Sunday, 5 November 2006

Piercing the Veil

"Oh that there were such an heart in us, to put aside this visible world, to desire to look at it as a mere screen between us and God, and to think of Him who has entered in beyond the veil, and who is watching us, trying us, yes, and blessing, and influencing, and encouraging us towards good, day by day! Yet, alas, how do we suffer the mere varying circumstances of every day to sway us! How difficult it is to remain firm and in one mind under the seductions or terrors of the world! We feel variously according to the place, time, and people we are with. We are serious on Sunday, and we sin deliberately on Monday. We rise in the morning with remorse at our offences and resolutions of amendment, yet before night we have
transgressed again. The mere change of society puts us into a new frame of mind; nor do we sufficiently understand this great weakness of ours, or seek for strength where alone it can be found, in the unchangeable God. What will be our thoughts in that day, when at length this outward world drops away altogether, and we find ourselves where we ever have been, in His presence, with Christ standing at His right hand!"

(From the sermon: The Immortality of the Soul, Parochial and Plain Sermons, Vol.1 - John Henry Newman)

I tend to forget that the Life to Come is not merely a great and glorious extension or magnification of this one here, stripped of its limitations, but a complete mutation ... just as Christ was resurrected not to mere Galilean provincial life but to a Life that embraces all that is, and is yet beyond all; So too the Life to Come is inconceivably different. Our ignorance is often most clear when we speak about eternity. We imagine it to be an infinite extension of time, a ceaselessly elongated line. What we do not understand is that in Eternity there is not merely a unidirectional linear infinity, but a bidirectional multidimensional infinity: Time progresses infinitely into past & future (horizontally), but also into multiple simultaneity (vertically), and I suspect also into a myriad of dimensions.

Unfortunately this dazzles my mind so that I forget that even on a purely metaphysical or existential level our mortal frames are not capable of living in such a reality. Could it be that the veil of which mystics talk of so often is there for our protection? And that there is a metaphysical reality behind the saying of the Lord: Unless ye be born again, ye cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven.? In this regard it may be said without exaggeration that we live simply in order to die, and that we must spend our allotted time preparing for death. I think here of Ladislaus Boros' hypothesis of the final decision, that in death we posit our first truly personal and limitless act, and that our lives, our daily lives as they are lived by us, shape that final decision. Make us know the shortness of our life, that we may gain wisdom of heart.

This is something to be reminded of when sin is so tangible and near. I am preparing to behold the One As He Is. That requires of me some preparation. No faculty must be spared the pilgrimage. Onwards!

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