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The New Jerusalem

Cornelius a Lapide

Today the onslaught of Progressivism against Heaven as a place is reaching its apex with the implicit denial of it by Benedict XVI in his book Jesus of Nazareth. In view of this assault, TIA decided to offer our readers documents that confirm this dogma as always taught by Holy Mother Church and professed by Catholics in the Creed: that Heaven exists and is a place where the souls of Catholics go to contemplate God for all eternity, when they have merited it in this life. In this material place, Our Lord Jesus Christ and Our Lady abide in body and soul, and the blessed will also enjoy its material marvels after the resurrection of their bodies. We start with comments of Fr. Cornelius a Lapide on Heaven.
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“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth. For the first heaven and the first earth was passed away, and the sea is now no more. And I, John, saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Apocalypse 21: 1-2).

… The sea will be another new sea, as will be the sky and the earth. When the sea will be renewed, along with the sky and earth, it will become subtle, pure, translucent, tranquil, and serene, so refulgent that it will appear not as a sea, but as a crystal in its shining brilliance and splendor.

The new Jerusalem should be understood in two ways: First, as the Church herself, that is, the ensemble of the blessed. … Thus she is properly called spouse in verse 9, uxor Christi [spouse of Christ].

Second, the new Jerusalem is understood as the actual city and place of the blessed, i.e., the empyreal heaven, since it is in the first place both the city and tabernacle of God. … St. John speaks here of these two cities, interchanging them, at times speaking of one, at times of the other. …

It is said here figuratively that the celestial Jerusalem descends from heaven to take up the elect. It represents, therefore, the empyreal heaven and the Church, i.e., the ensemble of the blessed, which comes down to take up the elect - principally those who with such great effort and agony will fight against the Antichrist and the tyrants - to receive them as citizens of heaven. …

So that Christians are not tempted to say: “How can I, an earthly and carnal man, ascend to the celestial Jerusalem?” St John depicts it here as coming down to men in order to receive them and take them up. …

Therefore, this Jerusalem is and remains in heaven. Nonetheless, it comes down to earth through its communication with it. It happens as with the sun, which is at the same time in the sky and on earth: It is in the sky by its substance; it is on earth through the rays it sends to it. It is like a spring that is simultaneously at its highest source and in its lowest point: It is at its greatest height at its source at the top of the mountain; it is at its lowest point through the river that comes from the mountain and flows through the valleys. This is how the heavenly Jerusalem is described here.

It is prepared as a bride adorned for her husband

It is adorned, filled with all the glory, beauty, happiness and majesty appropriate to one espoused by the celestial Lamb. It is adorned like the spouse of a King who dresses herself in her most beautiful and precious garments, adorns herself with precious stones and other ornaments, preparing herself to be brought before her King and spouse. …

Note that this refers to both Jerusalems of which I spoke, that is, on one hand, it refers to the Church and the blessed ones; on the other hand, it refers to the empyreal heaven [as a place].


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Summarized and translated by the TIA desk from Cornelius a Lapide,
Commentaria in Scripturam Sacram, Paris: Ludovicum Vides, 1876, vol. 21, chap. 21
Posted October 8, 2011

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