On behalf of myself, Fr. Behling and the entire parish staff, a blessed and joyful Easter to all of you! We celebrate today the great victory of God over sin and death and through the suffering, death and resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the hope of eternal life dawns. For those who are faithful to Christ, who walk in His ways and do what pleases Him and avoid what displeases Him, for those who give themselves entirely to Him, then death no longer has power over us, because of His strength and His grace, an eternal paradise awaits. It was this that Christ’s death opened the door to. As we meditate on the great Paschal Mystery and celebrate Christ’s victory over the grave, we turn our thoughts to heaven – that great reward He promises those who come after Him, bearing their own cross with the help of His grace, so that they may die with Him and then, also live with Him. Here are a few words from St. Alphonsus Liguori reflecting on heaven:
“Oh, happy are we if we suffer with patience on earth the troubles of this present life! Distress of circumstances, fears, bodily infirmities, persecutions, and crosses of every kind, will one day all come to an end; and if we be saved they will all become for us subjects of joy and glory in paradise. Your sorrow (says the Savior, to encourage us) shall be turned into joy. So great are the delights of paradise, that they can neither be explained nor understood by us mortals: Eye hath not seen (says the Apostle), nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for those who love Him. Beauties like the beauties of paradise, eye hath never seen; harmonies like unto the harmonies of paradise, ear hath never heard; nor hath ever human heart gained the comprehension of the joys which God hath prepared for those that love him. Beautiful is the sight of a landscape adorned with hills, plains, woods, and views of the sea. Beautiful is the sight of a garden abounding with fruit, flowers, and foundations. Oh, how much more beautiful is paradise!
To understand how great the joys of paradise are, it is enough to know that in that blessed realm resides a God omnipotent, whose care is to render happy his beloved souls. There shalt thou not find anything displeasing to thyself, and everything thou dost desire thou shalt find. In paradise there is no night; no seasons of winter and summer; but one perpetual day of unvaried serenity, and one perpetual spring of unvaried delight. No more persecutions, no jealousies are there; for there do all in sincerity love one another, and each rejoices in each other’s good, as if it were his own. No more bodily infirmities, no pains are there, for the body is no longer subject to suffering; no poverty is there, for everyone is rich to the full, not having anything more to desire; no more fears are there, for the soul being confirmed in grace can sin no more, nor lose that supreme good which it possesses.
There the sight is satisfied in beholding that city so beautiful and it citizens all clothed in royal apparel, for they are all kings of that everlasting kingdom. There shall we see the beauty of Mary, whose appearance will be more beautiful than that of all the angels and saints together. We shall see the beauty of Jesus, which will immeasurably surpass the beauty of Mary. The smell will be satisfied with the perfumes of paradise. The hearing will be satisfied with the harmonies of heaven and the canticles of the blessed, who will all with ravishing sweetness sing the divine praises for all eternity.
Ah, my God, I deserve not paradise, but hell; yet Thy death gives me a hope of obtaining it. I desire and ask paradise of Thee, not so much in order to enjoy, as in order to love Thee everlastingly, secure that it will never more be possible for me to lose Thee. O Mary, my Mother, O Star of the Sea, it is for thee, by thy prayers, to conduct me to paradise.”