"God commands not impossibilities, but by commanding he suggests to you to do what you can, to ask for what is beyond your strength; and he helps you, that you may be able."

St Augustine

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"If you wish to learn and appreciate something worth while, then love to be unknown and considered as nothing. Truly to know and despise self is the best and most perfect counsel."

Thomas á Kempis

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"Does our conduct correspond with our Faith?"

The Cure D'Ars

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Fr Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P.  (1877 - 1964)  taught at the Angelicum in Rome from 1909 to 1960, and served for many years as a consulter to the Holy Office and other Roman Congregations.


By Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange,OP


 PART 5 : HEAVEN (cont)



We have spoken of essential beatitude, which consists in the immediate vision of God and in the love which flows from this vision. But the Lord, so rich in mercy for His elect, adds to essential beatitude a joy in created good, a joy which corresponds to their aspirations. This is what we call accidental beatitude.

This accidental beatitude is found in the society of friends: in general joy at the good deeds done on earth: in the special recompense given to certain classes, the halo of virgins, for example, of doctors, and of martyrs: in the resurrection and in the qualities of the glorious body.

Accidental Beatitude in the Soul

In regard to those whom they have known and loved on earth, the saints receive, besides the beatific vision in Verbo, also new knowledge extra Verbum. It is an accidental joy to learn, for example, of the spiritual progress, of their friends on earth, to see them entering heaven. This knowledge extra Verbum, is inferior to the beatific vision. Hence some call it the evening vision, contrasted with the morning vision which sees created things in God. [614]

Further, each soul is happy to be honored by God, by the friends of God, especially by those who shine by wisdom. [615] Each has a special joy in seeing his own good recognized and appreciated, good which he accomplished on earth in the midst of great difficulties.

Special recompense will be given for victories gained against the flesh, the world, and the devil: the halo of virgins, for victory against the concupiscence of the flesh: the halo of the martyrs for victory over persecutors: the halo of doctors for victory over ignorance, errors, infidelity, heresy, over the spirit of division and negation. This halo belongs, not only to those who have publicly taught sacred science, by word or by pen, but also to those who have taught in private fashion when occasion presented itself. [616] "They that instruct many to justice shall shine as stars for all eternity." [617] This halo belongs, first to the spirit, then, after the resurrection, to the body, just as the essential glory of the soul is reflected in the body raised from the dead.

Resurrection of the Flesh

To accidental beatitude belongs also the resurrection of the body and the characteristics of the glorified body. [618] The resurrection is a dogma of faith. It was denied by the Sadducees, the Manicheans, the Albigensians, the Socinians, and is denied today by rationalists.

We must say first: If a good number of those who died (e.g., Lazarus and the son of the widow of Naim) were recalled to life by our Lord, and later by the apostles and other saints, what can hinder our immortal soul, made by nature to inform and vivify its body, from being reunited forever to that body, though in different degrees of merit and demerit?

This revealed truth, defined by the Church, [619] is supported by numerous Scripture texts. The Fourth Council of the Lateran gave this definition: All will arise, each with his own body which he had upon earth, to receive what each has merited, according as his works were good or bad.

The universal resurrection, then, is of faith. This resurrection requires at least that there be essential identity between the risen body and the body which the soul had while it was still in union with the body. According to certain writers [620] this suffices, because the soul, being a substantial form, gives to the body its specific life, even the actuality which we call corporeity. Nevertheless theologians hold commonly, with St. Thomas, that it must also be individually the same body, that is to say, it must contain at least a part of the matter which was formerly in that body. Otherwise how could we say that each one will rise in his own body which he had on earth? How could we say that this individual body rises from the dead? [621] St. Paul says: "For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality." [622] The Catechism of the Council of Trent speaks as follows: "Each of us will rise with the body which we had on earth, which was corrupted in the tomb, and reduced to dust." [623] This is the uniform testimony both of Scripture and of tradition.

In the book of Job we read: "I shall be clothed again with my skin, and in my flesh I shall see my God; whom I myself shall see, and my eyes shall behold, and not another." [624] Isaias says: "Thy dead men shall live, my slain shall rise again! Awake and give praise, ye that dwell in the dust." [625] Daniel speaks as follows: "Many of those that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some unto life everlasting, and others unto reproach." [626] In the Second Book of Machabees, one of the martyrs says to his judge: "Thou indeed, O most wicked man, destroyest us out of this present life, but the King of the world will raise us up, who die for His laws, in the resurrection of eternal life." [627]

Jesus defends the resurrection against the Sadducees. "Fear ye not them that kill the body and are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear Him that can destroy both soul and body in hell." [628] Again: "Concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read that which was spoken by God saying to you: I am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead but of the living." [629]

In the Gospel of St. John our Lord is still more explicit: "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." [630] Again: "He that eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood hath everlasting life, and I will raise him up in the last day." [631]

