Thursday, November 5, 2009

Living in the Kingdom of God Even Now

The below passage is a beautiful meditation on how heaven, for the faithful Christian, is not simply a matter of some future time, but is available by God's grace, in part even now. This is a sample of St. Anselm's particular wisdom, and the depth of his continuous conversation with God -- something we all may enter into through prayer, service, and humility.

Those who have the grace to reign in the kingdom of heaven will see the realization of everything that they desire in heaven and on earth, and nothing that they do not want will be realized in heaven or on earth. The love which will unite God with those who will live there, and the latter among themselves, will be such that all will love one another as themselves, and all will love god more than themselves.

Hence, no one will have any other desire there than what God wills, and the desire of one will be the desire of all; and the desire of all and of each one will also be the desire of God. All together, and as one single person, will be one sole ruler with God, for all will desire one single thing and their desire will be realized. This is the good that, from the heights of heaven, God declares he will put on sale.

If some one asks at what price, here is the response: The one who offers a kingdom in heaven has no need of earthly money. No one can give God what already belongs to him, since everything that exists is his. Yet God does not give such a great thing unless once attaches value to it; he does not give it to one who does not appreciate it. Hence, although God has no need of your goods, he will not give you such a great thing as long as you disdain to love it: he requires only love, but without it nothing obliges him to give. Love, then, and you will receive the Kingdom. Love, and you will possess it.

And since to reign in heaven is nothing other than to adhere to God and all the saints, through love, in a single will, to the point that all together exercise only one power, love God more than yourself and you will already begin to have what you wish to possess perfectly in heaven. Put yourself at peace with God and with others – if the latter do not separate themselves from God – and you will already begin to reign with God and all the saints. For to the extent that you now conform to the will of God and to that of the others, God and all the saints will concur with your will. Hence, if you want to rule in heaven, love God and others as you should, and you will merit to be what you desire.

However, you will not be able to possess it to perfection unless you empty your heart of every other love. This is why those who fill their hearts with love for God and their neighbor have no other will than that of God – or that of another, provided it is not contrary to God. That is why they are faithful in praying as well as in carrying on a dialogue in their minds with heaven; for it is pleasing to them to desire God and to speak of someone whom they love, to hear that once spoken about, and to think of the beloved. It is also why they rejoice with those who are joyful, weep with those who are in pain, have compassion on the suffering, and give to the poor; for they love others as themselves

- St. Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury in his Letter 112 to Hugh the Recluse [1109]; from Readings for the Daily Office from the Early Church, J. Robert Wright (emphasis mine).

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