Jacques Maritain Center : Catechism of the Summa Theologica



Has the penitent a part in the effect of this sacrament?

Yes, because the acts he performs are part of the sacrament itself (XC. 1).

In what way do the acts of the penitent form a part of this sacrament?

The acts of the penitent make part of the sacrament of Penance, because in this sacrament the acts of the minister give the form whilst those of the penitent constitute the matter (XC. 1).

What are these acts of the penitent which constitute the matter of this sacrament?

They are contrition, confession, and satisfaction (XC. 2).

Why are these three acts required as the matter of the sacrament of Penance?

Because it is the sacrament of reconciliation between a sinner and God. But in a reconciliation of this nature, the sinner must give to God some compensation which is pleasing to Him in such wise that the sin is pardoned and its effect blotted out. For this three things are necessary: (1) That the sinner have the will to offer that compensation such as it pleases God to determine; (2) that he come to the priest who stands in the place of God to receive the conditions of this compensation; (3) that he offer the compensation and acquit himself thereof faithfully. These three things are fulfilled by contrition, confession, and satisfaction (XC. 2).

Can the sacrament of Penance exist without one or other of these parts?

It cannot exist without a certain exterior manifestation of these different parts; but it can exist without the interior reality of contrition or without the fulfilling of the satisfaction; but in either case the virtue of the sacrament is hindered or paralyzed (XC. 3).


What is meant by contrition?

It is that sorrow, of the supernatural order, which the sinner has in thinking of the sins he has committed; thereon he resolves to go to the priest, the minister of God, in order to confess them and to receive some penalty in satisfaction which he resolves to perform faithfully (Supplement, I. 1).

What is necessary for this sorrow to be supernatural?

In order to be supernatural it is necessary for this sorrow to be caused by some motive which refers to the order of grace; this motive may commence with the fear of punishment with which, as one knows by faith, God threatens the sinner; so with the hope of obtaining pardon one does penance, whereby one comes to detest the sin in itself which threatens death to the soul, or at least in so far as it is contrary to one's supernatural good and perfect life, and above all, by reason that it offends God, the supreme object of our love (I. 1, 2).

If one detest sin for the sole reason of the punishment which God will inflict for sin either in this life or the next, would one have contrition?

No, for to have contrition it is necessary to detest sin because of the evil it does the soul; this evil is the loss of God, who can be possessed by us in this life through grace, and in the next life by glory (I. 2).

What then is that sorrow called which consists in detesting sin only because of the fear of punishment?

It is called attrition (I. 2, Obj. 2).

What then is the precise difference between attrition and contrition?

The first is sorrow for sin caused by a motive of servile fear; whereas contrition is caused by a motive of filial fear or of the pure love of God (I. 2).

Does attrition suffice in order to obtain pardon of one's sins in the sacrament of Penance?

With attrition one may approach the sacrament of Penance; at the moment, however, of receiving the grace of the sacrament by the absolution of the priest, this attrition is succeeded in the soul by contrition (I. 3).

Must contrition be directed to all sins committed?

Yes, and in particular at the beginning of the movement of sorrow for sins, especially if the sins be mortal; but at the end of this movement of sorrow it is sufficient that sorrow be directed in a general way towards the sins committed by detesting sin as an offence against God (II. 3,6).


How may one make an act of contrition?

In this wise: "O my God, I am sorry from the bottom of my heart for having committed many sins which deserve to be severely punished by Thee; my sins have taken away Thy grace from me because they have wronged Thine infinite goodness. Have mercy on me and deign to pardon me; give me once more Thy holy grace that I may live and grow therein until the day of my death. Willingly I accept from Thy hands all the pains and the sufferings Thou hast destined for me; and I unite them with the sufferings and death of my beloved Saviour Jesus Christ in expiation of my sins, so that I may never be separated from Thee again."


What must the sinner do after having conceived sorrow for his sins, whether this sorrow be attrition or contrition?

He must go to the priest and confess his sins (VI. 1-5).

When does the Church oblige one to confess?

For all the faithful once a year, at Easter time by preference, by reason of the Easter communion which no one may receive if he have mortal sin on his soul (VI. 5; Code, Canon 906).

Why is confession necessary in order to receive the sacrament of Penance?

Because it is only by confession that the penitent can make known his sins to the priest, whose duty it is to judge whether the penitent is worthy to receive absolution, and to impose some Penance as satisfaction for the sins committed, in order that a just compensation might be offered to God for the renewal of His grace (VI. 1).

What does confession entail for the sacrament to be valid?

As far as possible the sinner must make known to the priest in detail the number and the species of mortal sins committed; and he must confess them with a view to obtaining the sacramental absolution from the priest (IX. 2).

If at the moment of self-accusation the sinner lack both contrition and attrition for his sins, does the absolution given by the priest remit the sins?

No, they are not remitted; but they would be confessed, and there would be no need of repeating them to the priest again in order for them to be remitted by the virtue of the sacrament; it is sufficient for the sinner to conceive contrition for them and to accuse himself in his next confession of the want of contrition in his preceding confession (IX. 1).

If one has forgotten to confess some mortal sin in confession, and afterwards one remembers, is one bound to confess this sin in the next confession?

Yes, because every mortal sin must be submitted directly to the power of the keys (IX. 2).

In what capacity does the priest receive the confession of the sinner?

He receives it in the name and in the place of God Himself; and this in such wise that in his life as man, and outside his ministry as confessor, he knows nothing whatever of the sins confessed to him (XI. 1).


After the confession what must the penitent do?

He must with the greatest care perform the Penance imposed upon him by the priest in the name of God (XII. 1, 3).

