Map of Life - Lesson 14

Purgatory & Heaven

Definition of purgatory

Definition: Purgatory (from "purgare", to make clean, to purify) in accordance with Catholic teaching is a place or condition of temporal punishment for those who, departing this life in God's grace, are, not entirely free from venial faults, or have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions.

Why purification is necessary

When we are in unrepented venial sin or if we have not been sufficiently sorry (contrite) for our pardoned venial/mortal sins, our will is not totally subject (ordered) to God. Heaven, which is union with God, is impossible in these circumstances.

Definition of satisfaction

Final cause: Satisfaction restores the order of our will to God.

Formal cause: Satisfaction, is compensation for injury inflicted. Wherefore as the injury inflicted entailed of itself an inequality of justice, and consequently an inequality opposed to friendship, so satisfaction brings back directly equality of justice, and consequently equality of friendship.

Material cause: Any act of charity or any suffering accepted as a compensation for the injury of sin constitutes an act of satisfaction for oneself or for another.

Magnitude of acceptable satisfaction

Just as the offense was infinite due to the infinity of the Divine majesty injured, so does satisfaction derive a certain infinity from the infinity of Divine mercy, in so far as it is quickened by grace, whereby whatever man is able to repay becomes acceptable. (3aQ13a1ad1).

Punishment of purgatory

Gregory the Great speaks of those who after this life "will expiate their faults by purgatorial flames," and he adds "that the pain be more intolerable than any one can suffer in this life" (Ps. 3 poenit., n. 1). Following in the footsteps of Gregory, St. Thomas teaches (IV, dist. xxi, q. i, a.1) that besides the separation of the soul from the sight of God, there is the other punishment from fire. "Una poena damni, in quantum scilicet retardantur a divina visione; alia sensus secundum quod ab igne punientur", and St. Bonaventure not only agrees with St. Thomas but adds (IV, dist. xx, p.1, a.1, q. ii) that this punishment by fire is more severe than any punishment which comes to men in this life; "Gravior est omni temporali poena. quam modo sustinet anima carni conjuncta". How this fire affects the souls of the departed the Doctors do not know, and in such matters it is well to heed the warning of the Council of Trent when it commands the bishops "to exclude from their preaching difficult and subtle questions which tend not to edification', and from the discussion of which there is no increase either in piety or devotion" (Sess. XXV, "De Purgatorio"). (Cat.Ency)

Heaven: the supernatural vision of God

In heaven the just will see God by direct intuition, clearly and distinctly, not by created ideas, not by reasoning.

Here on earth we have no immediate perception of God; we see Him but indirectly in the mirror of creation. We get our first and direct knowledge from creatures, and then, by reasoning from these, we ascend to a knowledge of God according to the imperfect likeness which creatures bear to their Creator.

To enable it to see God, the intellect of the blessed is supernaturally perfected by the light of glory (lumen gloriae).

Theologians distinguish the primary and the secondary object of the beatific vision. The primary object is God Himself as He is.

1. The blessed see the Divine Essence by direct intuition, and, because of the absolute simplicity of God, they necessarily see all His perfections and all the persons of the Trinity.

2. Moreover, since they see that God can create countless imitations of His Essence, the entire domain of possible creatures lies open to their view, though indeterminately and in general, and revealed according to God's good pleasure.

Heaven: the natural beatitude

In heaven, besides his supernatural perfection, man attains his natural perfection: union of perfect body with the soul, perfection of all the faculties.

Happiness of heaven

Accordingly the essence of subjective beatitude is the possession of God, and it consists in the acts of vision, love, and joy.

- The blessed love God with a twofold love;

   - with the love of complacency, by which they love God for His own sake,

   - and secondly with the love less properly so called, by which they love Him as the source of their happiness (amor concupiscentiae).

- In consonance with this twofold love the blessed have a twofold joy;

   - firstly, the joy of love in the strict sense of the word, by which they rejoice over the infinite beatitude which they see in God Himself, precisely because it is the happiness of God whom they love,

   - and secondly, the joy springing from love in a wider sense, by which they rejoice in God because He is the source of their own supreme happiness.

These five acts constitute the essence of (subjective) beatitude, or in more precise terms, its physical essence. In this theologians agree.

Properties of heaven

1. It is a place, because in it are material things - the bodies of the saints.

2. It is eternal.

3. Sin is impossible in heaven.