St. Edmund Campion Catechism Group - Series 4 Lesson 19

Theology for Beginners: Chp 19. The Next Life
Theology for Beginners: All chapters
Catechism: Q71-76 The Judgement; Q106-109 Purgatory; Q128-134 Heaven
Bible: Mt 5-7 Sermon on the Mount (on Hell); Apoc 21:27 (on Purgatory); I Cor 2:9 " Eye hath not seen" (on Heaven)
Catholic Encyclopedia: Hell; Purgatory; Heaven
Aquinas 101: The Last Things; Will heaven get boring?; Angelic Knowledge & Choice
Summa Theologica: Supplementum Q69-99
Companion to the Summa: Vol IV Chp 19; 20
Liturgy: Athanasian Creed

The Next Life

  1. Death and the Body

    Definition: Death is the separation of the soul from the body.

    This separation occurs when the body falls into such disorder (through age, illness, or accident) that it is no longer capable of being animated by the soul. Once the soul leaves the body, the body, having lost its unifying principle, disagregates. The atoms, molecules, tissue, and organs retain the same physical and chemical properties, but, having no spiritual principle to unite and direct them in the wonderful choregraphy of matter that we witness in a living body, they fall prey to the agents of decay.

    Death is natural to man for he is composed of parts, but by the praeternatural gift of immortality, Adam was preserved from death. This gift, however, was forfeited as a consequence of Original Sin - not only for Adam but for all his offspring. In the present order of salvation death is a punishment for sin. (De fide)

  2. Death and the Soul

    The soul, being immaterial and hence simple cannot disaggregate (fall into corruption). The soul, being a spiritual soul unlike the souls of plants and animals, it does not fall out of existence because it does not depend on a material body for its activities. Acts of the soul's faculties - intellect and will - are purely spiritual acts. The intellect and will might ordinarily use information received from the senses of the body, but not necessarily so (cf. the angels).

    What happens to the soul after death? St. Augustine says that it goes to its proper place. Like a weight that moves to its place of rest, the soul goes where its will by love leads it:

    - If the soul's love is for God, it will go there.

    - If the soul's love is for self, as distinct from God, it will seperate itself from God.

  3. The Particular Judgement

    Immediately after death the eternal destiny of each separated soul is decided by the just judgment of God. (Sententia fidei proxima

    (i) Evidence of Scripture: Ecclesiasticus 1:13, 11:30; Lazarus and the rich man (Lk 16:22); the Good Thief (Lk 23:43).

    (ii) Evidence fron Tradition: Some of the old Fathers (St. Justin, St. Iranaeus, Tertullian, St. Hilary, St. Ambrose) assumed that souls would wait until the Last Judgement to be judged, but St. John Chrysostome, St. Jerome and St. Augustine attested to the Particular Judgement.

    (iii) Teaching of the Magisterium: The doctrine of the Particular Judgement is not explicitely defined, but is implied by the fact that souls go forthwith immediately to heaven or hell or purgatory after death. (Union Councils of Lyon and Florence).


  4. Hell

    Definition & Division:

    Hell (infernus) in theological usage is a place of punishment after death

    Theologians distinguish four meanings of the term hell:

    (i)   hell in the strict sense, is the place of punishment for the damned, be they demons or men;

    (ii)  the limbo of infants (limbus parvulorum), where those who die in original sin alone, and without personal mortal sin, are confined and undergo some kind of punishment;

    (iii) the limbo of the Fathers (limbus patrum), in which the souls of the just who died before Christ awaited their admission to heaven; for in the meantime heaven was closed against them in punishment for the sin of Adam;

    (iv)  purgatory, where the just, who die in venial sin or who still owe a debt of temporal punishment for sin, are cleansed by suffering before their admission to heaven.

    Here is considered hell in the strict sense.

  5. Existence of Hell

    (i)   From Scripture: see the Sermon on the Mount (mentioned at least five times) and in many other places.

