Let your face shine, that we may be saved” (Ps. 80:3). St. Thomas Aquinas tells us that when we see someone “face-to-face,” our vision reaches to the very depths of what we see and fills us with joy-filled love. “We will see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2). In heaven, we will gaze forever on the love and glory of the Trinity in a vision that will never exhaust the Trinity’s magnificence but will forever satisfy our deepest longings.
“You shall see, and your heart shall rejoice!” (Isa. 66:14). The very heart of heaven is this Beatific Vision of the Trinity.13 Love brings us to this vision, and love is its perfection. The fulfillment of our every desire is the supreme delight caused not by our physical sight, which can never behold what is infinite, but by an intellectual “seeing.” By means of the Trinity’s own divine essence, we will behold the Divine Persons’ love and beauty with our intellects, in a vision that will fill us forever with ecstatic love.14 This is the very purpose for which the Divine Persons have created us: that we may share intimately in this rapturous mystery of Their self-giving love for one another.
Art for this post on Heaven’s Splendor: Cover used with permission; Featured image used with permission of Pixabay.
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