What are the different kinds of Penances one may perform in satisfaction for sin?

They all come under these three good works: almsgiving, fasting, and prayer. Indeed, for satisfaction's sake, we should deprive ourselves of something in order to offer it to God in His honour. Now there are three sorts of goods which we can thus offer to God: the goods of our fortune; the goods of the body; and the goods of the soul. The offerings of the first come under the name of almsgiving; of the second under the general name of fasting; and of the third under the general name of prayer (XV. 3).

If one does not perform the Penance imposed by the priest, does one lose the grace of the sacrament?

No, unless one voluntarily omits it through contempt; but if it come about by forgetfulness or by negligence, the grace of remission in the sacrament endures; but always, in justice to God, the penalty due to the sin must be paid either in this or in the next world; moreover, the grace of the sacrament does not receive that increase attaching to the performance of the sacramental Penance (Third Part, XC. 2, Obj. 2).



What is meant by the power of the keys?

It is nothing more than that power which opens the gate of heaven by removing an obstacle which prevents entrance thereto, namely sin and the punishment due to sin (XVII. 1).

Where is this power?

First of all it is in the Holy Trinity as in its primary source; then in the sacred humanity of Jesus Christ, by the merit of whose Passion the twofold obstacle above mentioned was removed, and which also by its own power removes this obstacle; also because the efficacy of the Passion of Jesus Christ lives in the sacraments, which are channels, as it were, of His grace by which men participate in all its merits. It follows then that the ministers of the Church, who are the dispensers of the sacraments, have also the power of the keys which they have received from Christ Himself (XVII. 1).


In what way is the power of the keys exercised in the sacrament of Penance?

It is exercised by the act of the priest judging the state or the dispositions of the sinner, and in giving him absolution and a penance; or in refusing him this absolution (XVII. 2).

Is it at the moment that the priest gives absolution, and is it by virtue of this absolution that the effect of this sacrament is produced, namely the remission of sins?

Yes; and without this absolution there would be no sacrament, nor would there be deliverance from sin (X. 1, 2; XVIII. 1).

Have priests only the power of the keys?

Only priests validly ordained according to the rite of the Catholic Church have this power (XIX. 3).

Is it sufficient for a priest to be validly ordained in order to have this power of the keys over any baptized person who wishes to receive the sacrament of Penance?

No; it is also necessary for him to be approved by the Church in order to hear confessions, and also that the person who desires the sacrament of Penance be under his jurisdiction (XX. 1-3).

Has every priest who has the power, and whose duty it is to hear confession in a certain place, the right to absolve all who present themselves before him?

Yes, unless these persons accuse themselves of sins that are reserved to a higher power; and of this he himself judges in hearing the confession of those that present themselves.


Is there in the Church, attaching to the power of the keys, a power which frees man from the penalties due to sin, other than by sacramental absolution and the imposition of a Penance?

Yes; and it is the power of the indulgence (XXV. 1).

In what does this power consist?

It consists in this, that the Church from the infinite and inexhaustible treasures of the merits of Jesus Christ, of our Blessed Lady, and of the saints, can take, in satisfaction for sin, what corresponds in all or in part to the satisfaction which the sinner owes to the justice of God in this or in the next world. The power also extends to this, that an indulgence can be applied to certain particular individuals, and by the effect of this application they are freed from their debt towards the justice of God (XXV. 1).

What is required in order to make this application?

Three things are necessary: he who makes this application must have the authority to do so; there must be a state of grace in him to whom the application is made; and a motive of piety which is the reason for making the application, that is, something that refers to God's honour or to the welfare of the Church, as pious practices, works of zeal or of the apostolate, almsgiving, and the rest (XXV. 2).

These works which are the motive or the reason of the indulgence, are they the price thereof?

In no wise, for an indulgence is not the remission of a penalty which can be bought (XXV. 2).

Is it only those who fulfil the conditions above mentioned who benefit by the indulgence?

They may themselves give this benefit to another, by gaining the indulgence for this other; for instance an indulgence may be gained for the benefit of the souls in purgatory when he who concedes the indulgence gives such faculty (XVII. 3, Obj. 2 Code, Canon 930).


Who can thus concede indulgences?

He alone has the power to concede indulgences to whom the treasures of the merits of Christ and the saints are confided, by reason of the power he has received of binding or loosing those who belong to the mystical Body of Jesus Christ on earth, that is to say the Sovereign Pontiff. But also bishops may grant certain indulgences, according as is determined by the Sovereign Pontiff, to those who come under their jurisdiction (XXVII. 1-3).

What follows from so marvellous a power existing in the Catholic Church, and in it alone, by reason of the supreme authority of the Sovereign Pontiff?

From this marvellous power, joined as it is to the power of the keys in the sacrament of Penance, and in a general way in all that touches the communication in the merits of Jesus Christ, it follows that there can be no greater blessedness for man on earth than to be incorporated, by Baptism, in the Catholic Church, and to have the power of participating in all the rights and privileges which Baptism confers. He is thereby in perfect communion with all its members and with its head, the Roman Pontiff to whose care are confided all the treasures of those spiritual goods that can be distributed among men.


Can it happen that one who is incorporated into the Catholic Church by Baptism does not participate in the privileges that Baptism confers?

Yes, it is the case of those who have fallen under the censures of the Church; and the worst of all is excommunication (XXI. 1, 2).

Are heretics and schismatics excommunicated?

Yes; they have no part in the communion of saints.

It is then only Catholics subject to the Roman Pontiff and not branded with censure who can fully enjoy the privileges of the Church?

