A Manual of Catholic Theology, Based on Scheeben's Dogmatik
Joseph Wilhelm, D.D., PHD. And Thomas B. Scannell, D.D.
With a Preface By Cardinal Manning
Volume II --Book VIII The Last Things
BOOK VIII. The Last Things
To complete our task, we have now to see how man --created and elevated, fallen and redeemed --finally attains the end for which he was created by God. Death has already been spoken of (supra, p. 22). We shall here treat (1) of the Resurrection of the Body; (2) the Last Judgment; (3) Hell; (4) Purgatory; (5) Heaven.
St. Thomas, Contra Gentiles, iii. 1-63, iv. 79-97; Summa Theol., Supp. qq. 69-100; la 2ae, qq. 1-5; Jungmann, De Novissimis; Billot, De Novissimis; Atzberger, Handbuch der Katholischen Dogmatik, iv. p. 801; Die Christliche Eschatologie; Geschichte der Christl. Eschatologie; Oxenham, Catholic Eschatology; Turmel, Hist, de la Theologie Positive, p. 179; 356, 485; Tournebize, Opinions du Jour sur les Peines d' Outre-Tombe.
Sect. 280. --The Resurrection of the Body.
The Fourth Lateran Council has defined that all men, whether elect or reprobate, "will rise again with their own bodies which they now bear about with them (cum suis propriis resurgent corporibus qua nunc gestanty* (c. Firmiter). That is to say, at the Last Day the bodies of all mankind will be raised up again from the dead, and once more united to their souls, which of course have never ceased to live since their separation from the body. This doctrine of the resurrection of the body (resurrectio carnis, resurrectio mortuorum, and in Greek) is found expressed in numberless creeds and professions of faith from the earliest days of Christianity: e.g. in St. Irenaeus (Adv. Haeres., i. 10); Tertullian (De Praescr., 13); Origen (Periarch. praf., 5); in the Apostolic Constitutions (vii. 41); in the Apostles', Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds; in the Creed of the Eleventh Council of Toledo (Denzinger, Enchir., xxvi.); in the Creed of Leo IX, subscribed by Bishop Peter --still used at the consecration of bishops; the profession of faith subscribed by Michael Palaeologus in the Second Council of Lyons (Denzinger, I.c., lix.); and, finally, in the Creed of Pius IV.
I. 1. The Old Testament, as we should expect from its imperfect and preparatory character, speaks at first only vaguely, but afterwards with increasing definiteness, of the resurrection of the body. A Redeemer is to come Who will undo all the evil effects of Adam's sin; Who will bestow upon men bodily immortality, and will restore to them the full enjoyment of the happiness lost in Paradise. "For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and in the last day I shall rise out of the earth; and I shall be clothed again with my skin, and in my flesh I shall see God, Whom I myself shall see, and my eyes shall behold, and not another; this hope is laid up in my bosom"1 (Job xix. 25-27).
1 We venture to give the following as an exact translation of the Hebrew, 4 1 know that my avenger liveth, and at the last [lit. as the last one --i.e, to speak the last decisive word] he shall rise up on the dust. And after my skin has been thus destroyed [lit. which they have thus destroyed], and [away] from my flesh I shall see God, Whom I shall behold for myself, and mine eyes shall have seen [a preterite of confidence], and not another; my reins waste [with longing] in my breast.' There are very strong grounds for believing that Job here asserts his expectation of immortality, and this interpretation is held by critics, such as Ewald and Dillmann, who cannot be suspected of dogmatic prejudice. The confident hope of immortality shines forth clearly just when Job's desolation, when the absence of all human comfort is complete. The poem leads up naturally to this expression of confidence. There is a gradual advance from the doubts of ch. xiv. to the sublime prayer and trust of xvi. 18, ad fin. All this culminates in the passage before us; nor does Job fall back again to the depth of his former despair" (Cath. Dictionary, Ressurection of the Body).
Isaias foretells that the Lord of Hosts "shall cast death down headlong for ever" (xxv. 8); "Thy dead men shall live, My slain shall rise again; awake and give praise, ye that dwell in the dust: for thy dew is the dew of the light. And the land of the giants thou shalt pull down into ruin [Heb., the earth shall cast forth the dead, or the shades]. . . the earth shall disclose her blood, and shall cover her slain no more" (xxvi. 19-21). Ezechiel's vision of the resurrection of the dry bones (xxxvii.) refers, of course, in the first instance to the restoration of Israel; but the selection of such a figure is a proof of belief in a literal resurrection. "Many of those that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake: some unto life everlasting, and others unto reproach to see it always."2 (Dan. xii. 2; cf. 12; Apoc. vi. 3; Ps. xv. 10).
2 "Many" is frequently used in Scripture for "a great number," and so for "all" (Isa. liii. 11. 12: Matt. xxvi. 28; Rom. v. 19; v. 18).
In the Second Book of Machabees, the martyr brothers comfort themselves amidst their torments with the hope and belief that those very members which they were losing for God's sake will be again restored to them by Him. The third "quickly put forth his tongue, and courageously stretched out his hands, and said with confidence, These I have from heaven, but for the laws of God I now despise them, because I hope to receive them again from Him" (vii. 11; cf. 9, 14). This shows the belief prevalent among the people at that time; and Martha's words, "I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day" (John xi. 24), prove the same for a later period. It should be mentioned that the resurrection of the dead is the thirteenth article of the Jewish Creed.
2. The doctrine of the resurrection was not only confirmed by our Lord (John v. 28 sqq.; vi. 39 sqq.; xi. 25; Luke xiv. 14), but expressly defended by Him against the Sadducees, whose unbelief He attributed to their ignorance of the Scriptures and the power of God (Matt. xxii. 29; Luke xx. 37). It was preached by the Apostles as one of the fundamental doctrines of Christianity; e.g. by St. Paul at Athens (Acts xvii. 18, 31, 32), at Jerusalem (xxiii. 6), before Felix (xxiv. 15), before Agrippa (xxvi. 8); it is taught at great length in the Epistles (Rom. viii. 11; I Cor. vi. 14; xv. 12 sqq.; 2 Cor. iv. 14; v. i sqq.; Phil. iii. 21; I Thess. iv. 12-16; 2 Tim. ii. 11; Heb. vi. 2), and also in the Apocalypse (xx. 12 sqq.). Here we can quote only one of these passages: "If Christ be preached that He rose again from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen again; and if Christ be not risen again, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. . . . For by a man came death, and by a man the resurrection of the dead; and as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. . . . Behold, I tell you a mystery: we shall all indeed rise again, but we shall not all be changed. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall rise again incorruptible" (i Cor. xv. 12 sqq.).
