If we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.
“The Weight of Glory” in The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses, Harper Collins, 1976, 26.
No one can enter heaven except as a child; and nothing is so obvious in the child – not in a conceited child, but in a good child – as it’s great and undisguised pleasure in being praised…
Apparently what I had mistaken for humility had, all these years, prevented me from understanding what is in fact the humblest, the most childlike, the most creaturely of pleasures—namely, the specific pleasure of the inferior: the pleasure of the beast before men, a child before its father, the pupil before his teacher, a creature before its Creator…
“The Weight of Glory” in The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses, Harper Collins, 1976, 36-7.
God did not die for man because of some value he perceived in him. The value of each human soul considered simply in itself, out of relation to God, is zero. As St. Paul writes, to have died for valuable man would have been not divine but merely heroic; but God died for sinners. He loved us not because we were lovable, but because He is love.
“Membership” in The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses, Harper Collins, 1976, 170.
At present, if we are reborn in Christ, the spirit in us lives directly on god; but the mind and, still more, the body receives life from him at a thousand removes—through our ancestors, through our food, through the elements. The faint, far-off results of those energies which God’s creative rapture implanted in matter when he made the worlds are what we now call physical pleasures; and even and thus filtered, they had too much for our present management. What would it be to taste at the fountainhead that stream of which even these lower reaches prove so intoxicating? Yet that, I believe, is what lies before us. The whole man is to drink joy from the fountain of joy.
“The Weight of Glory” in The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses, Harper Collins, 1976, 44.
If we are made for heaven, the desire for our proper place will be already in us, but not yet attached to the true object, and will even appear as the rival of that object…
In speaking of this desire for our own far-off country, which we find in ourselves even now, I feel a certain shyness. I’m almost committing an indecency. I am trying to rip open the inconsolable secret in each one of you – the secret which hurts so much that you take your revenge on it by calling it names like Nostalgia and Romanticism and Adolescence…
Our commonest expedient is to call it beauty and behave as if that settled the matter. Wordsworth’s expedient was to identify it with certain moments in his own past. But all this is a cheat. If Wordsworth had gone back to those moments in the past, he would not have found the thing itself, but only the reminder of it; what he remembered would turn out to be itself be remembering. The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing.
These things – the beauty, the memory of our own past – are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself, they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshipers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune and we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited. Do you think I am trying to weave a spell? Perhaps I am; but remember your fairy tales. Spells are used for breaking enchantments as well as for inducing them. And you and I have need of the strongest spell that can be found to wake us from the evil enchantment of worldliness which has been laid upon us.
“The Weight of Glory” in The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses, Harper Collins, 1976, 29-31.
It may be asked what practical use there is in the speculations which I have been indulging. I can think of at least one such use. It may be possible for each to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbor. The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbour’s glory should be laid upon my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken.
It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in nightmares. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics.
There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals that we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind which exists between people who have, from the outset, taking each other seriously…
Your Christian neighbor (is) holy in almost the same way, for in him… the glorifier and the glorified, Glory Himself is truly hidden.
“The Weight of Glory” in The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses, Harper Collins, 1976, 45-6.