Yes; and in order to participate in the privilege of indulgences they must be by grace and charity in the communion of saints.


What precisely is the communion of saints?

It is that union among the members of the mystical Body of Jesus Christ, who are yet on earth, or who are in purgatory, or who are in heaven, whereby without ceasing they communicate with each other by reason of eternal happiness which one day will be common to all in heaven.



What is the sacrament which, when he is about to die, prepares man for his entrance into heaven?

It is the sacrament of Extreme Unction (XXIX. 1).

What is this sacrament?

It is that holy rite instituted by Jesus Christ, that consists in anointing with the holy oils one who is about to die; God is asked to remit whatsoever remains of spiritual weakness which is due to past sin, so that the soul might recover fully and perfectly its spiritual health; with this renewed vigour of soul man is prepared to enter the glory of heaven (XXIX.-XXXII.).

Does this sacrament remit sins?

No, for it is not ordained either against original sin as is Baptism, nor against mortal sin as is Penance, nor in a sense against venial sins, as is the Holy Eucharist; but its object is to restore strength to the soul after the evil of sin has been taken away. However, by reason of the special grace it confers which is incompatible with sin, it can remit indirectly the sins which are in the soul, provided there be no obstacle on the part of the person; that is to say if the person is in good faith and has done all he can to get rid of them (XXX. 1).

Does Extreme Unction also bring back health to the body?

Yes; indeed it is one of the proper effects of this sacrament to do this, and in such wise that always, provided the person puts no obstacle in the way, the virtue of this sacrament brings back physical strength and bodily health; and this it does in such measure that the spiritual health may be benefited thereby, for this latter is the primary and principal effect of the sacrament (XXX. 2).


When may one and when ought one to receive this sacrament?

One may receive it in sickness or bodily failing which puts one in danger of death; one should strive to receive the sacrament in the full state of consciousness so as to receive it with the greatest possible fervour (XXXII. 1, 2).

May one receive this sacrament several times?

One may not receive it more than once in one and the same danger of death. But if after having received it health is recovered, or at least danger of death ceases, one may receive it as often as there are subsequent dangers of death, by reason of the different sicknesses; and if one and the same sickness is prolonged to a great length of time, the sacrament may again be received (XXXIII. 1, 2).

Is Extreme Unction the last sacrament instituted by our Lord to give to men the benefit of the life of His grace?

Yes, it is the last sacrament to give grace to man in so far as he is an individual. But there are two other sacraments of great importance which bring to men this life of grace in so far as they form part of a society, and these are the sacraments of Holy Orders and Matrimony.



What is the sacrament of Holy Orders?

It is that sacred rite instituted by Jesus Christ in order to confer on certain men a special power whereby they are enabled to consecrate His Body for the benefit of His mystical Body (XXXVII. 2).

Is this power that is conferred one or manifold?

It is manifold; but this does not prejudice the unity of the sacrament of Holy Orders, for the inferior orders are a participation of the higher order (XXXVII. 2).

What is this higher order?

It is the order of priests who receive at their consecration the power to consecrate the Holy Eucharist (XXXVII. 2).

And what are the inferior orders?

They are all the orders below the priesthood whose duty' it is to minister to the priest in the act of consecration. First of all come those who serve the priest at the altar, namely the deacons, sub-deacons and the acolytes: the first of these have the power of distributing the Holy Eucharist at least under the species of wine on those occasions when the Holy Eucharist is distributed under both species; the second prepare the matter of the sacrament in the holy vessels; and the third present this matter. Then come those whose office it is to prepare the recipients of the sacrament, not by sacramental absolution which the priest alone has the power to give, but by turning away those that are unworthy, or by instructing the catechumens, or by exorcising the possessed: all of which offices had their raison d'être in the primitive Church, and they have always been kept in the Church in order to safeguard the integrity of its hierarchy (XXXVII. 2).

Which of these orders are called major orders, and which minor orders?

The major orders are the priesthood, diaconate, and sub-diaconate. The minor orders are four in number, viz., the acolytes, the exorcists, the readers, and the doorkeepers (XXXVII. 2, 3).

Where are these orders to be found, as a general rule, with the exception of the priesthood?

They are to be found in ecclesiastical establishments, where the members of the clergy are educated and are prepared for the priesthood.


Has the priest a special character which distinguishes him from other men in the Church of God?

Not only the priest but all the members of the ecclesiastical hierarchy have a certain special character impressed upon their soul when they receive the sacrament of Orders. This character is more marked in the major orders, and more still upon those who have received the priesthood, to whom is given the power to consecrate the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, and to remit sins.

In truth then the faithful owe all to the priest as regards the boons of grace and salvation that are attached to the sacraments?

Yes, with the one exception of the sacrament of Confirmation, which is ordinarily reserved to the bishop. It is the priest who gives to the faithful the sacraments which are ordained to the welfare of their individual life, viz., Baptism, the Holy Eucharist, Penance, and Extreme Unction. It is also the priest who has that supreme power of making really present among men and of offering up in sacrifice the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Is it not also the priest who gives to the faithful that inestimable benefit which is the knowledge of the mysteries of the Christian religion, and of the truths of salvation?

Yes, it is the priest's office and duty to teach them all these truths.


From whom does the priest receive these powers?

He receives them from the bishop (XXXVIII. 1; XL. 4).

In what way is a bishop superior to a priest, and how can he give these powers to the priest?