3. Where the teaching of Scripture is so abundant and so clear on a matter so repugnant to the prevailing pagan beliefs, we are not surprised to find it one of the commonest topics treated of by the Fathers. They had to defend it not only against those who denied immortality of any sort, but also against those who (like Plato), while firmly believing in the immortality of the soul, held that the body was nothing but the prison of the soul, and death was an escape from the bondage of matter. When "certain philosophers of the Epicureans and Stoics heard of the resurrection of the dead, some indeed mocked" (Acts xvii. 32). "No doctrine of the Christian faith," says St. Augustine, "is so vehemently and so obstinately opposed as the doctrine of the resurrection of the flesh" (In Ps., Ixxxviii., Serm., ii. n. 5). The various sects of Gnostics and Manichaeans, who looked upon all matter as evil, naturally denied the resurrection. So, too, did their followers, the Priscillianists, the Cathari, and Albigenses. We need hardly add that in our day the Rationalists, Materialists, and Pantheists are also opposed to the doctrine. See Justin Martyr, Dial, cum Tryph., 80; Tatian, Grace., 6; Origen, In Levit., Hom. v. n. 10; Tertullian, De Resurr. Carn., c. I; St. Basil, Ep. cclxxi. n. 3; St. Ephrasm, De Resurr. Mort.; St. Augustine, De Civ. Dei, xx. 20; Theodoret, Hist. Eccl., i. 4, etc.
4. No real proof from reason can be adduced in favour of the resurrection; it is from revelation alone that we can prove the doctrine. Nevertheless, the Fathers commonly argue that man's position in the universe as linking together spirit and matter, his desire for complete and perfect happiness, the share which the body takes both in our good and evil deeds that all of these, if they do not absolutely prove the resurrection, at least point to its fittingness. And they appeal to certain analogies found in revelation and in nature itself; e.g. Jonas in the whale's belly; the three children in the fiery furnace; Daniel in the lions' den; the carrying away of Henoch and Elias; the raising of the dead; the blossoming of Aaron's rod; the preservation of the garments of the Israelites in the desert; the grain of seed dying and springing up again; the egg; the seasons of the year; day succeeding day; and the mythical Phoenix. These form the subject of countless pictures in early Christian art. See Kraus, Encycl. Archaol., art. Aufer-Stehung; Northcote and Brownlow, Roma Sotterranea.
II. "Christ's resurrection," says St. Thomas, "is the cause and model of our resurrection (causa efficiens et exemplaris)" (3, q. 56, a. I, ad. 3). "Christ is risen from the dead, the first-fruits of them that sleep; for by a man came death, and by a man the resurrection of the dead" (i Cor. xv. 20, 21).
1. The work of redemption was to undo the evil wrought by Adam's sin, and to restore the gifts originally bestowed upon mankind (Rom. v.). By sin death was brought into the world (Gen. iii. 19); but Christ has triumphed over sin and death (i Cor. xv. 54-57). "He was delivered up for our sins, and rose again for our justification" (Rom. iv. 25). "I am the Resurrection, and the Life," He said; "he that believeth in Me, although he be dead, shall live; and every one that liveth and believeth in Me shall not die for ever" (John xi. 25, 26). "Our bodies are the members of Christ" (i Cor. vi. 15); "We are members of His body, of His flesh, of His bones" (Eph. v. 30). We have already pointed out that the preternatural gifts were not immediately restored to man by redemption; they are, however, kept in store for us, and are to be enjoyed by us in our resurrection.
2. "Christ will reform (Greek) the body of our lowness (Greek), made like to the body of His glory (Greek)" (Phil. iii. 2l). "If we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection" (Rom. vi. 5). In accordance with the doctrine of i Cor. xv. and other passages of Holy Scripture, theologians teach that the risen bodies of the just, like Christ's risen body, will be endowed with four principal qualities (dotes):
(a) Impassibility, including incorruptibility and immortality. Just as "Christ rising from the dead dieth now no more; death shall no more have dominion over Him" (Rom. vi. 9); so "they that shall be accounted worthy of that world, and of the resurrection from the dead . . . neither can they die any more" (Luke xx. 35, 36); "It is sown in corruption (Greek), it shall rise in incorruption (Greek)" (i Cor. xv. 42); "God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, and death shall be no more, nor mourning, nor crying, nor sorrow shall be any more" (Apoc. xxi. 4).
(b) Brightness (claritas). As the face of Jesus at His Transfiguration shone like the sun, so "shall the just shine as the sun in the kingdom of their Father" (Matt. xiii. 43; cf. Dan. xii. 3; Wisd. iii. 7); for the body "is sown in dishonour, it shall rise in glory (Greek)" (l Cor. xv. 43). According to the merits of each will be the brightness of each: "One is the glory of the sun, another the glory of the moon, and another the glory of the stars, for star differeth from star in glory (Greek)" (ibid. 4i).
(c) Agility, i.e. the power of moving from place to place, so as to be immediately anywhere that we wish. Our Lord's risen body appeared and disappeared at His will, and ascended into heaven when it pleased Him.
(d) Spirituality (subtilitas) by means of which the body becomes so completely subject to the soul, and participates to such an extent in the soul's more perfect and purer life, that it becomes itself like to a spirit. "It is sown a natural body (Greek), it shall rise a spiritual body (Greek)" (l Cor. xv. 44). This quality is generally explained in the special sense of subtlety or penetrability, that is, of being able to pass through material objects, just as our Lord's risen body did. See St. Thomas, Suppl, qq. 83-85.
III. The great difficulty against the resurrection of the body is as to how its identity is to be preserved. That we shall all rise again with the same bodies is of the very essence of the doctrine (Job xix. 25 sqq.; 2 Mach. vii. 1 1; Rom. viii. II; I Cor. xv. 53; Tertullian, Contr. Marcion, v. 9; Origen, Princip., ii. 10, I; St. Ambrose. Fid. Resurr., 87; St. Jerome, Contr. Joan. Hieros., 33; St. Augustine, De Civ. Dei, xxii. cc. 19, 20; Serm. ccxiv. 12; ccxxxv. 4; ccxliii. 3; cclvi. 2, etc.). Nevertheless, the particles of the body are continually passing away, and being replaced by others; and the particles of one human body may enter into the composition of other human bodies.1
1 See Hamlet's speech in the graveyard.
We must not, therefore, press too far the material identity of the earthly and the risen body. Some theologians, following St. Augustine, have thought it sufficient if any of the particles which at any time formed part of the earthly body are preserved. Others have not required even so much as this. We cannot here enter into the discussion. See Jungmann, De Novissimis, c. iii. a. 2; Atzberger, op. cit., p. 916.
