True Heaven vs. Banal Naturalism / Humanism

Once again, Garrigou-Lagrange wants to lift up the reader’s mind to the heights of heaven. Truly to contemplate, in however non-detailed a manner, how awesome is that to which we are called.

We all know, however, that sometimes when we imagine heaven, we get bored pretty quick. That tells more about us and our limited imagination than about the boredom to come. We know we shall not be bored, but we cannot picture it.

Hilarious: My son once asked, “Will we pass gas in heaven?” I responded, “No.” He retorted, “That’s ridiculous.” I think he was eight at the time. But he’s right in a way. When we try to get to details, we fall off the mark. On the other hand, if we just live for today, with no thought of tomorrow, we cannot map our priorities in the best way. Then, we will get unduly upset about things that should cause us less pain than otherwise.

How to keep the vision high? I’m not so sure. But that we must keep it high is crucial.
One ingredient Lagrange insists on is differentiating the true essence of the holy vision from false sentiments of “happiness to come.”

He writes,

“What a world separates the true idea of heaven from heaven as conceived by naturalism, by pantheism, a heaven which would be married to hell beyond good and bad, a heaven where without renouncing anything men would find supreme beatitude. This is the heaven defended by the secret doctrines of the counter-Church which begins with the Gnostics of old and continues in present-day occult doctrines that produce universal confusion. In the second part of Faust, Goethe is inspired by naturalism, so distant from Christian faith,” (Life Everlasting, p. 172, n. 20).

When we ask too little of souls, we belittle their worth and their calling. When we act as though heaven did not require repentance, we insult the very sinner himself. When we preach mercy without adequate articulation of the rigors of divine justice and the power – the truly healing power – of divine graces, we deprive souls of the reason to hope for great things. We make a marxist heaven, a down to earth ending, we make our exalted religion crass, we tread over delicate things, we make what is sacred into something … something, not simply profane but… —banal! And no one believes the banal. The banal is worthy of the rubbish heap.

But, when we demand excellence; when we exhort to sanctity, when we uphold the full extent of the moral law, when we cling to Tradition, when we sing the Wonder ever ancient and ever new, then, truly, do we raise a realistic hope: Arduous, to be sure, but firm and lasting and awesome.

2 thoughts on “True Heaven vs. Banal Naturalism / Humanism

    1. He doesn’t treat it thematically in a focussed way. However, a subtitle of the book is “Immensity of Soul.” He means this in two ways. First, contra ‘animalism’ (if you will), he points out the intellectual / transcendent nature of intellect and will, how these go beyond anything merely ‘brain-like’. If contemporaries reduce reason to science alone (as Benedict XVI pointed out in his marvelous ‘Regensburg’ lecture), GL goes against this ‘scientism’. Second, contra ‘naturalism,’ he keeps coming back to the high calling we have in Christ and the power of grace. He vindicates God’s justice against objectors who think that hell is unjust, etc. A theologian who goes after naturalists and modernists is Joseph Cardinal Siri. More on him in time to come.

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