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Do You Know How Delightful Is the

Ecstasy of Union with the Divine?

You know that feeling you get when you read something that puts into words your own interior experience of life? That joy of “Oh, thank you, I’m not the only one who feels this, and you expressed it so well”? I had that a few weeks ago reading a reflection from Saint Bonaventure:

“As for you, chosen servant of Christ, … prompt your heart and your soul; lift up your whole mind and consider as intently as you can: If good things are so pleasant even when enjoyed singly, imagine how delightful beyond delight that Good must be which contains the delightfulness of all goods. If life created is so precious, imagine how enrapturing must be Life All-creating! If salvation is our best end as an acquired state, how transporting must be Salvation Itself, the Author of all deliverance! …What will a man have who possesses that Good, and what will he not have? Assuredly, he will have everything that satisfies him and nothing that displeases. Eye has not seen nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man what bodily and spiritual goods he will enjoy in heaven. Why, then, servant of God, do you wander so far, seeking delights for your body and mind? Love one single Good in which all goods are found, and that will suffice; desire simple Good, which is all good, and that will be enough….

The more we love God here, the more we shall enjoy God there. Therefore, love God much in this life, and you shall enjoy him much in the next; let the love of God increase in you now, so that you may have then the fullness of his joy. This is the truth to be pondered in your mind, proclaimed by your tongue, loved in your heart, expressed by your lips; your soul should hunger, your body thirst, your whole substance crave for nothing but this until you enter the joy of your God, until you are clasped in your Lover’s arms, until you are led into the chamber of your beloved Spouse who, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”

This is my life’s mission: to help others see how all the good things in this life, all the pleasures and delights of being alive, are but little signs, little glimmers, little icons of the Infinite Good and Delight that await us in the next life. We only get in trouble with the pleasures of this world when we expect them to be our ultimate fulfillment. When we do that, we’re turning the icon into an idol.

It’s a scary thing to realize that God honors our desires. If in the end we cling to something less than God as our satisfaction, then that is what we shall have. The question here is not whether we desire “heaven,” but what we desire as “heaven,” as the fulfillment of our longing. We all desire some kind of heaven, some kind of lasting fulfillment. Nothing can change that about us. But in the end, if we’re not aiming our ultimate desire at the Ultimate, we miss the mark. And when the mark is heaven, that’s something we really don’t want to miss.

Thank you, Lord, for all the pleasures of this world. May we come to see them rightly as so many glimmers, so many icons of your infinite goodness. And if we’re clinging to them as our ultimate fulfillment, teach us how to redirect our desire according to your design so we can reach our eternal destiny. Amen!

–Christopher West