Read CHAPTER X of The Happiness of Heaven By a Father of the Society of Jesus , free online book, by F. J. Boudreaux, on ReadCentral.com.

Pleasures of the glorified senses.

The life of heaven is also one of pleasure through the glorified senses. These pleasures, as well as those of the Beatific Vision, are certainly beyond our comprehension. Still, we may form some idea of them by reflecting on the exquisite delights which reach our soul through our senses, in our present state of imperfection. They are so fascinating that the world runs wild with their intoxication. What, then, must they be in heaven, where everything is perfect? For, in that world of God’s magnificence, both the senses and their respective objects exist in their highest perfection, which is far from being the case here below.

Now, give free scope to your imagination. Let it roam among the blessed, and flutter from creature to creature. Build up all you can of pure pleasure, and you will never reach any more than the dimmest and faintest shadow of the reality. Gaze upon the glorious body of Jesus Christ, the most perfect and lovely that ever came from the hand of God. It is the very sun that gives beauty to the whole of heaven. Then contemplate the transcendent beauty of the Immaculate Mother, who, next to Jesus, is clothed with the greatest glory. Feed your eyes upon that countless multitude of saints. They are all beautiful, because they have all risen with a body glorified after the likeness of Christ’s glorious body. Each one has a beauty and perfection of his own, according to his merits; and the very lowest is clothed with a loveliness far superior to anything ever seen in this world.

If there is a rush to see beautiful objects, grand and sublime sights, magnificent scenery, and the works of art, on account of the intense pleasure enjoyed through the sense of sight, what shall we say of the exquisite pleasures in store for that sense in heaven! Then again reflect how very captivating, soothing, and enlivening music is. The ear revels in it, and pours into the soul torrents of harmony, which make her, for the time, altogether forget the outer world. So captivating is it, that hours pass by unheeded, and she would almost fancy it is the echoes of angels’ voices she hears. What, then, must heavenly harmony be, if our imperfect music is so delightful? Think, also, how exquisitely the odors of flowers, incense, and all manner of perfumery produce a soothing effect upon man, banishing cares, and infusing a new life into him. What must those pleasures be in heaven?

We have already seen that, in heaven, there is to be neither eating nor drinking, as we now understand these two actions. But this does not mean that the sense of taste is not to be gratified. It most certainly will be, though not by corruptible objects, as in this world. The same must be said of the sense of touch or feeling, which is diffused over the whole body.

The five senses of the human body are not mere accidental ornaments, which may or may not exist; they are essential to the integrity of its nature. Thus a blind or a deaf and dumb man is not a perfect man, because he lacks something which is essential to the integrity of his nature. Now, as glory does not destroy the nature of the body, but perfects it, it follows that all the blessed must rise with their five senses in their full perfection. And as their perfection consists in their activity and power of receiving impressions from external objects, and conveying them to the soul, it is evident that the senses must remain active in heaven, and have suitable objects to act upon. This is precisely what we learn from the angelic doctor, who maintains that the glory of the body does not destroy its nature, but perfects it, and even preserves the very color that is natural to it. He maintains, moreover, that every power or faculty is more perfect when acting upon its proper object, than it is when inactive; and, as human nature will reach its highest degree of perfection in heaven, it follows that every sense will there act according to its nature.+

Corporis gloria naturam non tollet, sed perficiet: unde color qui debetur corpori ex natura suarum partium, remanebit in eo, sed superaddetur gloria animae. S. Thom., Suppl., , art 1.

+ Potentia conjuncta actui suo perfectior est quam non conjuncta: sed humana natura erit in beatis in maxima perfectione: ergo erunt ibi omnes sensus in suo actu. Praeterea, vicinius se habent ad animam potentiae sensitivae, quam corpus: sed corpus praemiabitur vel punietur propter merita vel demerita animae: ergo et omnes sensus praemiabuntur in beatis, et punientur in malis, secundum delectationem et dolorem vel tristitiam, quae in operatione sensus consistunt. S. Thom., Suppl., q 82, art 4.

According to this doctrine, not one sense of the human body is either dead, inactive, or excluded from enjoyment, in heaven. And why should any one of them be excluded? Why should the sight, or the hearing, or even the sense of smell, be rewarded, rather than the taste, or the sense of touch? Certainly no valid reason can be given.

Theologians teach that in hell every sense of the human body shall have its own peculiar punishment; and that the sense of feeling, especially, shall be tortured; because, in most cases, it is principally in that sense that the reprobate have most offended God. Surely we must not imagine that God is more severe in punishing the wicked, than He is good and liberal in rewarding the just. Now, is it not precisely in the senses of taste and feeling that the saints have suffered most for God? Look at that countless multitude of martyrs. Many were starved to death; others were scourged until they died under the torture; others were torn by the wild beasts; others were crucified; others were burnt with a slow fire; while others were tortured for days together in every limb and sense, and that, too, with all the ingenuity and appliances that the most refined cruelty could devise.

Then again, look at that countless multitude of confessors, virgins, and others, who, in the practice of virtue, became their own executioners. They suffered inconceivably by frequent and long fastings, by coarseness of diet, by wearing hair-cloths, and by otherwise torturing their flesh. And now, shall these senses go unrewarded in the blessed, while they are so terribly punished in the reprobate? Certainly not. All that we can say is that, at present, we do not know how all this is to be realized; but as the whole man in all his senses has served God, and suffered for Him, it is but just that he should be rewarded in his whole being, which includes every sense of the body, as well as every faculty of the soul.

Hence, in our meditations on heaven, we must let the pleasures of the glorified senses enter as an integral element of man’s happiness. We must contemplate these pleasures as seriously as we do the pain of sense in the reprobate, only avoiding the introduction of anything gross or carnal, and, therefore, repugnant to a state of incorruption. Hence we must, as already shown, avoid introducing eating, drinking, sleep, or anything else which, by its very nature, belongs to the animal life of man.

We must also banish from our ideas of heaven all the carnal pleasures of this world, as they are now understood. Our blessed Lord himself told the Jews, who believed such pleasures to exist in heaven: “You err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God. For, in the resurrection, they shall neither marry nor be married; but shall be as the angels of God in heaven." All such pleasures, which were intended only for this world of imperfection, will be replaced by others of a superior order, and suited to our spiritualized bodies.

Matt. xxii 29.

So, then, we see that the life of heaven is one of sensible pleasure through the glorified senses, as well as one of exquisite mental and moral enjoyment in the Beatific Vision. These sensible pleasures have, moreover, a peculiar characteristic, which the pleasures of sense have not in our present state of imperfection. In heaven the blessed can enjoy them all without fear; for none of them are forbidden, and, consequently, they can never be followed by bitter remorse or shame. Neither have they, as in this world, a tendency to darken the mind, and turn the heart away from God. They will rather intensify our love for Him, who is the Author of our exceeding blessedness, whether it comes immediately from himself or partly from the beautiful creatures He has prepared to complete the happiness of His beloved children.