The bishop is superior to the priest not as regards the consecration of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist, but as regards what refers to the mystical Body of Jesus Christ, which are the faithful in the Church. It is for the welfare of this mystical Body that the episcopal power was instituted by Jesus Christ. This power comprises all that is necessary for the coming into being and the organization of the mystical Body in order to communicate in its fulness the life of grace through the sacraments. Consequently a bishop possesses the fulness of the priesthood, being able not only to consecrate the Body and Blood of our Lord as every priest is able to do, but also without reserve to administer all the other sacraments, including Confirmation; further, he gives to priests and to the lesser ministers their power of order by consecrating or ordaining them, and he gives them their power of jurisdiction over the faithful (XL. 4, 5).

In some sort then the whole life of the Church is concentrated in the person of the bishop?

Yes, this is so.

What is required for a bishop to be this principle of life in his diocese?

He must be in full and perfect communion with the Bishop of Rome, who is the head of all the Churches in the world over which he has supreme authority, and which form the Church of Jesus Christ (XL. 6).


Has the Bishop of Rome or the Sovereign Pontiff powers which other bishops have not?

As regards the administration of the sacraments his powers are the same as those of other bishops. But as regards the power of jurisdiction, which refers to the government of the Church, and to the administration of the sacraments to such and such particular individuals, his power is absolute and extends to the Church in the entire universe; whereas the power of jurisdiction of other bishops extends only to a part of the universal Church, viz., to their own diocese; but even as regards their own diocese, their power derives its nature and its exercise from the power of the Sovereign Pontiff (XL. 6).

Why does this supreme power in the order of jurisdiction belong to the Sovereign Pontiff?

Because the perfect unity of the Church demands that this supreme power should belong to him alone. For this reason Jesus Christ charged Simon Peter to feed His flock; and the Roman Pontiff is the one and only legitimate successor of St. Peter unto the end of time (XL. 6).

It is then from the Sovereign Pontiff that depends every man's union with Jesus Christ through the sacraments, and consequently his supernatural life and eternal salvation?

Yes; for although it is true that the grace of Jesus Christ is not in an absolute way dependent upon the reception of the sacraments themselves when it is impossible to receive them, at least in the case of adults -- and that the action of the Holy Ghost can supplement this defect provided the person is not in bad faith; it is, on the other hand, absolutely certain that no one who separates himself knowingly from communion with the Sovereign Pontiff can participate in the grace of Jesus Christ, and that in consequence if he dies in that state he is irremediably lost.

Is it then in this sense that it is said no one can be saved outside the Church?

Yes, for no one can hold God as his Father who does hold the Church for his Mother.



What is that sacrament instituted by Jesus Christ which by grace perfects the life of those whose duty regards the continuance of human ltfe in the society?

It is the sacrament of Matrimony (XLII.).

In what way is this sacrament ordained to the good of society in the supernatural order?

By the fact that it is ordained to the propagation of the human species whose members are called to be part of a supernatural society (XLI., XLII.).

What is the sacrament of Matrimony?

It is a union between man and woman, indissoluble until the death of one of the parties, and which of itself excludes all participation of a third. This union is contracted between baptized persons by mutual consent; by this contract each is given to the other, so that each in regard to the other has the right to certain acts, that children may be born to them for the continuance of society (XLI., XLII.).

Why has this union at the moment it is contracted the nature of a sacrament?

Because Jesus Christ wished it so; and He wished to elevate Matrimony to the dignity of signifying His own union with the Church (XLII. 2).


What is necessary on the part of the two who wish to make this contract?

It is necessary for both parties to be free to dispose of themselves, and that there be no obstacle opposing their union.

What obstacles can oppose this union?

They are those that are called the impediments of Matrimony.

Are all these impediments of the same nature?

No, for some of them make Matrimony illicit, whereas others make it null and void: the former are called prohibitory impediments, and the latter diriment impediments (Code, Canon 1036).


What are the prohibitory impediments?

They are the simple vow of virginity, the vow of perfect chastity or of not getting married, the vow of receiving Holy Orders, the vow of embracing the religious state; legal parentage, which results from adoption, in those countries where the civil law makes this a prohibitory impediment; lastly, the mixed marriage when one of the two baptized parties is a member of an heretical or schismatical sect (Code, Canons 1058, 1059, 1060).

When one of these impediments exists what is to be done so that marriage may take place?

It is necessary to ask the Church's dispensation from the impediment; and this the Church does not grant except for grave reasons, especially in the case of a mixed marriage; in this latter case the Church exacts that the non-Catholic party shall do nothing to hinder the other from practising the Catholic religion, and that the children born of the marriage shall receive both Catholic baptism and bringing up (Code, Canon 1061).

If one of the parties, without belonging to an heretical or schismatical sect, be notoriously impious and have rejected the Catholic faith and have joined some society condemned by the Church, would there in this case be an impediment of marriage?

No, not in the sense that the Church's dispensation is necessary, but the Church desires that all the faithful should avoid such unions because of the perils of all sorts attaching thereto (Code, Canon 1065).


What are the diriment impediments of Matrimony?