St. Paul [632] proves the possibility of the resurrection by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. "If the dead rise not again, neither is Christ risen again, and if Christ be not risen again, your faith is vain, for you are yet in your sins." "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 all shall be made alive, but everyone in his own order, . . . and the enemy, death, shall be destroyed last." [633] St. Paul announces the same mystery to the Athenians, [634] to the Governor Felix, [635] to the Thessalonians. [636]

The Fathers of the second century speak explicitly of this dogma. [637] Martyrs proclaim it at their death. [638]

Reason cannot give a demonstrative proof of this truth, but it can give high reasons of appropriateness. These reasons are thus expressed by the Catechism of the Council of Trent: "The first is that our souls, which are only a part of ourselves, are immortal, and retain forever their natural inclination to union with the body." [639] Hence it seems contrary to nature that they should forever remain separated from their bodies. Now that which is contrary to nature is in a state of violence and cannot last long. Hence it is very appropriate that the soul be united to its body again and that the body be raised to life. [640] The soul is naturally the form of the body, hence it groans at the
idea of separation. Therefore it should not be deprived forever of this body. [641]

A second reason is found in the infinite justice of God, who has established punishments for the wicked and rewards for the good. Hence it is appropriate that the souls be reunited to their bodies in order that these bodies, which have been instruments, whether of good or of evil, partake with the soul in the awards and punishments deserved. This thought was developed by St. John Chrysostom [642] in a homily to the people of Antioch.

In the case of the wicked the body has taken part in deeds of iniquity, in criminal voluptuousness. In the case of the good the body has been in the service of the soul in the accomplishment of good works, sometimes heroic works, in devotion, in the apostolate, in martyrdom. Further, the bodies of the just are temples of the Holy Spirit, as St. Paul says. Hence the resurrection of the body is highly appropriate, that the soul may lack nothing in its state of felicity. Here we see, together with the justice of God, also His wisdom and His goodness.

A third reason is drawn from the victory of Christ over sin and the devil, which victory consequently triumphs over death which is a consequence of sin. He won this victory over death by His own resurrection and by that of His Blessed Mother. Hence it is appropriate, since He is to be the Savior of humanity, body and soul, that He win also the definitive victory over death by universal resurrection.

The Catechism of the Council of Trent speaks thus: "O wonderful restoration of our nature, for which we are indebted to the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ over death ! " [643] Holy Scripture is explicit on this point: "He shall cast death down headlong forever." [644] Osee says: "O death, I will be thy death." [645] St. Paul explaining this last word fears not to say that, after all the other enemies, death itself will be destroyed. [646]

We read in St. John: "Death shall be no more." [647] It is supremely appropriate that the merits of Jesus Christ, which destroyed the empire of death, be infinitely more efficacious than the sin of Adam. [648]

The Qualities of the Glorious Body

St. Paul speaks thus: "One is the glory of the celestial bodies and another of the terrestrial: one is the glory of the sun, another the glory of the moon, and another the glory of the stars, for star differs
from star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption, it shall rise in incorruption; it is sown in dishonor, it shall rise in glory; it is sown in weakness, it shall rise in power; it is sown a natural body, it shall rise a spiritual body." [649]

Following this doctrine, theologians distinguish four chief qualities in the glorified body:
  • impassibility,
  • subtility,
  • agility, and
  • clarity.

Impassibility is the gift which preserves not only from death, but also from pain. [650] It arises from the perfect submission of the body to the soul. [651]

Agility delivers bodies from the heaviness which weighs down the present life. The risen body can go where the soul pleases, with a swiftness and ease which St. Jerome [652] compares to that of the eagle.

Subtility renders the body capable of penetrating other bodies without difficulty. Thus the glorious body of the risen Christ entered the Cenacle though the doors were closed. [653]

Clarity gives to the body of the saints that brightness, that splendor, which is the very essence of the beautiful. Our Lord [654] says: "Then shall the just shine as the sun in the kingdom of their father." To give an idea of this quality, He was transfigured before His apostles on Thabor. [655] St. Paul says: "Jesus Christ will reform the body of our lowness, made like to the body of His glory." [656] The Israelites in the desert [657] saw an image of this glory on the forehead of Moses, after He had seen God and received God's words. He was so luminous that their eyes could not endure the splendor.

This clarity is but a reflection, an overflowing, of the glory of the soul on that of the body. [658] Hence the bodies of the saints will not all have the same degree of clarity, but each will have the degree proportioned to its light of glory. Thus St. Paul says: "Star differeth from star in glory, so also is the resurrection of the dead." [659]

Lastly, our senses will find a pure and ineffable joy in the humanity of Jesus, the Blessed Virgin, the choir of the saints, the beauties of the renovated world, the chants of adoration and thanksgiving in the city of God. Such will be the accidental beatitude of heaven after the renovation of the world. [660]

