What is heaven really like? The great St. Don Bosco was given a wonderful glimpse of heaven. Below, Don Bosco shares his vision in his own words:
As you know, dreams come in one’s sleep. So during the night hours of December 6 (1876) while I was in my room - whether reading or pacing back and forth or resting in bed, I am not sure ---- I began dreaming….
It suddenly seemed to me that I was standing on a small mound or hillock…all was blue as the calmest sea, though what I saw was not water…..
Broad imposing avenues divided the plain into grand gardens of indescribable beauty….
As I stood there basking in the splendor of those gardens, I suddenly heard music most sweet---so delightful and enchanting a melody that I could never adequately describe it…
One could tell from the expressions of those happy faces that the singers not only took the deepest pleasure in singing but also received vast joy in listening to the others… and this was their song: “Salvation, honor and glory to Almighty God and Father….the Creator who was, who is and who will come to judge the living and the dead forever and ever.”
As I listened enthralled by the heavenly choir I saw an endless multitude of boys approaching me. Many I recognized as having been at the Oratory and in our other schools, but by far the majority of them were total strangers to me. Their endless ranks drew closer, headed by Dominic Savio, who was followed immediately by…many other clerics and priests, each leading a group of boys.
I kept asking myself: Am I sleeping or am I awake? I clapped my hands and felt myself to make sure that I was seeing reality. Once that host of boys got some eight or ten paces from me, they halted… Dominic Savio stepped forward a step or two, standing so close to me, that had I stretched out my hand, I would surely have touched him….a crown of roses encircled his head. His hair fell down in waves to his shoulders, giving him such a handsome and lovely charm that he seemed…..he seemed…an angel!
With no idea where I was, besides myself and shaking with awe, I dared not take a step forward. The others remained silent. At last Dominic Savio spoke. “Why do you stand there silent, as though you were almost devitalized?…. Where is your courage? Say something!”
Summoning my courage, I replied, “I am shaking because I don’t know where I am.”
“You are in the abode of happiness”, Savio answered, “where one experiences every joy, every delight.”
“Is this the reward of the just?”
“Not at all! Here we do not enjoy supernatural happiness, but only a natural one, though greatly magnified.”
“Everything here then is natural?”
“Yes, only enhanced by God’s power.”
“Oh,” I exclaimed. “ I thought this was Paradise.”
“Oh no,no!” Savio answered. “No human eye can look upon the beauty of Paradise.”
“And this music,” I asked, “Is it the music which you enjoy in heaven?”
“No, no absolutely not!”
“Are these then natural sounds?”
“Yes, of course, but brought to perfection by God’s infinite power.”
“And this light which outshines the very sun’s brilliance-----is it a supernatural light? Is it heavenly light?”
“It is only natural light, fortified and perfect by God’s omnipotence.”
“Might I be allowed to see a little supernatural light?”
“No one can see it until he has come to see God as He is. The faintest ray of that light would instantly strike one dead, because the human senses are not sturdy enough to endure it.”
“Could there possibly be a natural light lovelier than this?”
“Yes, but if you could only see a single ray of natural light increased by just one degree, you would go into an ecstasy.”
“Might I not see at least one tiny ray of this brighter light?”
“Yes, of course you may. I’ll give you a proof of what I say. Open your eyes.”
“They are open,” I answered.
“Pay close attention, then, and look out toward the farthest end of that crystal sea.”
I looked. Instantly from the remotest heavens, a sudden streak of light flashed through space, fine as a thread, but so brilliant, so piercing that my gaze faltered in pain. I shut my eyes and screamed loud enough to wake Fr. Lemoyne who was sleeping in the next room. In the morning, he asked me in fright what had happened to me during the night to have so upset me,. The filament of light was a hundred million times brighter than the sun, its brilliance could have lit up our entire universe.
After some minutes, I opened my eyes again. “What was that?” I asked Dominic. “Was not that a heavenly beam?”
“It was not a supernatural light,” Dominic replied, “though ever so much superior in brilliance than the light of the world. It was nothing more than earthly light rendered ever so dazzling by God’s power. Even if a vast array of light as strong as the ray you saw at the end of that crystal sea were to cover the whole world, it would still not give you an idea of the splendor of Paradise.”
“Then what do you enjoy in Paradise?”
“Ah, that defies all telling. The happiness of heaven no mortal beings can ever know until they die and are reunited with their maker. We enjoy God ---- nothing else!”