The following, and they are such as are to be found in the new Code of Canon Law: (1) Immature age, that is before sixteen complete years for the man, and before fourteen complete years for the woman; (2) impotency anterior to marriage and perpetual, whether on the part of the man or on the part of the woman, whether known or not known, whether absolute or relative; (3) the fact of being already married even though the marriage has not been consummated; (4) disparity of religion when one of the parties is not baptized, and the other has been baptized in the Catholic Church, or has returned to the Church by being converted from schism or heresy; (5) the fact of being in Holy Orders; (6) the fact of having taken solemn vows in religion, or also simple vows provided the Holy See has determined that these simple vows render marriage null and void; (7) rape or detention by force with a view to marriage, until the person so detained have the full use of liberty; (8) adultery with the promise, or the civil attempt, of marriage, or adultery followed by murder of the married partner committed by one of the two delinquents -- or the co-operation, without adultery, whether physical or moral, in the murder of the married partner; (9) consanguinity in direct line of descent always, and collaterally to the third degree inclusively, and this impediment is multiplied according as the root or stock common to the two parties is multiplied; (10) affinity in the direct line always, and collaterally to the second degree inclusively, and this impediment is multiplied according as the impediment of consanguinity which is the cause is multiplied, or by a subsequent marriage with a blood relation of the dead partner; (11) public honesty arising from an invalid marriage whether consummated or not, and from public concubinage -- this makes marriage null and void in the first and second degree in the direct line between a man and the blood relations of the woman, and vice versa; (12) spiritual parentage contracted between a person baptized and the one who baptizes and the godfather or the godmother; (13) legal parentage by adoption -- if the civil law holds this as an obstacle to the validity of marriage it becomes by the virtue of Canon Law a diriment impediment (Code, Canons 1067-1080; L.-LXII.).


Does the Church ever dispense from these diriment impediments?

She never dispenses and indeed she cannot dispense from those diriment impediments that arise from strict natural law or the divine law, as are, for instance, impotency, or the consummated marriage, or consanguinity in the direct line, or in the collateral line between two very nearly related as brother and sister. But as regards the other impediments which in the main are due to her own ruling she can dispense from them, but only does so for very grave reasons.

Is there not a diriment impediment that does not refer to the condition of the contracting parties, but is extrinsic to them?

Yes; and it is the impediment of clandestinity.

What is clandestinity?

It is a law of the Church which declares null and void the marriage contracted between baptized Catholics, or those who sometime or other were Catholics -- and between baptized and non-Catholics whether the latter be baptized or not -- and between Latins and Orientals-if the marriage is not contracted before the parish priest or before the bishop of the place, or before a priest delegated for this purpose, with at least the presence of two witnesses. If the parish priest or the bishop absolutely cannot be present or only under the greatest difficulties, and there is danger of death to one of the parties, or the difficulties be of such nature that it is impossible for either the parish priest or the bishop to be present for the space of a month, the marriage can be contracted validly with the testimony of two witnesses only (Code, Canons 1094-1099).


When all necessary conditions are present what must the two to be married do in order to receive the sacrament, and who is the minister of the sacrament?

The two parties must give themselves each to the other, actually, by free consent, without constraint or being forced thereto by grave fear; the consent must be formal and mutual, manifested by words or signs about which there can be no mistake; and the two contracting parties are themselves the ministers of the sacrament of Matrimony (Code, Canons 5085-5087; XLVII. 1-6).


If there is any error on the part of those contracting marriage, is the consent, which makes the marriage, invalid?

If this error touches the person of either party the marriage is null; but if it touches the qualities of the person it is illicit (Code, Canon 5083).

Is it a good thing on the occasion of the celebration of marriage for the contracting parties to assist at a special Mass in which their union is blessed by the priest?

Yes; and the Church wishes that all her children before receiving this great sacrament in which a special grace is conferred on them that they might fulfil the duties of their married life, should dispose themselves to receive this grace in all its fulness by a good confession and a fervent communion (Code, Canon 1101).


What is the special grace attaching to the sacrament of Matrimony?

It is the grace of perfect conjugal harmony which inspires a true, lasting, and supernatural affection; it is of such nature that it is able to resist all that might compromise this affection, until death; at the same time this grace brings with it a generosity whereby shortcomings and trials are overcome as regards the children which by the blessing of God may be the fruit of this union; and to this effect that they do nothing whatsoever that may hinder the coming into the world of their children. Moreover, this grace helps the parents to watch over their children with jealous care so that they may be healthy and strong both in body and soul (XLIX 1-6).


Can a validly contracted marriage be dissolved by civil divorce?

No. For no human law can separate what God has joined together. Even after a civil divorce the two parties are united by the bonds of matrimony, and if one or the other re-marries, in the eyes of God and the Church this new union is simply concubinage.


If one of the parties die may the surviving one re-marry?

Yes; this is permitted although, in itself, the state of remaining unmarried is more honourable. But in the case of re-marriage, the woman who has already received once the solemn nuptial blessing may not receive it again (LXIII.; Code, Canons 5142, 1143).


What are solemn espousals which are celebrated before marriage?

They consist essentially in the promise made by two aspiring to marriage to contract marriage with each other at some future time. For them to be valid in conscience and before the world it is necessary for this promise to be made in writing and that it be signed by both parties, and by the parish priest or the bishop of the place, or at least by two witnesses. If one does not know how to write or is unable to do so, the fact must be mentioned in the document and another witness brought forward as testimony thereof (XLIII. 1; Code, Canon 1017).

Do espousals or an engagement to marry give the right to the use of marriage before the marriage is celebrated?

No. Those fiancés who act thus, apart from the fact that they commit a mortal sin, arouse the anger of God, who, later on, may. make them pay dearly for the abuse of the holiness of their espousals.



To what end does Jesus Christ, who conquered sin and death by His Blood, lead the human race?

He leads it to that end which is life eternal in the glory of heaven through all eternity.

Are men given this immortal life in heaven immediately by the action of the redeeming power of Jesus Christ?

No; for although Christ's sacred humanity and the power of the sacraments could bring human nature immediately to this life of glory, it is fitting according to the divine wisdom that human nature should run the course of its evolution. Hence all those who have received baptism and participate in the sacraments of Jesus Christ, even after their personal sanctification is accomplished, have to remain in this life subject to its penalties, and to the worst of all, which is death (LXIX. 1).

