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Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Heaven, Hell, Purgatory and Time--Part Three Heaven

2 Peter 3:10-13

10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and everything that is done on it will be disclosed.[a]
11 Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, what sort of persons ought you to be in leading lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening[b] the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set ablaze and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire? 13 But, in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home.

Sadly, there is a lot of confusion on the Net, because of the myriad Protestant sites concerning the rapture, which is a heresy.

Catholics need to confine themselves to the ideas of the Second Coming and heaven to solid theologians and Church teaching throughout the ages.

The question as to time, especially the time between the particular judgment and the last judgment, was asked by a reader. Before answering this, one must considered what the soul, as separated from the body, knows or perceives. The separated soul has many abilities based on the time used on earth, as the intellectual or higher faculties remain but the senses are changed, as the soul does not have the body.

Garrigou-Lagrange writes this:

To have a just idea of the future life in general we must first see what theology teaches on the knowledge possessed by the soul separated from its body, the soul which no longer has the use of its senses, not even of imagination. Next, we study the state of the will, illumined by this new knowledge beyond the tomb.

We have said above [174] that the soul begins to be fixed either in good or evil by the last voluntary act, meritorious or demeritorious, which it makes at the very moment when it separates from the body. We have said further, that it completes this fixation by the act of the will which it produces at that precise instant where the state of separation begins. Then, since everyone judges according to his inclination, the humble soul continues to judge and will conformably to humility during its state of separation, whereas the proud man who has died in final impenitence continues to judge and to will according to his pride.

This fixity, either in good or in evil, is mysterious. But this mysteriousness is not without an analogue in facts which we meet with in the present life. The disposition wherewith we enter upon a permanent state often lasts throughout the entire duration of that state. The infant born into good surroundings has promise of lasting good health, whereas the child born into poor surroundings may anticipate feeble health. Again, he who with Christian motives enters marriage has good hopes of perseverance, whereas he who enters with an evil intention will not be blessed by God in this state, unless he is converted. He who enters religion for a good purpose ordinarily perseveres, whereas he who enters for an evil motive does not persevere, and has no profit from the religious life. These examples, in a way, illustrate the fixity of the soul after death, a fixation which is affirmed by revelation. [175]

The topic we now turn to, namely, the knowledge in the separated soul, will confirm this doctrine. It is immutability in knowledge that is the source of the immutability which is characteristic of the state of separation.

The central principle is this: Human intelligence, though it is the lowest of all intelligences, is nevertheless a genuine intelligence, an immaterial and spiritual power. [176]

Preternatural Knowledge

The separated soul, since it no longer has its body, no longer has sense operations, internal or external, because all these are operations of an animated organ. The separated soul retains the sensitive faculties, but only radically, since they do not exist actually anywhere except in the human composite. The human imagination, like the animal imagination, does not exist actually after the corruption of its material organ. The same holds good for the habitudes of the sense faculties. Remembrances of the sensitive memory do not exist actually in the separated soul. The separated soul can no longer see in the sense order, no longer imagine in the sense order.

But the separated soul does retain actually its higher faculties, its purely spiritual faculties, namely, intellect and will and the habits which are found in these faculties. But here we must draw a distinction. Reprobated souls can retain certain acquired sciences, but do not have virtues, either acquired or infused. They have lost infused faith and infused hope. But the souls in purgatory preserve their knowledge and their virtues, acquired or infused: faith, hope, charity, prudence, religion, patience, justice, humility. This truth is very important.

Similarly the separated soul preserves the habits which have remained in these faculties. Nevertheless the exercise of these acts is in part impeded, because these faculties have no longer the aid of the imagination or sense memory, an aid which is most helpful. What, for instance, would be a preacher who would no longer have the use of imagination in the service of his intelligence?

Theologians, generally, teach that the mode of being of the separated soul is preternatural, because the soul is made to animate its body. Hence it has also a preternatural mode of action, which it receives from God at the moment of separation, a mode consisting in infused ideas, similar to those of the angels, ideas which can serve it without the aid of the imagination. [177] Thus, to illustrate, a theologian who has become blind, and is no longer able to read, becomes a man of prayer and receives higher inspirations. It may be that formerly he worked too much and prayed too little. Now he consecrates himself to interior prayer and thereby becomes a better theologian.