    (ii)  From Tradition: the Church professes her faith in the Athanasian Creed: "They that have done good shall go into life everlasting, and they that have done evil into everlasting fire"  and repeatedly throughtout its history in its magisterium.

    (iii) By reason:

    If we abstract from the eternity of its punishment, the existence of hell can be demonstrated even by the light of mere reason.

       (a) In His sanctity and justice as well as in His wisdom, God must avenge the violation of the moral order in such wise as to preserve, at least in general, some proportion between the gravity of sin and the severity of punishment. But it is evident from experience that God does not always do this on earth; therefore He will inflict punishment after death.

       (b) Moreover, if all men were fully convinced that the sinner need fear no kind of punishment after death, moral and social order would be seriously menaced.

  6. Eternity of Hell

    (i)   From Scripture: The Holy Bible is quite explicit in teaching the eternity of the pains of hell. The torments of the damned shall last forever and ever (Apoc 14:1119:320:10). They are everlasting just as are the joys of heaven (Matthew 25:46). Of Judas Christ says: "it were better for him, if that man had not been born" (Matthew 26:24). 

    (ii)  By reason: The damned are confirmed in evil; every act of their will is evil and inspired by hatred of God. The damned can never choose to act out of love of God and virtue.

  7. Pains of Hell

    (i) The pain of loss (poena damni): 

        (a) This consists in the loss of the beatific vision and in so complete a separation of all the powers of the soul from God that it cannot find in Him even the least peace and rest.

        (b) It is accompanied by the loss of all supernatural gifts, e.g. the loss of faith. The characters impressed by the sacraments alone remain to the greater confusion of the bearer.

    The pain of loss is not the mere absence of superior bliss, but it is also a most intense positive pain. The utter void of the soul made for the enjoyment of infinite truth and infinite goodness causes the reprobate immeasurable anguish. 

    (ii) The pain of the senses (poena sensus)

    This consists in the torment of fire so frequently mentioned in Sacred Scripture. According to the greater number of theologians the term fire denotes a material fire, and so a real fire, but different from earthly fire in that (a) it does not consume the body, and (b) it torments the spiritual soul without the body (and the demons).

    The pain of sense is the natural consequence of that inordinate turning to creatures which is involved in every mortal sin.

  8. Errors concerning Hell:

    (i)  Objection: "If God is love, then hell does not exist, and if hell exists, then God is not love."

         Response: God who by definition cannot not be love, told us himself that hell exists (see Sermon on the Mount).

    There is no contradiction between the existence of hell and God being love. Hell is a consequence of an intelligent creature's voluntary seperation from God. Just as God cannot make a square circle, He cannot make life apart from Him agreeable. The mystery of hell is not of God's cruelty but of man's power to hate God.

  9. Purgatory

    What is Purgatory? (Q106) 

    Purgatory is a place where souls suffer for a time after death on account of their sins.


  10. What souls go to purgatory? (Q107)

    Those souls go to purgatory that depart this life in venial sin, or that have not fully paid the debt of temporal punishment due to those sins of which the guilt has been forgiven.

    Those who go before God stained with venial sin: Such souls will not go to hell; only those who die in mortal sin go to hell. But neither will they go straight to heaven. They are saved; but they are defiled by unforgiven venial sin, and nothing defiled shall enter heaven (Apoc. 21:27) into the presence of the All-holy God. He will, therefore, give them an opportunity to expiate that sin somewhere in the next world and of thus reaching heaven sometime. That somewhere is purgatory, which means a place of cleansing.

    Those that have not fully paid the debt of temporal punishment owing for forgiven sin: We must distinguish two things in sin, viz. its guilt and its punishment (eg. If I sinfully smash a window, I am absolved of my guilt when I confess, but I still have to pay for the window).

  11. What is the nature suffering in Purgatory?

    Of the nature of the suffering in Purgatory, surprisingly, we have no revelation (ie. nothing in Scripture or Tradition), but, by reason, there is an analogy with the pains of hell:

    (i)  The pain of loss (poena damni): 

         (a) The first is the soul's realisation of the evil of even venial sin (surpassing any that could possibly be had in this life), still more of the mortal sins which in this life it repented but not sufficiently.