It is then only at the end of human generations that death will be definitely conquered, and that men who were bought by the Blood of Jesus Christ will be fully compensated by the glory of both their body and soul in heaven?

Yes, only then will they receive their full compensation; and in the meantime they are in an intermediary state.

What is meant by this intermediary state?

By this is meant that they do not receive immediately the recompense of their meritorious life. All will receive either recompense or chastisement, as the case may be, in its fulness on the day of the resurrection, and whatever it be it will endure for all eternity (LXIX. 2).


What is that intermediate state of those souls that cannot receive the reward of their meritorious life owing to some obstacle?

It is called purgatory (LXXI. 6; Appendix, II.).

What souls are in purgatory?

The souls of the just who die in a state of grace, but who at the moment of death have not given satisfaction to God for the temporal punishment due to sin (ibid.).

Purgatory then is a place of expiation where one must satisfy the justice of God before being admitted to the reward of heaven?

Yes; and there could be nothing more in harmony with the mercy and justice of God (ibid.).

How is the mercy of God shown in the expiation of purgatory?

Because even after their death God gives the just the means of satisfying His justice. God's mercy is also shown by the communion of saints in that He permits the living to offer up in the form of suffrages their own prayers, good works, and penances for the benefit of the souls in purgatory.


What is the best offering that can be made to God on behalf of the souls in purgatory?

The offering of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Is it important that he who offers up some good work for the souls in purgatory should do so with the greatest possible fervour?

Yes; for although God without doubt takes into account the worth of what is offered to Him in expiation -- and in the oblation of the sacrifice of the Mass this worth is infinite -- He takes into greater account the fervour of him who offers it; whether he himself offer it up as does the priest, or whether he offer it through the ministry of another, as when the faithful ask the priest to offer up the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in their name and for their intention (LXXI. 9; Third Part, LXXIX. 5).

These offerings to God in expiation, whether offered for the souls in purgatory in general, or for a particular group, or for this or that soul in particular, are they applied by God according to the intention of him who makes the offering?

Yes (LXXI. 6).

Are the indulgences that one gains (such as are applicable to the souls in purgatory) also applied according to the intention of him who offers them?

Yes, all depends upon the intention of him who gains them in conformity to the intention of the Church, who fixes the limits of such offering (LXXI. 6; Code, Canon 930).

As soon as sufficient satisfaction has been offered to God for their past sins, are the souls which were detained in purgatory for this end immediately received into heaven?

Yes, they are received into heaven as soon as the satisfaction for past sin is completed (LXIX. 2; Appendix, II. 6).



What is heaven?

It is that place where the holy angels have lived since the beginning of the world and to which are admitted all the just who have been redeemed by the Blood of Jesus Christ since the day of His glorious Ascension.

What is necessary for the just to be admitted into heaven?

They must have reached the term of their mortal life, and must have no debt to pay to the justice of God (LXIX. 2).

Are any souls of the just admitted into heaven immediately after their death?

Yes; they are those souls who have received in their full effect the application of the merits of Jesus Christ; or who, whilst on earth, in union with the satisfaction of Jesus Christ have offered to God full satisfaction due to their sins (ibid.).

Children that die after having received baptism and before they have come to the age when they would be capable of sinning, are they admitted immediately to heaven?

Yes, because original sin, which for them was the only obstacle, has been washed away by baptism.

Is the case the same as regards those adults who, although they have committed mortal sins, receive baptism in good dispositions and die immediately afterwards or before they commit sin again?

Yes, because the sacrament of Baptism applies in all their fulness the merits of the Passion of Jesus Christ (Third Part, LXIX. 1, 2, 7, 8).

And those who having committed sins, even mortal, since their baptism, and who have not made complete satisfaction for them, but who nevertheless at the moment of dying offer their life to God by a perfect act of charity, are they received into heaven immediately after their death?

Yes; especially when this perfect act of charity is martyrdom (Second Part: Second Section, CXXIV. 3).


What happens to the souls of the just as soon as they enter heaven?

They immediately behold the vision of God which renders them supremely happy (First Part, XII. 11).

Is it by their own power that they can thus see God, or must they receive some new perfection which strengthens their power of vision?

It is necessary for them to receive a further supernatural perfection other than grace, virtues, and gifts which they already possess (ibid. XII. 5).

What is this ulterior perfection called?

It is called the Light of Glory (ibid.).

What is meant by this?

It is a quality infused by God into the mind of the blessed which strengthens and elevates it, making it capable of receiving within it as the principle of its act of vision the Divine Essence itself in all its splendour (ibid.).

What results from this union of the Divine Essence with the mind of the blessed?

The result is that the blessed see God as He sees Himself (ibid.).

Is this the vision that is called Face to Face?

Yes, such as is promised us in the Holy Scriptures; and such as makes us like to God as far as it is possible for a creature to be.

Is it in order to communicate this vision to the blessed that God created all things, and rules and guides them all, from the beginning to the end of the world?

Yes. Moreover, when all the places He has marked in heaven shall be filled the actual course of the world will come to an end; and He will re-establish this world in a new state which will be that of the resurrection.

Can we know when the end of the world will come?

No; this depends entirely upon the counsels and providence of God.


Do the happy elect who enjoy the beatific vision take any interest at all in the things that take place on earth and among human beings?

Most certainly they interest themselves with things that happen on earth.

Do the elect in heaven see all that passes on earth?

They see in the vision of God all that in this world refers to the mystery of God's predestination and its fulfilment.