Sect. 281. --The Last, or General Judgment.
We have seen that though "God wills all men to be saved," and though Christ died for all, yet as a fact some will be saved and some will be lost. The decision of their eternal fate is given when their course is run: in the case of the individual, at his death; in the case of the human race as a whole, at the end of time. This latter, which is called the Last, or General, Judgment, is the one which concerns us here.
I. Mankind in the sight of God is not simply a number of individuals, but a great whole: one great family, having the same origin, involved in the same ruin, rescued by the same Redeemer. Although the Creator wills and promotes the good of every single creature, yet each is subservient to the good of the whole. Moreover, every man's action is not isolated, but influences and is influenced by that of his fellow-men, whether past, present, or future. God "reacheth from end to end mightily, and ordereth all things sweetly; "nevertheless, to us who cannot contemplate the whole, "His ways are unsearchable" (Rom. xii. 33). A day, however, will come, "the day of the Lord" (Joel ii. 31), when all will be made clear, and His ways will be justified in the sight of all mankind (St. Thomas. 3, q. 59, a. 5).
I. In the Old Testament the Prophets speak of a great judgment which is to take place in the last days (Isa. Ixvi. 15 sqq.; Joel ii. 29 sqq.; iii. 2 sqq.; Mai. iv. i; Soph. i. 14 sqq.). From them the Jews gathered their notion of a glorious and mighty Messias; and hence they rejected our Lord, Who came to them in poverty and in weakness. But He, referring to these very prophecies, foretold His Second Coming in great power and majesty to judge the living and dead (Matt. xiii. 41; xix. 28; xxiv. 27 sqq.; xxv. 31 sqq.; Mark xiii. 24 sqq.; Luke xxi.25 sqq.). The Apostles repeatedly preach this coming of Christ as an exhortation to a holy life, and as a consolation in the midst of sorrows and trials: e.g. St. Peter at the conversion of Cornelius (Acts x. 42); St. Paul at Athens (ibid. xvii. 31), and in his Epistles (Rom. ii. 5 sqq.; xiv. 10; I Cor. iv. 5; 2 Cor. v. 10; 2 Tim. iv. i; 2 Thess. i. 5 sqq.); and St. James (v. 7 sqq.).1
1 This second "coming (Greek, adventus)" (Matt. xxiv. 2), is also called "appearance (Greek, Vulg. adventus)" (i Tim. vi. 14); "the appearing of His kingdom (Greek, Vulg. adventus et regnum, a hendiadys)" (2 Tim. iv. i); "the appearing of His glory (Greek, adventus gloriae)" (Tit. ii. 14); "the appearing of His presence (Greek, illustratio adventus)" (2 Thess. ii. 8); "revelation (Greek)" (ibid., i. 7); "revelation of His glory (Greek)" (i Peter iv. 13); "appearance (Greek)" (Col. iii. 4); and also "the kingdom of God" (Luke xxi. 31).
2. In all the early creeds belief in the General Judgment is professed, usually in connection with our Lord's second coming. "Sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead" (Apostles' Creed). "And He shall come again with glory to judge the living and the dead" (Nicene Creed). "He sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from whence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. At Whose coming all men shall rise again (resurgere habenf) with their bodies, and shall give an account of their works" (Athanasian Creed).
II. Having thus established the fact of a future General Judgment, we turn now to the various circumstances and details connected with it
I. The time of Christ's second coming has not been made known to us: "Of that day or hour no man knoweth, neither the angels in heaven nor the Son, but the Father" (Mark xiii. 32). Hence our Lord continually warns us to be on the watch, so as not to be taken unawares: He will come like a thief in the night (Matt xxiv. 42); "in a day that [man] hopeth not, and at an hour he knoweth not" (ibid. 50)." Take heed to yourselves lest . . . that day come upon you suddenly; for as a snare shall it come" (Luke xxi. 34, 35); "Watch ye therefore (for you know not when the Lord of the house cometh; at even, or at midnight, or at the cock-crowing, or in the morning): lest coming on a sudden He find you sleeping; and what I say to you I say to all : Watch" (Mark xiii. 35-37). The Apostles seem to have expected their Master's return almost immediately: "The end of all is at hand; be prudent, therefore, and watch in prayers" (i Pet. iv. 7); "The coming of the Lord is at hand (in Greek); . . . behold, the Judge standeth at the door" (James v. 8, 9); "Little children, it is the last hour (Greek)" (i John ii. 18). On the other hand, St. Paul begs the Thessalonians not to be alarmed by those who speak" as if the day of the Lord were at hand (in Greek)" (2 Thess. ii. 2; cf. 2 Pet. iii. 8 sqq.). Nor is the uncertainty removed by the various signs which are to announce the approach of the Last Day. "Wars, and rumours of wars," "pestilences, and famines, and earthquakes in places" (Matt. xxiv. 6, 7) are unhappily common enough; "the signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars" (Luke xxi. 24), are the accompaniments rather than the forerunners of the coming; the universal spreading of the Gospel (Matt. xxiv. 14) and the conversion of the Jews (Rom. xi. 26) are not sufficiently definite; while the coming of Antichrist and the return of Henoch and Elias are themselves full of mystery. Hence, even some of the Fathers (e.g. St. Gregory the Great, Hom, i., in Evang.) and other Saints (e.g. St. Vincent Ferrer) have mistaken the date of the Last Day.
2. The place in which the Judgment will be held is here on earth; for all the various texts and creeds speak of a coming or return to where our Lord was before. We must not, however, take this to mean simply the solid earth on which we stand: "They shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven" (Matt. xxiv. 39); "We who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with Christ into the air" (i Thess. iv. 16). The valley of Josaphat has been mentioned by some as the exact spot, by reason of the prophecy, "I will gather together all the nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Josaphat" (Joel iii. 2); but these words can have only a remote reference to the Last Judgment. The neighbourhood of Jerusalem, however, where our Lord suffered, and whence He ascended into heaven, would seem to be a fitting place for His return and His final triumph.