         (b))  The second is the soul's longing for the vision of God, which it may not yet have.

    (ii) The pain of the senses (poena sensus):

    The Latin Fathers, the Schoolmen and many theologians, i view of I Cor 3:15, assume a physical fire. Following in the footsteps of St. 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".

    Purgatory is a place where Calvary's power reaches souls after the grave. The acceptance of suffering is a reversal of the process of sin. For sin is the thrust of one's own will against God's. The total acceptance of God's will at whatever cost to the self brings sure healing.

  12. Heaven

    Definition: Heaven is a place and condition of perfect supernatural bliss, which consists in the immediate vision of God and the perfect love of God associated with it.

    In heaven the just will see God by direct intuition, clearly and distinctly. Here on earth we have no immediate perception of God; we see Him but indirectly in the mirror of creation (see I Cor 13:12). To enable it to see God, the intellect of the blessed is supernaturally perfected by the light of glory (lumen gloriae). This was defined by the Council of Vienne in 1311.

    Although the blessed see God, they do not comprehend Him, because God is absolutely incomprehensible to every created intellect, and He cannot grant to any creature the power of comprehending Him as He comprehends Himself (the finite intellect is not able to take in the Infinite Being).

  13. Perfection of the highest faculty - the intellect

    Just as the knowledge of God by faith is the root of the supernatural life here below, the knowledge of God by sight is its very essence in heaven. We shall see God as He is, see Father, Son and Holy Ghost in the distinctness of Persons. Mystery there will still be, for we shall remain finite, limited, and the finite mind cannot wholly contain the Infinite God. But the mystery, too, will be a cause of bliss.

  14. Perfection of all faculties and the entire being

    The contact of the intellect with God means, of course, contact of the whole soul. The intellect, as we have seen, is not simply a part of the soul, which might be in direct contact with God leaving other parts of the soul out of contact. The soul has no parts; it is, in the sense we have explained, simple. The will too is in direct contact with God, loving Him with nothing between; and this is true of the whole of man's being. Every power in us, in fact, will be working at the fullness of intensity upon God who is the fullness of reality. Here we have the very heart of happiness.

  15. Natural and Supernatural Beatitude

    There is a twofold beatitude: the natural and the supernatural. The supernatural direct intuition granted to the blessed includes all the excellence of natural beatitude which would arise from a perfect analogous perception of God in the mirror of creation. And by granting it He not merely satisfies our natural desire for happiness but He satisfies it in superabundance.

  16. Error concerning heaven

    Objection: "How can I be happy in heaven when my child whom I loved on earth has been damned to hell?"

    Response: When you are in heaven you will see and experience (to the limit of your powers) both the infinite justice and the infinite love of God. You will rejoice in the conformity of your will to His will so that you cannot suffer sadness. It is difficult to imagine, but you will rejoice that justice has been done to your child. The love that you had for your child while you were both alive is no more because your child now definitively rejects God and cannot be loved by God. 



Chapter 1: Why study theology?

- Theology is wisdom which is the knowledge of all things in relation to their highest cause.

- Theology is the greatest of all sciences by the sublimity of its object: God; and by the certitude of its conclusions: the certitude of faith.

- Theology teaches us our finality: the finality of man is the supernatural perfection of all his faculties - the greatest among these are his intellect and will.

- Theology helps us attain our finality in respect of ourselves by the perfect love of God.

- Theology helps us attain our finality in respect of our neighbour: if we love God, then we love everything He loves.

Chapter 2: Spirit

- A spirit is an immaterial intelligent living being (types: God, the angels and the souls of men)

- A soul is defined as the first principle of life of those material things which live (plants, animals and men). Plants, animals and men have souls, but only the souls of men are spirits.