Do they hear the prayers addressed to them, and do they know the spiritual and temporal needs of those who were dear to them on earth?

Most assuredly; and they are always answering these prayers, and provide for the wants of those on earth by interceding to God (LXXII. 1).

Why then do we not always feel the benefit of their intercession?

Because they see our bequests and needs in the light of God, in which that which oftentimes seems a good to us is not in reality so according to the ordering of the divine providence (LXXII. 3).



Is there a place of eternal damnation?

Yes, and it is called hell (LXIX. 2).

What is hell?

Hell is a place of torments to which are condemned all those who by their sins have revolted against God, and have remained in their sins.

Who are these?

Among the angels all those that sinned; and among men those that die in the state of final impenitence (LXIX. 2).

Since the damned are rooted in evil in such wise that they never repent what is the consequence?

The consequence is that the torments which they have merited by their sins will last for ever.

But could God not put an end to these torments?

Yes, He could do so by His absolute power; but according to the order of His wisdom He will not do so, for according to this order those who arrive at the term of their life are fixed for always either in good or in evil, and since the evil always remains so must the punishment always remain (XCIX. 1, 2).


What are the torments that the damned will suffer always?

They are twofold: the pain of loss and the pain of sense (XCVII. 1, 2).

What is the pain of loss?

It is the privation of the infinite good which is the beatific vision in heaven.

Whence is it that this punishment will be cruelly felt by the damned?

It arises from this, that having arrived at the term of their life they see the nothingness of all the things they sought in life to the prejudice of the infinite good; they will then appreciate the greatness of the good they have lost, and they will realize that they lost it through their own fault entirely.

Is not this perpetual consciousness of having lost so great a good as the vision of God called by the Gospel "the worm that never dies"?

Yes; and this will be the most terrible punishment of their guilty conscience (XCVII. 2).


Must one understand in a metaphorical and purely spiritual sense the other punishment of which the Gospel speaks and which it calls "the fire that never dies"?

No; one must understand these words of material fire; for they signify the pain of sense (XCVII. 5).

But how can material fire act upon spirits or upon souls separated from the body?

By a special ordering of His justice, God communicates to this material fire the preternatural power of serving as an instrument of His justice (LXX. 3).

Will all the damned be tormented by the fire of hell in the same way?

No, for since it is used as an instrument of the divine justice, its action will be proportioned to the nature, number, and gravity of the sins committed by each one (XCVII. 5, Obj. 3).



By what act is a soul sent to purgatory, heaven, or hell?

By the act of judgment.

What is this judgment?

It is that act of the justice of God which pronounces definitely on the state of a soul with regard to its reward or punishment.

When does this judgment take place?

It takes place immediately after death as soon as the soul is separated from the body.

Who makes this judgment?

It is made by God Himself; and after the Ascension of Jesus Christ to heaven it is made through the sacred humanity of the Word made flesh.


Does the soul that is judged see God or the sacred humanity of Jesus Christ?

God is not seen in His essence, nor is the sacred humanity of Jesus Christ seen who is in heaven, except by those souls who according to a judgment in their favour immediately enter heaven.

In what way does the judgment take place of the other souls?

There is as it were a light whereby they see instantaneously the whole course of their life, and which shows them immediately the place to which they are allotted whether in hell or in purgatory.

It is then as it were in the same instant that the soul, as soon as it leaves the body, is judged and its place allotted to it in purgatory, hell, or heaven?

Yes, since all this takes place by the almighty power of God, whose action is instantaneous.

Can sometimes the very last act of man, before the soul leaves the body, decide the fate of the soul for all eternity. and guarantee for the soul eternal happiness?

Yes, but this comes about sometimes only by the great mercy of God; and it may be that there were other acts during man's life which in some way prepared him for this great grace, or by reason of the prayers of saintly souls who inclined God to perform this act of supreme mercy.



Are there any human beings who at the moment of death are not judged?

Yes. All children who die before attaining the age of reason, or those who though adults never had the use of reason (LXIX. 6).

Is there any allotment at all as regards infants and those who have not had the use of reason?

Yes, but this is not by reason of their merits or demerits; and it is not made by way of judgment. It comes about by the fact that some have received baptism and others have not. Those that have received baptism immediately go to heaven; whereas those who have not received this sacrament go to a place reserved for them which is called Limbo.


Is Limbo distinct from Purgatory and hell?

Yes, because these two latter are places where punishment is inflicted for personal sins (LXIX. 6).

Do infants who have died without baptism suffer the pain of loss in Limbo?

Yes, to a certain degree, for they know they are deprived of the vision of God; but this has not the character of torture such as those in hell suffer (Appendix, 1. 2).

Whence arises this difference as regards the pain of loss?

It comes from this, that although they know they are deprived of the vision of God, they also know that this is not by reason of any personal sin but by reason of their being born of Adam, who sinned (ibid.).

For them, then, there is no horrible worm that gnaws their souls such as torments the damned in hell?

No. But they live in a state without any kind of suffering or sadness, except that they are conscious of that supreme happiness which would have been theirs had the merits of the redemption been applied to them and which they will never have, not by any fault on their part but because the inscrutable counsels of God have arranged it so (ibid.).


Do the souls of these infants know the mysteries of the redemption?

Most certainly.

Have they the light of faith?

No, they have not faith in the sense of that interior supernatural light perfecting the mind whereby in a certain intimate manner it penetrates revealed mysteries and generates in the soul a strong desire towards them; they know these mysteries very much in the same way as those who cannot help but assent to the truth of the divine mysteries revealed by God, but who are not drawn by an impulse of grace to cling supernaturally to these mysteries, and as a consequence they do not penetrate the intimate meaning of them.