3. The Judge will be our Lord Jesus Christ in His human nature, as the Son of Man. "Neither doth the Father judge any man; but hath given all judgment to the Son . . . and He hath given Him power to do judgment because He is the Son of Man" (John v. 22, 27; Matt. xxiv. 30; xxv. 31; Luke xxi. 27). His second coming will be the completion of the work of the Incarnation. Then it is that the prophecies which speak of His power and glory and triumph will be fulfilled. At His first coming "He humbled Himself, taking the form of a servant;" His Divinity was hidden; He came to be judged, to suffer, and to die; but at His return He will come with great power and majesty; His Divinity will shine forth in His humanity; He will come to judge the living and dead, to triumph over His enemies, and bestow eternal reward on the faithful. "This Jesus, who is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come, as you have seen Him going into heaven (in Greek)" (Acts i. 1 1).
This office of Judge, which properly belongs to our Lord, He will to some extent communicate to the Apostles and other Saints (Matt xix. 28; I Cor. vi. 2 sqq.).
4. All mankind, both good and bad; those who shall be alive at the Last Day, as well as those who shall have died, will be judged: "We shall all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ" (Rom. xiv. I0; 2 Cor. v. 10; 2 Thess. iv. 14 sqq.); "The hour cometh wherein all that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that have done good things shall come forth unto the resurrection of life; but they that have done evil unto the resurrection of judgment" (John v. 28, 29). When it is said, "Judge not, that ye may not be judged" (Matt. vii. 7), judgment here and in similar passages (John iii. 18) is clearly meant in the sense of condemnation (cf. John xvi. 11). St. Paul says that "we shall judge angels" (i Cor. vi. 3); and of the fallen angels it is said that "God delivered them drawn down by infernal ropes to the lower hell to be reserved unto judgment" (2 Pet. ii. 4); or, as St. Jude says (6), "unto the judgment of the great day." We may believe that the Angels, good and bad, will be judged either on account of their relations with mankind, or because they are subject to Him to Whom "all power is given in heaven and on earth," Whom all the angels of God are to adore (Heb. i. 6), in Whose Name "every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth" (Phil, ii. 10).
5. Christ will judge men according as they have believed in Him, and have kept His commandments. "Whosoever believeth in Him may not perish, but may have life everlasting" (John iii. 16); "He who heareth My word, and believeth Him that sent Me, hath life everlasting" (ibid. v. 24); "The Son of Man shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then will He render to every one according to his works" (Matt. xvi. 27; cf. xxv. 3146; 2 Cor. v. 10). Every deed, "every idle word that men shall speak" (Matt. xii. 36), will be revealed before the eyes of all: "The Lord will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts" (i Cor. iv. 5). This manifestation is described by St. John in the words of the Apocalypse: "I saw the dead, great and small, standing in the presence of the throne, and the books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged, every one according to their works" (xx. 12). And not only the works of men, but the works of God also, will be manifested on that day: the acts of His infinite mercy; the hidden workings of His justice; the unsearchable ways of His providence, so that He may be justified in the sight of all. "What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter" (John xiii. 7).
6. When "all the nations shall be gathered together before Him, the Son of Man shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats; and He shall set the sheep on His right hand, and the goats on His left" (Matt. xxv. 32, 33; cf. xiii. 24-43. 48). Then will follow the final sentence of reward or condemnation:
"Depart from Me,"
"Ye blessed of My Father,"
"Possess you the kingdom"
"Into everlasting fire"
"Prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
"Prepared for the devil and his angels.
"And these shall go into everlasting punishment, but the just into life everlasting" (Matt. xxv. 34, 41, 46). See St. Thomas, 3, q. 59, and Suppl., qq. 89, 90, and the commentators thereon; Freiburg Kirchenlexikon, art. Gottliches Gericht.
Sect. 282. --Hell.
"The everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels," to which the wicked will be condemned, is called "Hell (Hebrew, Greek, Latin, infernus)"1
1 Our English word "Hell comes to us from the Anglo-Saxon Hel, originally "a hidden place."
We must, however, bear in mind that these words are sometimes used in Scripture to mean merely the grave, or the unseen world generally (e.g. Gen. xxxvii. 35; xlii. 38; Acts ii. 27, 31; Apoc. xx. 13; cf. Job x. 21, 22). It is from the context that we can ascertain whether the abode of the damned is referred to. We have already said something on this question when treating of our Lord's descent into Hell.
I. That the wicked will be punished after death is acknowledged by all who maintain the existence of God and the immortality of the soul. God is holy, and therefore hates sin; He is just, and therefore claims satisfaction for the offences committed against Him; He is wise, and therefore requires punishment as a means of restoring the moral order.2
2 "Giustizia mosse il mio alto Fattore :
Feceini la divina potestate,
La somma Sapienza e il primo Amore."
Dante, Infeno, Cant. iii.
Inasmuch as sin does not receive its due punishment in this world, it must do so in the other. Hence the traditions of all nations speak of some sort of hell. It is from Revelation, however, that we derive our chief information about the fate of the damned. "The Lord Almighty will take revenge on them, in the day of judgment He will visit them; for He will give fire and worms into their flesh, that they may burn and feel for ever" (Judith xvi. 21). "Many of those that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake: some unto life everlasting, and others unto reproach to see it always" (Dan. xii. 2; see also Isaias xxxiii. 14; Ixvi. 24; Wisd. iv. 19). In the New Testament mention is made over and over again of "Hell," "Hell-fire," "everlasting fire," "the fiery furnace," where there "shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Matt. v. 22; vii. 13; x. 28; xiii. 42; xxv. 41, etc.).
The Fathers, from the very earliest times, all agree in teaching the real existence of Hell, and prove it both from Holy Scripture and reason (see St. Justin M., Apol., ii. c. 9; Athenagoras, De Res Mort., c. xix.; St. Ignatius, Ad Eph. c. xvi.; Tertullian, Adv. Marc., i. c. 26; St. John Chrysost., Hom, iv., De Fato et Provid.). The most important decisions of the Church on the subject are the profession of faith made in the Second Council of Lyons (1274), (repeated in the Decree of Union in the Council of Florence, 1439): "The souls of those who depart in mortal sin, or only with original sin, go down immediately into hell, to be punished, however, by different torments (mox in infernum descendere, pcenis tamen disparibus puniendas); "and the definition of the Fourth Lateran Council (1215), that the wicked "shall receive everlasting punishment (poenam perpetuam) with the devil" (cap. Firmiter). See also the Council of Trent, sess. vi. c. 14; sess. xiv. can. 5.
II. Putting aside as comparatively unimportant the question where Hell is1, we have now to consider the nature and duration of the torments of the damned.
