St. Francis de Sales, in his Seventh Meditation (1.15) found in his Introduction to the Devout Life, directs our hearts to think deeply upon paradise. This reflection should be done in the morning (plan on 20–30 minutes). Some practical comments have been added to the text in italics. Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales (1.16)
- PLACE yourself in the Presence of God. Imagine that you are in a room with Christ.
- Invoke His Aid. While you are in the room with Christ, ask Him to speak to you and help you in your prayer.
- Represent to yourself a lovely calm night, when the heavens are bright with innumerable stars: add to the beauty of such a night the utmost beauty of a glorious summer’s day,—the sun’s brightness not hindering the clear shining of moon or stars, and then be sure that it all falls immeasurably short of the glory of Paradise. O bright and blessed country, O sweet and precious place! Imagine the scene described above. See yourself walking in the night, gazing at the stars. The temperature is perfectly warm, and there is a glorious stillness. Then think of how all of this is nothing to the splendor of Paradise!
- Consider the beauty and perfection of the countless inhabitants of that blessed country;—the millions and millions of angels, Cherubim and Seraphim; the glorious company of Apostles, martyrs, confessors, virgins, and saints. O blessed company, any one single member of which surpasses all the glory of this world, what will it be to behold them all, to sing with them the sweet Song of the Lamb? They rejoice with a perpetual joy, they share a bliss unspeakable, and unchangeable delights.
- Consider how they enjoy the Presence of God, Who fills them with the richness of His Vision, which is a perfect ocean of delight; the joy of being for ever united to their Head. They are like happy birds, hovering and singing for ever within the atmosphere of divinity, which fills them with inconceivable pleasures. There each one vies without jealousy in singing the praises of the Creator. “Blessed art Thou for ever, O Dear and Precious Lord and Redeemer, Who dost so freely give us of Thine Own Glory,” they cry; and He in His turn pours out His ceaseless Blessing on His Saints. “Blessed are ye,—Mine own for ever, who have served Me faithfully, and with a good courage.” Ponder the beauty of the song of the saints! Think of the most beautiful piece of music you have ever heard. It could be a beautiful hymn, a movement from a symphony, or any other beautiful music. The music of the saints, their song, is more real and beautiful than the song you imagined. It brings joy and pleasure to all who hear and sing it. Reflect upon the song of the birds and how they are compelled to share their voice in the morning. They fly and sing beautifully enjoying the freedom of song and movement. Similarly the saints eternally praise God!
Affections and Resolutions.
- Admire and rejoice in the Heavenly Country; the glorious and blessed New Jerusalem a reference to the heavenly city, the home of God and His saints.
- Reprove the coldness of your own heart for having hitherto so little sought after that glorious abode. PRAY ALOUD: “Why have I so long lingered indifferent to the eternal happiness set before me? Woe is me that, for the sake of poor savourless earthly things, I have so often forgotten those heavenly delights. How could I neglect such real treasures for mere vain and contemptible earthly matters?”
- Aspire earnestly after that blessed abode. PRAY ALOUD: “Forasmuch, O Dear Lord, as Thou hast been pleased to turn my feet into Thy ways, never will I again look back. Go forth, my soul, towards thy promised rest, journey unweariedly to that hoped-for land; wherefore shouldest thou tarry in Egypt?”
- Resolve to give up such and such things, which hinder you on the way, and to do such others as will help you thitherwards.
- Give thanks.
- Offer yourself.