Monastic Lectionary of the Divine Office,
Karl Adam - The Spirit of Catholicism.
The Church Triumphant (eccles a triumphans).—Hosts of the redeemed are continually passing into heaven, whether directly, or mediately by the road of purification in the Suffering Church. They pass into the presence of the Lamb and of Him who sits upon the throne, in order face to face—and no longer in mere similitude and image—to contemplate the Trinity, in whose bosom are all possibilities and all realities, the unborn God from out of whose eternal wellspring of life all beings drink existence and strength, motion and beauty, truth and love. There is none there who has not been brought home by God's mercy alone. All are redeemed, from the highest seraph to the new- born child just sealed by the grace of baptism as it left the world. Delivered from all selfish limitations and raised above all earthly anxieties, they live, within that sphere of love which their life on earth has traced out for them, the great life of God. It is true life, no idle stagnation, but a continual activity of sense and mind and will. It is true that they can merit no longer, nor bear fruit now for the Kingdom of Heaven. For the Kingdom of Heaven is established and grace has finished its work. But the life of glory is richer far than the life of grace. The infinite spaces of the Being of God, in all Its width and depth, provide a source in which the soul seeks and finds the satisfaction of its most intimate yearnings. New possibilities continually reveal themselves, new vistas of truth, new springs of joy. Being incorporated in the most sacred Humanity of Jesus, the soul is joined in most mysterious intimacy to the Godhead Itself. It hears the heartbeats of God and feels the deep life that pulsates within the Divinity. The soul is set and lives at the center of all being, whence the sources of all life flow, where the meaning of all existence shines forth in the Triune God, where all power and all beauty, all peace and all blessedness, are become pure actuality and purest present, are made an eternal now.
This life of the saints, in its superabundant and inexhaustible fruitfulness, is at the same time a life of the rich est variety and fullness. The one Spirit of Jesus, their Head and Mediator, is manifested in His saints in all the rich variety of their individual lives, and according to the various measure in which every single soul, with its own special gifts and its own special call, has received and employed the grace of God. The one conception of the saintly man, of the servant of Christ, is embodied in an infinite variety of forms. The Litany of the Saints takes us rapidly through this "celestial hierarchy." Beginning at the throne of the most holy Trinity and passing thence to Mary, the Mother of God, and then through the hosts of the angelic choirs to the solitary penance of the great Precursor, St. John the Baptist, it leads us to St. Joseph, the foster-father of the Lord, the man of quiet dutifulness and simplicity of soul. Next to them tower the figures of the Patriarchs and Prophets, primitive and sometimes strange figures, but men of strong faith, of sacred constancy, of ardent desire. Sharply contrasted with them are the witnesses of the fulfillment, the apostles and disciples of the Lord: Peter, Paul, Andrew, James and the rest. And while every name denotes a special gift, a special character, a special life, yet all are united in one only love and in one gospel of joy and gladness. And around and about these outstanding figures what a harvest and rich crop of infinite color and in infinitely divese fields! All holy martyrs—All holy bishops and confessors—All holy doctors—All holy priests and levites—All holy monks and hermits—All holy virgins and widows—All saints of God. It is that "great multitude which no man can number, of all nations, and tribes, and peoples, and tongues: standing before the throne and in sight of the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands" (Apoc.vii, 9).