1 Many passages both in the Old and New Testaments seem to indicate that Hell is somewhere under the earth (Num. xvi. 31 sqq.; I Kings xxviii. 13 sqq.; Ecclus. xxiv. 45; xlvi. 23; Matt. xii. 40; Eph. iv. 9; Phil. ii. 10; Apoc. v. 3; xii. 9). Such, too, is the common teaching of the Fathers and theologians (see St. Thomas, Suppl., q. 97, a. 7; Suarez, De Angelis, lib. viii. c. 16, n. 17 sqq.). But St. Augustine's words should be borne in mind: In what part of the world (mundi, the universe) Hell is, I think no man knows, but He to Whom the 'Spirit of God hath revealed it' " (De Civ. Dei, lib. xv. cap. 16).
1. As sin is a turning away from God and a turning towards creatures (aversio a Deo, conversio ad creaturam) a twofold punishment is suffered by the sinner: one privative, the other positive.
(a) The pain (or punishment) of loss (poena damni) consists in the privation of the highest good to which man is destined, viz. God Himself, and the enjoyment of His blessed vision. "Depart from Me, ye cursed." "I know you not whence you are; depart from Me, all ye workers of iniquity" (Matt xxv. 41; Luke xiii. 27; cf. I Cor. vi. 9; Apoc. xxii. 15). Theologians rightly look upon this as the most dreadful of all the punishments of Hell; it is the utter blighting of one's existence; nothing can be worse than to realize that one has lost for ever by his own fault the Greatest of all Goods, for which he was made, and which he might so easily have attained. It is "so great a punishment that no torments known to us can be compared to it" (St. Augustine, Enchirid., c. 112; see also St. John Chrysostom, Ad Theodos. Laps., i. nn. 10, 12).
(b) The positive punishment is called the pain (or punishment) of sense (poena sensus). It embraces all the torments not comprehended under the pain of loss, and is so called because it produces sensible suffering, and is produced chiefly by a sensible object, viz. fire. That there is a fire of some sort in hell is taught in numberless passages of Holy Scripture (e.g. Matt. xiii. 3050; xviii. 8; xxv. 41; Mark ix. 42 sqq.; 2 Thess. i. 8; Heb. x. 27; Apoc. xviii. 8; xix. 20; xx. 9, sqq., etc.). The question is whether this "fire" is to be understood in the metaphorical sense of spiritual torments, such as anguish of conscience, etc., as Origen (De Princ., ii. 4 sqq.), St. Ambrose (In Luc., xiv.), Theophylact (In Marc., ix.), Catharinus, and some others maintain; or in the strict sense of material fire. This latter opinion is the common teaching of the Fathers and theologians, though not defined by the Church (Suarez, De Angelis, 1. viii. c. 12; Petavius, De Angelis, 1. iii. c. 5); and is supported by the various expressions used in the Sacred Writings when hell is spoken of: e.g. "the furnace of fire" (Matt. xiii. 42); "the bottomless pit" (Apoc. ix. i); "the pool of fire and brimstone" (ibid. xx. 9); "the rage of fire shall consume," etc. (Heb. x. 27); "I am tormented in this flame" (Luke xvi. 24); "a flame of fire yielding vengeance to them who know not God, and who obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Thess. i. 8); "the fire is not extinguished, for every one shall be salted with fire" (Mark ix. 48). How pure spirits (the devils) and disembodied spirits (the souls of the wicked before the resurrection of the body) can be affected by a material substance is beyond our comprehension; but the fact is not therefore to be denied (see St. Thomas, In iv. Sent., dist. 44, q. 3, a. 2; Suppl., q. 70, a. 3; Contra Gent., iv. 90; Suarez, De Angelis, lib. viii. c. 14, n. 46). Besides the various torments arising from the action of fire, the damned suffer the pangs of remorse; "their worm (Greek) dieth not" (Mark ix. 43, 45, 47); their intellects are darkened, their wills are impenitent, and the companionship of the devils and other lost souls adds to their misery. After the resurrection their bodies will likewise be tormented, as having been the partakers of their sins (St. Thomas, Suppl., q. 98; Contra Gentes, 1. iv. c. 89).
2. The various passages of Scripture already quoted clearly teach the eternity of the pains of Hell. The argument does not depend simply upon the meaning of the word "everlasting" (aeternus, or [simulated] Greek, aiwvioc)1
1 "The word (Greek 'alavios') (eternal) is used no less than seventy-one times in the New Testament. In twenty-four of these cases, twenty-three of which occur in the writings of St. John, it is an epithet of ('wn' in Greek) (life); in nine other places it is applied to the 'redemption,' 'salvation,' 'glory,' 'abode,' 'inheritance,' or 'consolation' reserved for the blessed; in seven to the 'fire,' 'judgment,' 'punishment,' or 'destruction' of the impenitent. In two places only (Philem. 15; Jude 7) is it even fairly arguable that it may (not must) have a figurative or indefinite meaning, short of the full sense of everlasting; but both are denuded of all but a merely rhetorical force by so explaining it" (Oxenham, Eschatology, p. 136).
it is from the context, and also from other expressions, that we gather that the punishment is to have no end. "Their worm dieth not, and their fire is not extinguished (Greek) " (Mark ix. 44); "It is better for thee to enter lame into life everlasting than having two feet to be cast into the hell of unquenchable fire (Greek)" (ibid. 45). "Life everlasting" is opposed to "everlasting punishment" (Matt. xxv. 41); and as the one has no end, so also the other. Moreover the wicked are said, over and over again, to be absolutely excluded from the kingdom of God: "He that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost shall never have forgiveness, but shall be guilty of an everlasting sin" (Mark iii. 29; Matt, xii. 32). "Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers ... shall possess the kingdom of God" (i Cor. vi. 9, 10); "It were better for him if that man had not been born" (Matt. xxvi. 24); "Not every one that saith to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. vii. 21); "I never knew you; depart from Me, you that work iniquity" (ibid. 23); "There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out" (Luke xiii. 28); "The pool of fire and brimstone, where both the beast and the false prophet shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever (in Greek)" (Apoc. xx. 9, 10).