- Properties: a spirit does not change in its being, does not corrupt, does not die (and is therefore eternal), has no mass, no shape, and no place e say that spirits are subsistent, which means that they have all they need to exist - they do not need a body to exist (like a plant or animal soul).

Acts: to know and love. No material organ is required for these activities.

Chapter 3: The Infinite Spirit

God is the Infinite Spirit. 

- God is all knowing, all loving, all powerful

- God is His own existence

- God was not created, He does not change, He has no past and future, God perpeturally in the present.

- God is naturally everywhere: by His essence (per essentiam), by His power (per potentiam), by His knowing (per scientiam)

God is Actus Purus, He cannot ever be in potency to doing anything; He is His action.  St. Thomas says that He is Actus Purus – one , simple, infinite and perfect action which is always in the present.

Chapter 4: The Blessed Trinity

The Blessed Trinity is the term used to express the central doctrine on the Christian religion: the truth that in the unity of the Godhead there are Three Persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, these Three Persons being truly distinct from one another. There is one being, with one nature and there are Three Persons. The Blessed Trinity is known only by revelation, but can subsequently be explored by reason.

Chapter 5: The Three Persons

In an attempt to understand as much as possible about the Blessed Trinity using revelation and our knowledge of the intellect and being (by the science of metaphysics), St. Thomas, building on theologians before him, makes a best attempt to reconcile the unity of God and the distinction of the Three Persons in God. God has one nature by which the Three Persons operate. The distinction of the Three Persons is discerned in the mutually opposed relations resulting from the act of God knowing Himself and loving Himself. The Persons, are distinguished as the subsistant relations or Paternity, Filiation and Passive Spiration.

Most of us, however, do not have a sufficient grasp of metaphysics to understand this complex theory and so a simpler one is proposed: In the act of knowing Himself, God generates a mental Word which is identical to the Generator. In the generator we discern the Father, in the generated, we discern the Son. These are Persons Who will naturally love each other, this love being personified in the Holy Ghost

Chapter 6Making the doctrine of the Trinity a living and loved reality

For most people something like that happens when they embrace a mystery of the faith revealed to them by the Church:

 - first there is an intellectual response as they grasp the theological exposition of the mystery

 - then a vital response as the wonder and beauty of the mystery draws the observer in

 - then a loving response as the mystery becomes a light and a power in our lives.

Chapter 7: Creation

God created all things from nothing and sustains all things in existence from moment to moment - all for His glory. 

Chapter 8: The nature of man

Man is made in the image and likeness of God, possessing an intellect and a will. He is different from the animals because he loves the things he knows whereas animals are attracted to the thing they sense; and he can choose what to love whereas animals are attracted to things by nature. Man is capable of moral good or evil, whereas animals always act according to their nature. The ultimate purpose of man is to know and love God. The ultimate purpose of non-intelligent creatures is to adorn creation for the glory of God.

Chapter 9: The Supernatural Life

Man is made for the Beatific Vision (that perfect possesion of God in heaven) but with his fallen nature he is radically incapable both of attaining this end and remaining in this state of perfect happiness. By sanctifying grace, man begins a supernatural life here below. He is transformed by grace and receives supernatural virtues and the Gift of the Holy Ghost with grace. He begins to live and act with the life and actions of God. He enters on to the path to heaven and progresses towards it. If he die in a state of grace, then the supernatural life within him is perfected to the point of perfect bliss in union with God.

Chapter 10: The Fall

Despite sanctifying grace, supernatural virtues, Gifts of the Holy Ghost, and the praternatural gifts, Adam fell for the temptation to become like God. This was the sin of pride. He was left bereft of everything supernatural and praeternatural, and therefore incapble of attaining that for which he was made: the Beatific Vision. The act against the injunction of God is called Original Sin, the consequence of this act (the deprivation of grace and gifts) is also called Original Sin. The Divine Will ordained that the Original Sin (consequence) be suffered by all the offspring of Adam. 

