Providence Takes Care Of Everything
Reading this post on Father Z’s blog, I thought I would give my personal, imperfect, and possibly, wrong, but deeply felt perspective on the matter of those who will not be with us when (if) we get to Heaven.
I am getting fairly old. As such, very many of the generation before me, and everybody of the generation before them, have died. As I get older, the memory of old relatives and their friends become, in some way, more vivid. It’s difficult to explain it but yes, it is true what they say in Italy, that as it gets more difficult to remember what you had for breakfast, it gets easier to remember episodes many decades away.
It is, therefore, unavoidable to think that, realistically, if I make it to Heaven one day I will not find a number of people I have loved down here.
From an earthly point of view, this is something that can never be repaired, that can never be made whole. How can one be happy knowing that people he loved all his life are suffering, and will suffer for all eternity?
My answer to that is very simple and reverts around 1) the kind of happiness those in Heaven enjoy and 2) the way God organises things. Before I start, mind that I am not a theologian. As the man said, si sbalio mi corigerete.
Whilst on this earth, we are only able to think of happiness in a natural way. There is, in other words, only so much happiness we can imagine. Where the, so to speak, computing ability of our little brain stops, there ends our conception of happiness. This is, as I understand, the happiness of the souls in Limbo; who are, as it is commonly said, “happy as can be”, because they have natural happiness.
However, the happiness of the Saints it’s not a natural happiness, but a supernatural one. It is a kind of happiness that simply surpasses everything our little brains can even imagine, a happiness that is infinitely vaster than anything our our minds can even fathom.
I have read that the state of ecstasy has been described as a happiness without wishes; a state, that is, of such complete joy that nothing, absolutely nothing, could be desired by a person in such a state. The person who is experiencing a state of ecstasy is unable to harbour even the slightest desire, because his cup is already so full that there is no possibility of even another drop of happiness.
This state, my friends, is, unless I am mistaken, still a state of natural happiness, because the brain can experience it. Granted, there is a Divine “kick” that is, in fact, nothing more than the faintest hint at the immeasurable joy the saints experience in Paradise; but it is, still, something that our little “head computer” can still work with.
If, therefore, already on this earth, and be it in exceptional circumstances, a person can experience a happiness that is so absolute, so (humanly) perfect that it harbours no desire at all, how much more complete, how infinitely vaster will the joy of those in heaven be? And how can they, then, be “sad” (as in: in mental pain, suffering) for anything?
The other way I look at it is from a different angle. God loves us more than we can imagine. He orders all things so that they can be used for our profit, in one way or the other. But he “never disturbs the joy of his children, unless it is in order to prepare for them a more certain and bigger one”.
Providence works in everything God does, it is the in-built, Divine modus operandi. This does not apply solely to our little lives on earth, but to all of Creation, including heaven and hell. Why would Providence fail to operate in our little human events, but then make us eternally sad as we “miss” some of our loved ones? No. For a soul in heaven, Providence must be all-encompassing, and seen with a keenness and a depth that we could never have here on earth. As we are nearer to God, we will think more like him and understand more of Him. As we understand more of Him, we will immediately love His every judgment. We will see the Goodness (that is: the Mercy and the Justice) of everything God does, and this will be our supernatural fulfillment.
Providence means that everything is, and always will be, exactly as it has to be. Mind, I do not think that this means a kind of stupefied state, as if one were on drugs and unable to see the suffering of others. Of course, we will be aware of the suffering of those in hell, and we will be acutely conscious of all that they are missing. But there will be no sadness in this, as there can be no sadness where there is perfect, indescribable, supernatural joy. It will be, I think, the same as if you saw, whilst in a state as of ecstasy, but infinitely more powerful than that, the execution of Saddam Hussein. Yep, it’s not pleasant for him. Yep, you still know that if he had behaved differently, he would have ended differently. But in the end, this does not disturb your joy as you know, in an extremely intimate way, that everything is exactly the way it should be.
Whenever I exert my little brain with that kind of considerations – which, between you and me, happens more and more often as the years advance – I always end up with the same conclusion: that, ultimately, and when all is said and done, there is only one thing I have to achieve. If I achieve it, my life will have been an infinite success, vastly superior to all that Jeff Bezos or John D Rockefeller have achieved on earth. If I fail to achieve it, I will have been a total failure, no matter if, in life, I was another JP Morgan or John D Rockefeller.
That one thing I need to achieve is Salvation. If I do that, everything else will take care of itself.