Bearing these texts in mind, and remembering that a judge's final sentence should be clear, we are forced to interpret our Lord's words, "Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire," as meaning a punishment that will have no end. "If Christ had intended to teach the doctrine of eternal punishment, could He possibly have taught it in plainer or more direct terms? If He did not intend to teach it, could He possibly have chosen language more certain, a priori, to mislead, as the unbroken experience of eighteen centuries proves, a posteriori, that it always has misled, the immense multitude of His disciples?"1
1 Oxenham, op. cit., 124. Compare also the argument for the Real Presence, supra, p. 408.
The teaching of the Fathers on the eternity of Hell is almost unanimous. St. Clement of Rome, St. Justin Martyr, Theophilus, Tertullian, Minucius Felix, St. Irenaeus (Contra Haer., iv. 28), St. Cyprian (Ad Demetr., 24, 25), and Hippolytus --to mention only the early Fathers --all speak of "eternal punishments," "unquenchable fire," "eternal fire," "torments without end" (see Petavius, De Angelis, lib. iii. c. 8). The great Origen, it is true, held that all men, and even the devils, would be saved at last (De Princ., i. 6; In Josu., Hom, viii.); and his teaching to some extent influenced the opinions of St. Gregory of Nyssa (Or. Cat., 26), St. Gregory of Nazianzum, St. Ambrose, and St. Jerome (In Is., xiv. 20), see Petavius (I.c., cap. 7).1
1 St. Gregory of Nazianzum hoped that sinners; would not be punished for ever; St. Jerome that at least sinners who were Catholics would not be so punished. St. Ambrose's opinion was that men not devils may be purified and restored even after condemnation at the judgment.
But the long catena of passages quoted by Petavius (I.c.) proves that these were merely exceptions to the general teaching. Origen's views were condemned by the Fifth Ecumenical Council (553), which brands the doctrine of restoration as monstrous (in Greek) (can. i.). His name also figures in the eleventh anathema, though here no mention is made of any particular error (see the question discussed in Hefele, Hist, of the Councils, ii. 898). "Which faith," says the Athanasian Creed, "except every one do keep entire and inviolate, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly. . . . They that have done good shall go into life everlasting; and they that have done evil, into everlasting fire. This is the Catholic faith." The Fourth Lateran Council (c. Firmiter) and the Council of Trent (sess. vi. c. 14; sess. xiv. can. 5) speak of "everlasting punishment" (poena perpetua), "eternal punishment" (poena aeterna), and "eternal damnation" (damnatio aeterna).
It may be objected that a doctrine which seems opposed to the goodness and mercy, and even justice of God, cannot be contained in Holy Scripture, and that therefore these passages cannot be taken to mean that the punishments of the damned will be endless; especially as the Scriptures distinctly teach that God "will not always be angry, nor will He threaten for ever" (Ps. cii. 9), and they also speak of a "restitution of all things (in Greek)" (Acts iii. 21); "when all things shall be subdued unto Him, then the Son also Himself shall be subject unto Him that put all things under Him, that God may be all in all" (i Cor. xv. 28). We readily acknowledge .the difficulty of reconciling the eternity of Hell with the existence of an infinitely merciful God; but the doctrine is taught so distinctly, that we have to accept it just like other doctrines which we cannot understand. What shall we say, then? Is there injustice with God? God forbid" (Rom. ix. 14). We must, of course, put aside all exaggerated notions as to the numbers of the lost.1
1 As to the vast numbers of the saved, we have the testimony of St. John: "I saw a great multitude which no man could number, of all nations, and tribes, and peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and in the sight of the Lamb, clothed with white robes and palms in their hands" (Apoc. vii. 9). The whole question is discussed in Faber's Creator and Creature.
We cannot believe that God, "Who will have all men to be saved" (i Tim. ii. 4), will condemn any one who has not deliberately rejected Him. The difficulty about the salvation of those who are outside the Church has already been dealt with (supra, p. 385; and vol. i. p. 135); and the fate of unbaptized children will be considered presently. It is, however, the belief in Purgatory which is of the greatest help to a belief in Hell. If we admit that after this life the imperfect will suffer punishments which will have an end, we can more readily believe that the hardened sinners will be for ever cast out of God's sight. It is surely noteworthy that the Protestants, who began by rejecting Purgatory" as a fond thing vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the Word of God," should now be giving up their belief in Hell, and taking refuge in some sort of Purgatory, and appealing to the Scriptures in proof of its existence.2
2 As to the possibility of some alleviation in the torments of the damned, we content ourselves with quoting the words of Petavius: "De hac damnatorum saltern hominum respiratione, nihil adhuc certi decretum est ab Ecclesia Catholica: ut propterea non temere, tanquam absurda, sit explodenda sanctissimorum Patrum haec opinio : quamvis a communi semu Catholicorum hoc tempore sit aliena" (De Angelis, fin.). See Newman. Grammar of Assent, note iii.
Scholion. Besides Hell, properly so called, there are other abodes of the departed which sometimes are called by that name. The just who died before Christ's ascension into Heaven were unable to enter that place of bliss. "All these being approved by the testimony of faith, received not the promise" (Heb. xi. 39). They were detained in "Limbo," so called because it was believed to be on the border or fringe (limbus) of Hell. They suffered no torments, except that of hope delayed. Hence their abode was also called Paradise" (Luke xxiii. 43), and "Abraham's bosom" (ibid. xvi. 23). This "Limbo of the Fathers," which no longer has any existence, must be distinguished from the "Limbo of the children" (limbus puerorum) where unbaptized infants are detained (supra, § 164).
Sect. 283. --Purgatory.
Those who depart this life in a state of grace are not always fit to enter at once into the Beatific Vision. They may be burdened with venial sin; or, though entirely free from any kind of sin, they may still have not fully paid the debt of temporal punishment due for their forgiven sins. Such souls must be cleansed from their sins, or must undergo this temporal punishment. The abode or condition in which this takes place, is what is meant by Purgatory. It is therefore a sort of middle state between Heaven and Hell; but the souls who are there are really saved, and will infallibly enter Heaven as soon as they are fitted for that happy consummation. They can no longer merit or sin; they cannot properly satisfy God by meriting --they can only make some sort of satisfaction by suffering. On the other hand, the faithful who are still on earth can help them by their prayers and good works, and for this purpose nothing is so efficacious as the Mass. The Council of Trent, in dealing with the subject, confines itself to the definition of these two points: "that there is a Purgatory, and that the souls there detained are helped by the suffrages of the faithful, but chiefly by the acceptable sacrifice of the altar" (sess. xxv.; cf. sess. vi. can. 30; sess. xxii. chap. 2, can. 3; and also the decree of union in the Council of Florence, Denzinger's Enchir., Ixxiii.). The Council adds a warning which has not always been sufficiently borne in mind by spiritual writers and preachers: "Let the more difficult and subtle questions which tend not to edification, and from which, for the most part, there is no increase of piety, be excluded from popular discourses before the uninstructed people In like manner, such things as are uncertain, or which labour under an appearance of error, let them (the bishops) not allow to be made public and treated of; while those things which tend to a certain kind of curiosity or superstition, or which savour of filthy lucre, let them prohibit as scandals and stumbling-blocks of the faithful" Before proceeding to the proof of the doctrine defined by the Council, we observe that the two points hang very much together; prayer for the dead implying that the souls could benefit thereby, and so implying the existence of a middle and temporary state.