What fruits follow on the knowledge of this mystery to which nature gives us no right to aspire? The Lord has deigned to reveal these things to the little ones, whereas He has hidden them from the wise and prudent. [661] The first fruit is thankgiving. Second, the control of passion in the service of a holy life, such a life as the Lord expects from us in our own particular conditions. Third, consolation in seeing our dear ones die. Lastly, courage in suffering. Job consoled himself by the hope of seeing the Lord, his God, on the day of resurrection. [662] The splendor which appears at times on the face of saints, e.g., of St. Dominic and St. Francis, is the prelude to the brightness of eternity. [663]


614. Between these two kinds of knowledge, as we have said, we find a great difference, just as we find a similar difference between the knowledge of a psychologist based on words and writings and the other kind of knowledge possessed by a holy director, like St. Francis de Sales.
615. Ps. 138:17.
616.  Dan. 12:3.
617. Supplementum q. 96, a. 5.
618. Ibid., 75-86.
619. Catechism of the Council of Trent, First Part, chap. 12; IV Council of the Lateran., Denz. no. 429.
620. Thus Durandus, who is followed by some modern authors.
621. Supplementum, q. 79, a. 1, 2, 3. From the Four Books of Sentences, dist. 44, q. 1, a. 1: "If the soul does not resume the same body, we could not speak of resurrection; we would speak rather of the assumption of a new body." A. 2. "Numerically the same man must rise; and this comes to pass, since it is one and the same individual soul which is united to one and the same numerical body. Otherwise we would not have resurrection." Cf. ibid., a. 3. Also Contra Gentes, Bk. IV, chap. 80; also Tabula aurea, "Resurrectio," nos. 11, 12. Also Hugon, Tractatus dogmatici, De novissimis, p. 470. Nevertheless, just as our organism without losing its identity is renewed by assimilation and disassimilation, it seems sufficient that any part of the matter which once belonged to our body would be reanimated in the risen body. Hence St. Thomas (Contra Gentes, Bk. IV, chap. 81) replies to the ordinary objections on this point. Cannibals do eat human flesh, but human flesh is not their only food. Plants in a cemetery do assimilate matter taken from corpses, but the matter of these plants does not come exclusively from corpses. Cf. Herve, Manuale theologiae dogmaticae, IV, no. 636. Nor is it impossible for infinite wisdom and omnipotence to recover the matter of a body which has disappeared. Cf. Monsabre, Conferences de Notre Dame, La resurrection (1889), pp. 218 ff.
622. I Cor. 15:53.
623. Part I, chap. 12.
624. Job. 19:25, 27.
625. Isa. 26:19.
626. Dan 12:2.
627. II Mach. 7:9.
628. Matt. 5:29-30; 10:28.
629. Ibid., 22:23-32.
630. John 5:29.
631. Ibid., 6:54.
632. I Cor. 15:17.
633. Ibid., 15:21-27.
634. Acts 17:31-32.
635. Ibid., 24:15, 21.
636. I Thess. 4:17.
637. Athenagoras, Theophilus of Antioch, and Tertullian speak at length on this point. Also St. John Chrysostom, St. Augustine, and St. Gregory. See Enchir. patr. Index theologicus, nos. 598-600. "The dead will rise, all the dead, each with the body they had on earth."
638. Ruinart, Acta martyrum, p. 70.
639. Our intelligence, the lowest of all intelligences, has as proper object intelligible truth known as in a mirror in sense things. Hence normally it has need of the imagination, and the imagination cannot exist actually without a corporeal organ.
640. Contra Gentes, Bk. IV, chap. 79.
641. What we are here saying refutes metempsychosis, according to which the human soul would pass from one body to another, either into the body of a beast or into another human body. This is impossible because the human soul has an essential relation to this individual human body and not to the body of a beast. Thus the separated souls remain individual, each by its relation to its own body.
642. Homilies, 49, 50.
643. Catechism of the Council of Trent, Part 1, chap. 12.
644. Isa. 25 :8.
645. Osee 13:14.
646. I Cor. 15:26.
647. Apoc. 21:4.
648. Heb. 2:14.
649. I Cor. 15:42.
650. Supplementum, q. 83, a. 1, q. 84, 85.
651. De civ, Dei, Bk. XI, chap. 10.
652. Commentary on Isaias, chap. 40.
653. Supplementum, q. 83.
654. Matt. 13:43.
655. Ibid., 17:12.
656. Phil. 3:21.
657. Exod. 34:20.
658. Supplementum, q. 85, a. 1.
659. I Cor. 15:41.
660. Isa. 65:17 announces a new heaven and a new earth. The Apocalypse 21:1 repeats the same truth. The second epistle of St. Peter 3:10 explains the phrase: "The day of the Lord will come like a thief. In these days the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, the elements will be dissolved, and the earth will be consumed with all the works which it encloses. We expect, according to the promise, a new heaven and a new earth where justice dwells." Cf. Monsabre, Conferences de Notre Dame, no. 101.
661. Matt. 11:26.
662. Job 19 :26.
663. Heretics, wishing to kill St. Dominic, waited for him on a road where he was to pass. But when he came near, such a brilliant light illuminated his features that they did not dare to touch him. This light was the sensible radiation of the contemplation which united him to God. With him was saved also the order which he intended to found.