The Glory of the Resurrection

The Wonder of Our Future Life

Christ’s Second Coming

God’s desire is that we praise him and give him glory for all eternity. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is an act of praise and thanksgiving where we are invited to become consciously aware of everything God has done for us, and how our participation in the Mass is a preparation for our eternal life with him. The desire to praise and thank God is a desire which he himself has placed in our hearts. If we cooperate with his desire, then our hearts will be transformed, little by little, to reflect the image we are meant to become. It is succinctly described in the preface for the weekday mass where our praise adds nothing to God’s greatness as he is in no need of it. However, paradoxically, we need to praise him in order to grow in his grace. It is well said in Preface IV for Masses on Weekdays:

You have no need of our praise, yet our desire to thank you is itself your gift. Our prayer of thanksgiving adds nothing to your greatness, but makes us grow in your grace.

Our interior sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, inspired by God’s grace in the depths of our soul, is communicated to his altar by our guardian angel in the speed of thought. This anticipates our glorified bodies’ passage from the new heaven to the new earth in our new life in eternity at the end of time, where we will be able to transport ourselves “in the twinkling of an eye to the ends of the firmament.”

It must be concluded that the temple of immensity will blossom forth in its totality, and in all its brilliance, before the ecstatic gaze of the elect, and that, without leaving Christ for a single moment, they will have the power to transport themselves, in the twinkling of an eye, to the ends of the firmament. They will be free to explore the heavenly bodies, reappear on this earth, and pass again over the places where they lived and prayed, places that were the scene of their labors and immolation. This view concurs with the texts of the Sacred Books, where they tell us that there are many mansions in our heavenly Father’s house, that the saints will shine like stars in perpetual eternities, and that, wherever the body—that is, the sacred humanity of Christ—shall be, there also will the eagles be gathered.1

Every time we make an act of love—whether it is in prayer, good works, or our suffering, united with Christ—they are communicated to our Father in heaven by our guardian angel. The particular mansion in our Father’s house which only we can occupy is being prepared for us personally as we walk with Christ towards our heavenly homeland. Our whole passage on earth now, will be experienced in a most glorious manner after the general resurrection, where, in our glorified bodies, we will be able to explore all the places where we offered up to God our acts of love. What an extraordinary future life our God has prepared for us, and where was it born? It was born on the cross by our Savior and, mysteriously, the glorious beauty and wonder of our future life was won for us through the conquering of the horrendous ugliness and evil of sin.

The Holiness of Our Savior
Jesus was full of grace and possessed, in his human soul, the full plenitude of grace communicated by the Holy Spirit. He possessed the fullness of the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the virtues. The sanctifying grace that adorned his soul over-flowed to the fullest with the moral virtues and the virtue of charity. Because of his divine nature, he did not possess the theological virtues of faith and hope, as he beheld the beatific vision in his blessed soul, as a consequence of his personal union with his Father in heaven. The sinless lamb, full of the virtues and gifts to a degree beyond what any human mind can fathom, did not develop in virtue throughout his life as he possessed the fullness of virtue from the moment of his conception. The depth of virtue and holiness of our Savior remained hidden for most of his life. It was only the evil of men in the escalation of the darkness of sin, that brought out into the open his heroic humility and greatness of soul. The virtues were already there, but it was mysteriously the powers of darkness which brought what was completely hidden into full view. This was his persecutors, men bound by the chains of the devil, inspired by the devil’s deceitful and murderous ways. We, too, are called to follow, in a hidden way, the life of virtue, where we are tested by our neighbor to gradually grow interiorly, through God’s grace, a garden of virtues within our soul. We will never reach the humility and greatness of soul of our Savior, but our desire and intention to love our neighbor as Christ loves us, fulfills his call to each one us: “… you must love one another just as I have loved you” (Jn13: 34). It is only Christ, abiding within us, that enables this to become a reality.

The Mystical Body of Christ
Jesus opened up heaven for each one of us through his sacrifice on the cross. His mystical body can also be opened up to us in our souls. This is where we begin to see each of neighbors as our brothers and sisters, and how we are all one human family making our way to his eternal kingdom. Just as heaven was closed before Christ’ sacrifice, so also can his mystical body be closed in our souls if we do not allow his grace to transform us from within.

Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Every good or bad action is performed in our bodies which is the instrument of either virtue or vice. As God is infinitely just, it is only right that the blessed in heaven should be rewarded with a glorified body. We do not see the ripple effect of our actions, and how all the good that we have done in prayer, word, or deed mysteriously helps our known and unknown brothers and sisters. Even more mysteriously we will see the full effects of our sufferings united with Christ, and how they have affected the growth of his mystical body. The seemingly irrelevant on the worldly level will become the hugely significant on a supernatural level. A kind word, a glance filled with compassion, a spontaneous prayer for our neighbor in need will be seen in full view, and how they have contributed to the glory of the elect. Divine love, or charity, is grace-filled love. With God’s grace as the source of all our charitable actions, prayers, and desires, these will become transparent in heaven. What is hidden and unnoticed will become visible and praised to the glory of our Savior.

Every action, whether good or evil, is done by means of the body. So it is just, my daughter, that my chosen ones should be rewarded with endless glory and good in their glorified bodies for the toil they endured for me in body, as well as in soul. And the wicked, likewise, will be eternally punished in their bodies, which were their instruments of evil.2

The Significance of Our Inward Appearance
In the world, we judge automatically by first appearances without being consciously aware of it. Our first impressions of people contribute to how we automatically judge them—what they are wearing, and how they speak. We can be charmed by some people, and flattered with the way they talk, in their ability to present themselves as outgoing, popular, and friendly. In our present times, the outward appearance of things—both people and the many material goods we have on offer—have taken on a greater significance. The “success” of the sexual and technological revolutions are largely shaped by the way they are portrayed in all the glittering images. The latest iPad, if it looks ugly, will not capture our imagination, and will most likely not be as successful in terms of its sales. The fashion industry extenuates the sexuality of the sexes, appealing to our senses and imagination. The outward appearance of all things in life has such a significant impact on our daily lives. It is an extraordinary paradox to consider, when we fast forward to the end of the world at the general resurrection, we will be judged on our inner appearance. Our interior lives, which remain hidden on a daily basis, will be laid to bear in the virtues or vices that clothe our bodies. Our secret intentions will be laid open for all to see, and will become visible on our bodies; either the luminous jewels of the elect, or the horrendous deformities of the damned. The general resurrection seems a million miles away from everyday life, as we walk through the shopping mall, and turn on the television to view the latest events in the world, amidst all the advertising that saturates our daily life. Beneath the superficial mask of modern life is a deeper reality that we can begin to see when we have our eyes opened by God’s grace.

Outward appearances can be so misleading and deceptive. The people that appear sincere and genuine are not always what they seem. The hypocritical state, that Jesus was so condemning of in the Gospels, is characterized by a complete discord between one’s inner and outer appearance. Their outward human glory will be transformed, if they remain unrepentant at their particular judgement, to inward horror and outward deformity at the general resurrection. The capability of some in being able to deceive and manipulate others is an ability inspired by the devil. While many will fool their human counterparts, there is no escape from the eyes of God, who sees and knows everything scrutinizing the secrets of the human heart.

For on their bodies will appear the mark of their evil deed, with pain and excruciating torment… They never turn back to admit their sins, or to ask for my mercy, so they come to the gate of falsehood because they follow the teaching of the devil, who is the father of lies. And this devil is their gateway through which they come to eternal damnation.3

The greatest tragedy of the human race is not to admit our sins before the merciful love of God, and receive his forgiveness. We can end our lives being marked eternally with the evil deeds we have committed, filled not with the love and goodness of God, as he wills for all of us, but with the excruciating pain and torment inflicted by the executioner of divine justice. What a contrast to those who have followed Christ, and ended their lives in his holy friendship. All the hidden virtues, labored for love of Christ and his Church, will shine luminously in their bodies.

They will see my generosity and mercy shine forth in the blessed as these receive the fruit of the blood of the Lamb. And they will see how all the sufferings the blessed endured remain as adornments on their bodies, like ornamentation imprinted on cloth—not from the body’s own excellence, but because the soul, from her fullness, will imprint on the body the fruit of its labors, to shine outwardly, since it was the partner in virtue. Just as a mirror reflects a person’s face, just so, the fruit of their labors will be reflected in their bodies.4

  1. The End of the Present World and the Mysteries of the Future Life, by Father Charles Arminjontranslated by Susan Conroy and Peter McEnerny. Sophia Institute Press, 2008, pp 123-124.
  2. The Dialogue: The Classics of Western Spirituality by Catherine of Siena. Translated by Suzanne Noffke, O.P. Paulist Press, New York, pg. 86.
  3. Ibid: pp. 86-87
  4. Ibid: p. 86.
Brent Withers About Brent Withers

Brent Withers is originally from New Zealand. He is now living in Farnborough, England, with his wife and three young children. He returned to the Catholic Church about ten years ago after being away for about twenty or so years. He has previously published essays with the Homiletic & Pastoral Review. Presently, he is employed as a commissioning manager for mental health services in an inner London City borough.