I. The strongest proof of the existence of Purgatory is undoubtedly to be found in tradition and the general principles of theology; but Holy Scripture is not wanting in indications that there is a place of purgation after death.
I. "And making a gathering, (Judas) sent twelve thousand drachms of silver to Jerusalem for sacrifice to be offered for the sins of the dead, thinking well and religiously concerning the resurrection (for if he had not hoped that they that were slain should rise again, it would have seemed superfluous and vain to pray for the dead); and because he considered that they who had fallen asleep with godliness had great grace laid up for them. It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sin" (2 Machabees xiii. 43-46). In these words is clearly expressed the belief in a middle state, in which the departed can benefit by the prayers and good works of those who are still here on earth. The Jews here spoken of had been slain while fighting in God's cause, but they had been guilty of taking and concealing the idols of the enemy, and had fallen with this sin upon their souls.1
1 Even Protestants, who reject the books of Machabees as uncanonical, must admit that we have here an historical proof of the belief of the Jews --priests, rulers, and people --in a state of purgation after death, and in the efficacy of prayers and good works for those who are detained there. Weber (Alt-synag. Palast. Theol., p. 326, seq.) thus sums up the Rabbinical doctrine: "Only a few are sure of [immediate] entrance into heaven; the majority are at their death still not ripe for heaven, and yet will not be absolutely excluded from it. Accordingly, we are referred to a middle state, a stage between death and eternal life, which serves for the final perfecting" (quoted in Cath. Dictionary, art. Purgatory).
The Fathers also appeal to Tob. iv. 18, Ecclus. vii. 37, and Ps. Ixv. 12, as indications of the doctrine of Purgatory. Our Lord tells us that the sin against the Holy Ghost "shall not be forgiven neither in this world nor in the world to come (Greek)" (Matt. xii. 32); whence we infer that as some sins will be forgiven hereafter, there must be a state or place of purification for some souls which depart this life in sin. Again, His words concerning the prison, "Thou shalt not go out from thence till thou repay the last farthing" (Matt. v. 26), are taken by some of the Fathers as referring to Purgatory (St. Augustine, De Civ. Dei, 1. xxi. c. 24, n. 2; St. Gregory the Great, Dial., 1. iv. c. 39; St. Bernard, Hom. Ixvi., In Cant.; Tertullian, De Anima, c. xxxv.; St. Cyprian, Epist., Iv. al. lii., Ad Anton.; St. Jerome, In cap. v., Matt.; cf. Bellarmine, De Purgat., 1. i. c. 7; Suarez, In 3 Part., disp. 45, sect. l).1
1 Elsewhere St. Augustine takes the passage to refer to Hell (De Serm. Dom. in Monte, 1. i. c. 11). Hence Maldonatus (in loc.): "When Christ says that we shall not go out from thence until we have paid the last farthing, He does not mean, as Augustine observes, that we shall go out later on, but that we shall never go out; because those who are in hell, as they owe infinite pains for every mortal sin, go on paying for ever, but never pay off."
According to Bellarmine (I.c., cap. 5), the well-known passage of St. Paul (i Cor. iii. 13-15) is held by the common consent of the Fathers and theologians to refer to Purgatory.2
2 St. Chrysostom, however, takes it as referring to Hell; while St. Augustine (Enchirid. n. 68, and elsewhere) and St. Gregory the Great (Dial., lib. iv. c. 39) refer it to afflictions here on earth.
"Every man's work shall be manifest: for the day of the Lord shall declare it, because it shall be revealed in fire; and the fire shall try every man's work, of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work burn, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire (Greek)" For an adequate interpretation of this most obscure passage, we must refer the reader to Estius or Bellarmine (loc. cit.). Other New Testament texts sometimes appealed to are Matt. v. 22; Luke xvi. 9; I Cor. xv. 29; Phil. ii. 10.
2. If we turn to tradition, the proofs both from Eastern as well as Western Fathers and Liturgies are overwhelming. "We make on one day every year oblations for the dead, as for their birthdays (oblationes pro defunctis, pro natalitiis annua die facimus)" (Tertullian, De Corona Milit., cap. 3). "The faithful widow," he also says, "prays for the soul of her husband, and begs for him in the interim refreshment, and in the first resurrection companionship, and offers on the anniversary days of his death (et pro anima ejus orat, et refrigerium interim adpostulat ei, et in prima resurrectione consortium, et offert annuis diebus dormitionis ejus)" (De Monogam., n. 10). St. Cyprian says that if a priest disobeys certain laws of the Church (which he mentions), "there should be no oblation for him, nor sacrifice be celebrated on his falling asleep (nee sacrificium pro ejus dormitione celebraretur)" (Ep., Ixvi, ad Clerum et Plebem Furnis; cf. Ep., xxxiv., De Celenno; Ep., xxxvii., ad Clerum; Ep. lii., ad Antonianum). "Give perfect rest to Thy servant Theodosius, that rest which Thou hast prepared for Thy saints (Da requiem perfectam servo tuo Theodosio, requiem illam quam praeparasti sanctis tuis); may his soul return thither whence it descended ... I loved him, and therefore will I follow him, even unto the land of the living; nor will I leave him until by tears and prayers I shall lead him whither his merits summon him, unto the holy mountain of the Lord" (St. Ambrose, De Obitti Theodosii, 36, 37). "They who come not," he says elsewhere (Enarr., in Ps. i. n. 54), "unto the first resurrection, but are reserved unto the second, these shall burn until they shall complete the time between the first and the second resurrection; or if they shall not have completed it, they shall remain longer in punishment." In a letter of consolation to Pammachius, on the death of his wife Paulina, St. Jerome says, "Other husbands strew violets, roses ... on the graves of their wives, and soothe with these offices the sorrow of their hearts; our Pammachius bedews the hallowed dust and venerable remains of Paulina with balsams of alms. With these pigments and sweet odours does he refresh her slumbering ashes, knowing that it is written, that as water quencheth fire, so do alms extinguish sin" (Ep., Ixvi.). Many extracts might be given from St. Augustine's writings bearing on this subject. "'Lay,' she says [his dying mother, St. Monica], 'this body anywhere; let not the care of it anyway disturb you; this only I ask of you, that you would remember me at the altar of the Lord wherever you be (tantum illud vos rogo, ut ad Domini altare memineritis mei ubi fueritis}.' . . . Neither in those prayers which we poured forth unto thee, when the sacrifice of our ransom was offered for her (cum offerretur pro ea sacrificium pretii nostri), the corpse being placed by the graveside before being deposited therein, as the custom there is, not even in those prayers did I weep (Confess., lib. ix. 27, 32). Writing against those who taught that God would in the end, at the request of His Saints, pardon all men; and having stated that the Church never prays for the lost souls and evil spirits, he adds, "For either the prayer of the Church or of some pious persons is heard in behalf of certain of the departed, but it is in behalf of those whose life, after they had been regenerated in Christ, was not so bad whilst they were in the body as to be accounted not worthy of such a mercy, nor so good as to be found not to need such mercy. So also, after the resurrection of the dead has taken place, there will not be wanting those to whom, after the pains which the spirits of the dead endure, will be granted the mercy that they be not cast into everlasting fire. For it would not be said with truth of some, that it shall not be forgiven them, neither in this world nor in the world to come, unless there were some to whom, though not in this, yet in the (world) to come, remission shall be granted" (De Civ. Dei, xxi. c 24; cf. xx. cc. 9, 25, 26; xxi. cc. 13, 16; De Haeresibus, n. 53).