Chapter 11: The Redeemer

Jesus Christ is the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity Who operates through a divine nature as God, and through a human nature as man. The two natures are hypostatically united in the Person which allow him to act as a man but with acts of infinite value because His Person is divine. By taking to himself his human nature at the Incarnation, Jesus Christ was able to redeem mankind.

Chapter 12: The Redemption

The Redemption is the (a) freeing of man from the debt (in justice to God) of sin, and (b) the restoration of man's supernatural union with God. Our Lord Jesus Christ objectively redeemed all mankind by His Incarnation, Life, Passion & Death, Resurrection and Ascension into heaven. It is for man to participate in this act of redemption by living a life of faith, hope and charity through the means that the Church provides (teaching, laws and liturgy). Such a life constitutes mans subjective redemption.

Chapter 13: The Visible Church

The visible Church is a hierarchy of baptised souls united under one head (Jesus Christ) who adhere to the teaching of the Church, submit to the authority of the Church, and worship God with the liturgy of the Church. Members of the visible Church may be living members (when they are in a state of sanctifying grace) or dead members (when they are in mortal sin).

Chapter 14: The Mystical Body of Christ

The Church binds chosen men and angels together into one body, but unlike any other union in the universe, the reason of unity is above the order of nature, and immeasurably more intimate - it is the unity of living the same Life. Every living member of the Church lives by participating in the Divine Life (by sanctifying grace). Inevitable with this unity of Life, there is a unity of love and obedience and intention, but these are consequences rather than causes of unity. The unity by grace is called the Mystical Body of Christ.

Chapter 15: The Mother of God

Mary is called the Mother of God because she is the mother of Jesus Christ according to His human nature. Jesus Christ is God, therefore, Mary is the Mother of God. For this reason she was preserved from Original Sin at her conception, preserved from corruption at the end of her earthly life, and assumed body and soul into heaven. She is given the title of Co-Redemptorix on account of the closeness of her participation in the act of Redemption; she is called Mediatrix of all grace on account of her divine motherhood and her uniquely privilged role as intercessor with her Son.

Chapter 16.1 Grace, virtues and gifts

To share in God's perfection, to be inclined towards God, and to know & love God, we must become co-natural with God so that we share in His being, powers, and actions. We share in His being by sanctifying grace; we share in his power by supernaturalised faculties; and we share in His actions by acts of supernatural virtue or acts impelled by the Gifts of the Holy Ghost.

Chapter 16.2 How Grace is lost.

The supernatural life of grace is lost by Original Sin and Mortal Sin. Sin is an offence against God by any thought, word, deed, or omission against the law of God. Sin may be Original Sin or Actual Sin. Original Sin as an act was committed by Adam, but in its effects (absence of grace & praeternatural gifts, wounded human nature) it affects every man at the moment of conception (except the Blessed Virgin Mary). Actual sin is an act committed by any man. Actual sin may be Mortal Sin of Venial Sin. A Mortal Sin is an act of total rebellion against God (like declaring war against a state). A Venial Sin is breaking a law of God without breaking allegiance to God (like breaking the speed limit of a state).

Chapter 16.3 Conscience

Conscience is the intellect’s determination of how to act in light of its knowledge of general moral principles, whether applied consciously or just as a matter of habit. It is not an emotion. Neither is it a perception or a special faculty. It is just an act of the intellect. We should always follow a true conscience and an invincibly ignorant erroneous conscience. We should not follow an otherwise erroneous conscience (vincibly ignorant, scrupulous, perplex, lax or pharasaical).

Chapter 17  The Sacraments

Definition: Q249. A sacrament is an outward sign of inward grace ordained by Jesus Christ, by which grace is given to our souls. Overview. Detail 

Chapter 18 Mass & the Eucharist

The Mass is the perfect of prayer: A sacrifice in which God offers God to God. It is a commemoration and a re-presentation of the bloody sacrifice of Calvary; it is also a means by which its merits can be applied to souls by permitting faithful to a participate in the same Sacrifice and by their receiving the Eucharist. The Eucharist is the Body. Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ. It is the greatest sacrament to which all the others are ordered.