Thursday, February 12, 2009

Intimations of Happiness

Thoughts on prophecies, contemplative and active life and the vision of God - the ultimate goal of human life.

The life of faith that leads to happiness is not an easy one. One of its darkest difficulties is the fact that it is a life based on faith. The vision of God - man's final destiny 0 is not on display in the window of our large department stores. You cannot find it enthroned in the main room of our museums. A man cannot see it in this life; he must believe in it, hope for it, work for it in the darkness of this present life.
But God is good and wise. He knows that these who toil in the dark depths of the mine of life must glimpse an occasional pinpoint of light to strengthen their faith in the existence of the sun. In His great generosity God gives man intimations of His own existence and power and love. In this way He confirms man's faith, strengthens his hope and increases his love for Himself. God gives these intimations to man in the gifts of prophecy, speech and miracles.

Through prophecy God reveals to man things that are knowlable only to God Himself. It is by prophecy that man has come to know the deep secrets of the divine life, such as the mystery of the Trinity. More importantly, from the point of view of man himself and his need for certainty, the prophets of God have been able to foretell the future, especially the free future acts of God and men. The mysteries of the divine life are so profound that men might not accept them from a prophet; but the accurate forecasting of free future acts is a clear sign of the divinity. It is an intellectual miracle confirming the truth of the divine revelation given to men by God through prophets.
God can speak to His prophets in different ways, He may send them visible and audible sights and sounds in which His messages to men is contained; He may illumine the intellect of the prophet immediately, making him aware of the divine judgment he must manifest to men.
The prophet himself needs no previous preparation or disposition to be the recipient of a divine message. He may not even fully realise the meaning of what he himself sees or transmits to men; but in the hands of God he is a chosen vessel carrying the light of divine wisdom to men.
Occasionally the prophet is carried out of himself in rapture. His soul remains in his body, but it withdrawn from the turmoil of the life of the senses, and the prophets gazes for a moment on the face of Divinity Itself. Refreshed and inspired by this glimpse of God Himself, the prophet can speak with authority to men and import to them his own conviction of the truth and love of God.
As far as public revelations is concerned - that is the revelation which God has entrusted to His Church to be proposed to all men for belief - the age of prophecy ceased at the time and with the work of Christ and His Apostles. But God still sends private revelations to men as signs of His continuing love and care for us.

To be continued

The painting is Vermeer's "Christ in the house of Martha and Mary"