But from this notion of infused ideas received by the separated soul there arises another difficulty, quite different from the preceding. Whereas the use of abstract and acquired ideas is difficult without the imagination, the use of infused ideas is difficult because they are too high for the natural intelligence, which is the lowest of intelligences and has as its proportioned object the lowest intelligible object, namely, sense objects. These infused ideas are too elevated, just as metaphysical conceptions are too high for an unprepared spirit, or as a giant's armor is too heavy for a young fighter. David preferred his sling to the armor of Goliath.

These deficiencies are balanced by perfections. First, the soul sees itself intuitively, as does the angel. [178] Consequently it clearly sees its spirituality, its immortality, its liberty. Further it sees in itself, as in a mirror, with perfect certitude, God, its Author and Creator. It answers the great philosophical problems with perfect clarity. St. Thomas says: "The soul in a certain real sense is thus more free to understand." Thus separated souls naturally know one another, although less perfectly than do the angels.

Can the separated soul know, not only universal truths, but also concrete facts? Yes, where it has special ties of family, friendship, and grace. Local distance is no impediment in this kind of knowledge, since it does not arise from sense but from infused ideas. [179] Thus a good Christian mother may recall in purgatory the children whom she has left on earth.

Finally, we are getting to the question at hand. Those souls in heaven have a different knowledge than those in purgatory. This knowledge is not only from merit, but infused.

Do these souls know what is happening on earth? St. Thomas replies: "In the natural order they do not know, because they are separated from the society of those who are still on the road to eternity. Nevertheless, if we restrict the question to the souls of the blessed, it is more probable to say that they, like the angels, do know what happens on earth, particularly what happens to those who are dear to them. This is a part of their accidental beatitude." [180] Those in purgatory too can have love of us, even though they do not know our actual state, just as we pray for them, although we do not know their actual state, their nearness, for example, to deliverance.

I return to the question of time

Here is Garrigou-Lagrange on this matter again, from a different perspective:

In beatified souls there is added to this double duration (eviternity and discontinuous time) also that of participated eternity, which measures their beatific vision of the divine essence and the love which results from this vision. This is one unique instant, an immovable eternity, entirely without succession. Yet this participated eternity differs from that of essential eternity which is proper to God, just as effect differs from cause. Participated eternity had a beginning. Further, the essential eternity of God measures everything that is in God, His essence, and all His operations, whereas participated eternity measures only the beatific vision and the love which follows. Eternity is like the invisible point at the summit of a cone, whereas continuous time is pictured by the base of this cone. Eviternity and discontinuous time are between these two, the one like a circular conic section, and the other like a polygon inscribed in this circular section.

So, what do the souls in heaven know about time on earth? 

What God wants them to know is the answer. They are not yet in the perfection which will come at the joining of the bodies and souls together in bliss at the Second Coming, but they are "living" out of time, but without their bodies, at least to this present day, as Christ has not returned in glory and the world continues on.

But, remember the Present Moment? When one is wrapped up with God, time no longer is the same as successive time, or solar time, which of course, does not affect heaven. Time is always present.

If time is always present in heaven, then one can extrapolate that the joining of the body and soul happens within that Present Moment in some mysterious way. 

That the Second Coming, with the resurrection of the bodies of all humans, is in time, one must recognize that on this point, and this point alone, the souls in heaven, too, await this joining of their complete humanity body and soul.

Waiting indicates time, but to put this time in to the format of solar time would be a huge error.

Heaven is eternal and in that eternity, the souls of the just await the Second Coming, but not in the time frame which we do. 

When Christ appeared in glory at the Transfiguration, He was seen with Moses and Elijah in glory, two saints whose bodies were already in glory. Mary is in glory with her assumed body. Perhaps, Enoch, who walked into heaven is another in glory with his body. Other than that, we can assume there is some sort of "waiting" outside of time.

More on this later.