Monday, November 16, 2009

Pax Sinica: 天堂 Heaven

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天堂

在「煉靈月」的今天,我們懷着喜樂的希望,探討「萬民四末」中的「天堂」。

天堂是天主、天神和諸聖的「居所」。在天堂最大的喜樂,莫如永遠能看到天主、擁有天主。還是小孩的聖女大德蘭,常想到天堂,也跟她的兄弟經常談論天堂的永恒。

完滿和真正的喜樂

我們都渴望快樂;可是,生活中的快感並不等於快樂:片刻快感過後,仍留空虛與忐忑。但真正的快樂讓我們感到平安。其實,我們所渴求的,是恆久而完滿的喜樂,無限的真、善、美 —— 那只有天主才能充實我們心靈的空虛 —— 因為只有永恆的天主才是完滿真、善、美的樂。聖奧斯定感嘆道:「我主,祢因祢而創造了我們,所以,我們的心只能在祢內,才得安寧的憩息。」

世間不能擁有完滿的喜樂:有時我們不快樂,皆源於心慾未得所償;即使心慾已償,卻因日久生厭而感枯燥。在天堂又截然不同:靈魂歷久渴求天主,每每都滿足於天主,且永不生厭或枯燥。在天堂,天主傾注完滿的喜樂予靈魂,我們不需另覓他尋。

不錯,只有在天堂才得完滿的喜樂,但我們在塵世通過愛天主、因愛天主而愛人如己,仍可享有真正的喜樂。「愛的誡命」是我們在世真正喜樂之源,亦是尋找天堂完滿喜樂之途。

痛苦並非哀愁

我們天主教教徒,是常抱有希望的人;面對痛苦,仍應喜悅和滿懷希望。年青真福法薩特(Pier Giorgio Frassati 1901-1925)寫道:「天主教教徒的靈性,總要喜樂,擯除哀愁。痛苦並非哀愁; 哀愁是靈性最大的疾病。這疾病是因為「無神論」而導致的。我們向着受造的目標在世途邁進: 雖遍佈荊棘,卻非植長哀愁,痛苦中仍保持喜樂。」

在世上, 痛苦愈大, 希望也該愈大。小的希望巳足夠支持我們面對小的苦楚,但面對更大的痛苦,我們則不得不祈求更大的望德,確保靈魂不倒。很多精修和殉道聖人,雖身處疾苦或酷刑,仍保喜悅,因為他們懷有得永生的大希望。換句話說,天堂永福的希望,常是我們面對世間暫苦的力量。望德的實踐在於祈禱: 在苦痛中,讓我們向基督學習吧:「祂在極度恐慌中,祈禱越發懇切」 (路加福音22:44)。

準備天堂

生命是旅途,天堂是終點,我們是應該每天步向天堂,每天為進入天堂作準備。一本要理書籍列舉準備進入天堂的方法:

一、心裡常常想着天堂、靈魂殷切渴望天堂。

二、渡潔德的生活。

三、勤修各種德行,以制私慾。

四、按天主創造聖意善用世物,非建私愉於其上。

五、以忍耐面對苦痛的試探。

六、在最小事情上都要對天主忠信。

七、對天主忠信至生命的終結。

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HEAVEN

We continue to explore the Last Things during this month of All Souls. This time, with joyful hope, we look at the doctrine of Heaven.

Heaven is the abode of God, the angels, and the saints. The greatest joy in Heaven is to see and to possess God for all eternity. St. Teresa of Avila, when she was a young girl, would think about heaven and repeated with her brother again and again: forever and ever and ever....

True and Perfect Happiness

We all yearn for happiness. Life experiences teach us that pleasure is not the same thing as happiness. A person can still experience emptiness and uneasiness after enjoying momentary pleasure, but a person who enjoys true happiness, also experiences lasting peace. We yearn for happiness that is perfect and eternal. We yearn for the Infinite: infinite goodness, infinite truth, and infinite beauty. The void of our hearts is so great that only God can fill it. St. Augustine said, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rest in You.”

Here on earth, we do not posses perfect happiness: Sometimes, we desire things, but we do not obtain them, and we are sad. Other times, we obtain what we desired, but after a while we get tired of them, and we are bored. But in Heaven, a soul always desires, and on the other hand, it is always satisfied. A soul in Heaven desires God and never get bore; it is fulfilled by God and never get sad. We can find perfect happiness only in Heaven.

Even though we can experience perfect happiness only in Heaven, we can still experience true happiness on earth in the degree that we love God and love our neighbor for His sake. The Great Commandment of Love is the key to true happiness on earth and the path to perfect happiness in Heaven. The saints are the happiest people on earth.

Suffering vs. Sadness

We, Catholics, are people of hope. We might experience sufferings, but we should always be hopeful and joyful. Shortly before his death, Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati (1901-1925) wrote: "A Catholic cannot help but be happy; sadness should be banished from their souls. Suffering is not sadness, which is the worst disease. This disease is almost always caused by atheism, but the end for which we are created guides us along life's pathway, which may be strewn with thorns, but is not sad. It is happy even through suffering."

Here on earth, the greater the suffering, the greater hope we need to help us through. If we have a small suffering, a small hope is sufficient. But if we experience great suffering, we need great hope to sustain us. Many saints and martyrs were joyful in the midst of their great sufferings before of the great hope of eternal life. In the midst of sufferings, the hope of Heaven should be our strength. Hope is exercised in prayers. In sufferings, we should remember the example of Christ: “And being in an agony He prayed more earnestly.” (Luke 22:44)

Prepare for Heaven

Life is a journey and our destination is Heaven. We must prepare for Heaven daily. A Catechism book listed the following ways for us to prepare for Heaven:

  1. Often think of it, and desire it with all the ardor of our soul.

  2. Live in purity

  3. Subdue our passions by the courageous practice of all virtues

  4. Not place our happiness in creatures, but make use of them only according to the designs of God.

  5. Suffer all trials with patience.

  6. Be faithful in even the smallest things.

  7. Be faithful until death.

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