The Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma
- Book 5: God the Consumator
- Section 1: The Doctrine of the Last Things
- Chapter 1: The Eschatology of the Individual Human Being
- Essential Bliss of Heaven
- The souls of the just which in the moment of death are free from all guilt of sin
and punishment for sin, enter into Heaven. (De fide.)
- Heaven is a place and condition of perfect supernatural bliss, which consists
in the immediate vision of God and in the perfect love of God associated with it.
- Pope Benedict XII declared in the Dogmatic Constitution “Benedictus Deus”,
that the entirely pure souls enter Heaven, and behold the Divine Essence immediately and face to
face, by the Divine Essence offering Itself to them immediately, uncovered, clear and open, and
that by reason of this vision and of this happiness they are truly blessed and have eternal life
and eternal rest.
- Jesus vividly depicts the bliss of Heaven under the picture of a wedding feast
(Mt. 25:10; cf. Mt. 22:1 et seq.; Luke 14:15 et seq.) and calls it life or eternal life.
- The condition for the achieving of life everlasting is the knowledge of God
and of Christ:
- “Now this is eternal life: That they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus
Christ, whom Thou has sent” (John 17:3).
- He promises the vision of God to the pure of heart:
- “Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God” (Mt. 5:8).
- As a reward, the just receive eternal life and a glory,
which bears no relation to [excessively exceeds] the sufferings of this world. The immediate
vision of God takes the place of the imperfect knowledge of God in this world.
- Eternal life consists in the immediate vision of God.
- “We shall be like to him: because we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3:2)
- The Secret Revelation places the bliss of the blessed in the communion of
God and of the Lamb, that is, of the risen Christ. They are relieved from all physical evils.
(Rev. 7:9–17; 21:3–7.
- Scholasticism stresses the absolute supernatural nature of the vision of God,
which demands an altogether supernatural elevation of the intellect, the so-called lumen
gloriae, which makes glorified man capable of the act of the
Vision of God. (Ps. 35:10; Rev. 22:5)
- The acts which compose the heavenly blessedness are knowledge (visio),
love (amor, caritas) and joy (gaudium, fruitio).
- Accidental Blessedness of Heaven
- In addition to the essential bliss of Heaven which springs from the immediate
Vision of God, there is also an accidental blessedness, which proceeds from the natural knowledge
and love of created things. (Sent. communis.)
- An accidental bliss is achieved by the blessed in virtue of the community of
life with Christ in His Human Form, with the Mother of God, and with the Angels and Saints;
in virtue of their re-unification with families and former friends from their earthly life; in
virtue of their knowledge of God’s works. Further, the unification of the soul with the
transfigured body at the Resurrection means an accidental increase of the glory granted to the
Blessed in Heaven.
- According to the teaching of the Schoolmen, three classes of the blessed
receive, in addition to the essential bliss (aurea, sc. corona), a special reward for the
transcendental victory gained by them, called aureola: virgins for their victory over the
flesh in accordance with Apoc. 14:4; martyrs for their victory over the world in accordance
with Mt. 5:11 et seq.; teachers of the faith for their victory over the devil, the father of
lies, according to Dn. 12:3 and Mt. 5:19. According to St. Thomas the essence of the aureola
consists in joy for the works performed by them in the battle against the enemies of salvation
(Suppl. 96, 1). On the expression aurea cf. Apoc. 4:4; 14:4; for the expression
aureola Ex. 25:25.
- Properties of Heaven
- The bliss of Heaven lasts for all eternity. (De fide.)
- Pope Benedict XII declared: “The vision and this enjoyment (of the Divine
Essence) continues without interruption or diminution of the vision and enjoyment, and will
continue until the General Judgement and thenceforth for all eternity.”
- Jesus compares the reward for the good works with treasures in Heaven,
which cannot be lost (Mt. 6:20; Luke 12:33). He who makes friends with the Mammon of iniquity
will be taken up un the “eternal dwellings.” (Luke 16:9)
- The just will enter “eternal life” (Mt. 25:46; cf. Mt. 19:29; Rom. 2:7;
John 3:15 et seq.).
- St. Paul speaks of the eternal bliss under the picture of “an incorruptible
crown” (1 Cor. 9:25). St. Peter calls it “the incorruptible crown of glory” (1 Peter 5:4).
- Inequality of Reward
- The degree of perfection of the beatific vision granted to the just is
proportioned to each one’s merits. (De fide.)
- The Decretum pro Graecis of the Union Council of Florence (1439) declared:
The souls of the perfectly just “clearly behold the Triune and One God as He is, but
corresponding to the difference of their merits, the one more perfectly than the other.”
The Council of Trent defined that the justified person merits an increase of the heavenly
glory by good works.
- Christ promised: “He (the Son of Man) will render to every one according
to his works” (Mt. 16:27).
- St. Paul teaches: “And every man shall receive his own reward,
according to his own labour” (1 Cor. 3:8). “He who soweth sparingly shall also reap
sparingly: and he that soweth in blessings shall also reap blessings.”
(2 Cor. 9:6), (1 Cor. 15:41)
- The Fathers are fond of appealing to the words of Jesus concerning the
many mansions in the Father’s House (John 14:2).
- ... in the many mansions in the house of the Father (John 14:2)
he [St. Augustine] sees a symbol of the various grades of remuneration in the one
eternal life. To the objection that inequality gives rise to envy, he answers:
“There will be no envy on account of the unequal glory, since the unity of love will
reign in all.”