In the Eastern Church, we find Clement of Alexandria speaking of the fire which sanctifies the sinful souls (Greek), and distinguishing between "the all-devouring fire" and "the discriminating fire which pervades the soul which passes through the fire (Greek)" (Strom., vii. n. 6; ibid., n. 12; vi. n. 14). "We also," says St. Cyril of Jerusalem, "commemorate those who have fallen asleep before us, first patriarchs, prophets, apostles, that God by their prayers and intercessions would receive our petition; then also on behalf of the holy Fathers and bishops who have fallen asleep before us, and of all, in short, who have already fallen asleep from amongst us, believing that it will be a very great assistance to the souls for which the supplication is put up, while the holy and most awful sacrifice lies to open view (Greek)" (Catech. Mystag., v. n. 9). "I now wish, brethren," says St. Ephraem in his Testament (tom. ii. Gr., p. 231), "to forewarn and exhort that after my departure you make a commemoration of me, according to custom in your prayers . . . Do not, I beseech you, bury me with perfumes . . . Give them not to me, but to God; but me that was conceived in sorrows, bury with lamentations; and instead of a sweet odour and perfumes, assist me, I entreat you with your prayers, always remembering me in them. . . . And in your prayers vouchsafe to make the customary oblations for my shortcomings; and when I shall have completed the thirtieth day, make a commemoration of me; for the dead are benefited in oblations of commemoration by the living saints." "It is not fitting that he who has lived to so great an extent in forbidden evils, and he who has been engaged in moderate transgressions should be equally afflicted in the sentence passed on their evil state; but that, according to the quantity of that matter, the painful fire be either for a longer or a shorter time enkindled, according as there may be wherewith to feed it" (St. Gregory of Nyssa, De Anim. et Resurr.1).
1 This work has been suspected of having been interpolated by the Origenists.
St. Epiphanius, writing against the heretic Aerius, maintains that prayer benefits the departed, and that the practice of praying for them has been handed down to the Church by the ancient Fathers (Adv. Haeres., lxxv.). "Not in vain," says St. John Chrysostom, "are oblations made on behalf of the departed; not in vain supplications; not in vain alms (Greek). All these things has the Spirit ordained, wishing us to be aided by each other," etc. (In Act. Apost., Hom., xxi. n. 4; cf. In Matt. Hom., xxxi. n. 4; Hom., xxviii. n. 3; In Ep. i., ad Cor. Hom., xli. nn. 4, 5; In Ep. ad Philipp. Hom., iii. n. 4).
All the ancient Liturgies, without exception, contain prayers and mementos for the dead. (See Faith of Catholics, vol. iii. pp. 201-205.)
3. The existence of Purgatory is also a consequence of two recognized theological principles. The first of these is the distinction between mortal sin and venial sin (see supra, § 156); the other is the distinction between the guilt of mortal sin and the temporal punishment due even after the guilt has been forgiven (p. 475). As we have already pointed out at the beginning of this section, persons dying with venial sin on their souls, or who have not fully paid their debt of temporal punishment, cannot at once enter Heaven (Apoc. xxi. 27), and yet do not deserve Hell. Indeed, it is difficult to reconcile the holiness and mercy and justice of God without maintaining a place of purgation after death.
II. What is the precise nature of the punishment suffered by the souls in Purgatory has not been defined by the Church. Theologians, following the analogy of the doctrine of Hell, have taught that the souls undergo both a pain of loss and a pain of sense. They are, indeed, certain of their salvation, but they suffer from an intense longing to enjoy that Highest Good, which now they appreciate in a way which they could never do while here below (Lessius, The Perfect. Divin., xiii. c. 18). It is also commonly held, at least in the Western Church, that the pain of sense is caused by fire. The text, "He himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire," has been interpreted by many of the Fathers and theologians, both Eastern and Western, as referring to a material fire in Purgatory. See St. Thomas, In iv. Sent., dist. 21, q. I, a. I; St. Bonaventure, Brevil., vii. 2; Bellarmine, De Purgat., i. c. 5, and ii. c. II; Suarez, In. iii. p. 3, disp. 46, sect. 2, n. 12). It should be noted, however, that at the Council of Florence the question was left an open one, whether the souls suffer from fire, or darkness, or storm.
Sect. 284. --Heaven.
The Happiness of Heaven, being the original purpose for which man was created and elevated --"the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" --has already been described in Book III., Part ii., especially
When the twofold sentence of reward and condemnation has been executed, mankind will fulfil their end and object: the happiness of the blessed being the complete manifestation of God's infinite goodness and mercy, while the punishment of the damned is the manifestation of His justice.
"Afterwards the end, when He (Christ) shall have delivered up the kingdom to God and the Father; when He shall have brought to nought all principality and power and virtue (Greek, might) . . . and when all things shall be subdued unto Him, then the Son Himself shall be subject unto Him that put all things under Him, that God may be all in all" (i Cor. xv. 24, 28).
O the depth of the riches of the wisdom
and of the knowledge of God!
How incomprehensible are His judgments
and how unsearchable His ways!
Of Him and by Him and unto Him are all things
TO HIM BE GLORY FOR EVER! AMEN.