Besides this Limbo of the souls of children who die before baptism, is not mention made of another Limbo in the language of the Church?

Yes, it is that Limbo where formerly the just were detained, that is, those in whom there was no personal hindrance as regards entrance into heaven, but who had to await the coming of the Redeemer (LXIX. 7).

Is there anyone now in this Limbo of the just?

Since the day when Jesus Christ at the moment of His death descended there and left it on the day of His Resurrection, bringing with Him all the souls of the just, this place ceased to be occupied by those for whom it was primarily destined; but it may be that since then it is the place where children go who die without baptism, so in this case it would be the same as the Limbo of infants.


In what will the end of the world consist, and what will follow upon it?

The end of the world will be immediately followed by two great events, viz., the resurrection and the judgment. Moreover, the Apostle St. Peter teaches us that the end of the world will be by fire at the moment when Jesus Christ shall come in His glory to judge the living and the dead (LXXIV. 1, 2).

Will this universal conflagration which will destroy the present world be as it were a preparation for the judgment?

Yes, by purifying all things and making them worthy of the new state so as to be in harmony with the glory of the elect (LXXIV. 1).

Will this final conflagration act by its own virtue, or also as instrument of the divine power?

It will act also as an instrument of God in particular for the purification of those souls which would have perhaps remained in the flames of purgatory for a long time (LXXIV. 3-8).

These souls then will be purified and made worthy to be admitted among the elect as it were instantaneously?

Yes; and the purifying virtue of this fire will be proportioned by God to the degree of expiation necessary in each case.

Do we know when this conflagration will take place?

No; but it will be preceded by certain signs which will herald the near advent of the Sovereign Judge.

What will these signs be?

There will be unheard-of upheavals in the whole of nature which, as the Gospel says, will make men quake with fear.



What will happen immediately after the great conflagration?

There will be heard an order, a voice, the sound of a trumpet, so speaks St. Paul in his First Epistle to the Thessalonians, which will awaken the dead from their tombs, and command all men to stand before the Judge of the living and the dead; and this Judge will descend from heaven in all the glory of His majesty (LXXV. 1).

Which are those who will come to life at this moment?

All those who were already dead; and also all those who are still living when Jesus Christ appears.

But how can these last also rise from the dead?

In this wise: if all comes to be as it were instantaneously as St. Paul seems to say (1 Cor., chap. xv., ver. 51), by the power of God all those human beings who are living will die an instantaneous death, and will rise again immediately in the state which they have merited and which will be theirs for all eternity (LXXVIII. 1, 2).

Will the bodies of all the just who rise from the dead be instantaneously transformed and become glorious?


But will these bodies now resplendent with glory be the same bodies that the just had when they lived this life?

Yes, they will be the same bodies with this difference, that there will be no imperfections or troubles or sicknesses such as they were subject to on earth; on the contrary, these bodies will have perfections that will in some sense spiritualise them (LXXIX.-LXXXI.).

How can all this come about?

By the almighty power of God, who having created all things can change and transform them as He wills.


What are these new perfections or properties of the glorified risen body?

They are impassibility, subtlety, agility, and clarity.

What is impassibility?

It is that property of the glorified body whereby the soul has perfect dominion over the body in such wise that no defect and no suffering or sickness whatsoever can be in the body (LXXXII. 1).

Will this impassibility be the same in all?

Yes, in the sense that there can be no defect in the body which is perfectly under the dominion of the soul; but the power of this dominion will be proportioned to the glory of the soul, which will be different according to the degree in which the soul participates in the beatific vision (LXXXII. 2).

Will it follow from this impassibility that the glorified body will be devoid of sensibility?

In no wise; it will have, on the contrary, a sensibility that is exquisite in the highest possible degree, with no admixture whatsoever of imperfection. Hence the eye of the glorified body will see in an incomparable degree more readily and more piercingly than in this life; the ear will have a sensitiveness without compare. So with all the other senses; each will attain its object with an intensity of perfection impossible for us now to imagine, and this without an object ever injuring the sense as so often happens in this life (LXXXII. 3, 4).


What is the property of subtlety in a glorified body?

Subtlety will consist in a superlative perfection of the body due to the influence of the glorified soul; this influence will impart to the body something so pure and ethereal that it will cease to have that heaviness or density that it has now on earth; but this property in no way detracts from the true nature of the body as though it thereby becomes unreal, aeriform, or a phantom.

Will a glorified body on account of its subtlety be able to occupy the same place as another body? and is it itself independent of all place, or does it occupy space?

The glorified body cannot occupy the same place as another body, for it retains always its own dimensions or quantity, and consequently it will always be in a place and in space (LXXXIII. 2).

It was not then by reason of the property of subtlety that the risen Body of our Lord passed through closed doors?

No, this was a miracle and was performed by the divine power of Jesus Christ; in the same way it was by the divine power that our Lord was born without prejudicing the virginity of Mary His Mother (LXXXIII. 2, Obj. 1).


What is the property of agility in the glorified body?

It is a certain perfection in the body derived from the glorified soul whereby the body will obey in the most marvellously ready manner all the movements of the soul which is its motive principle (LXXXIV. 1).

Will the saints make use of this property?

They will most certainly use it when they have to come to the judgment of Jesus Christ on the last day, and when they ascend to heaven with Him. It is also probable they will use this gift according as they will in order to manifest the divine wisdom in conferring this gift upon them; and also in order to appreciate better the beauty of all things in the universe in which the wisdom of God will shine forth (LXXXIV. 2).

Will the bodies of the saints be moved instantaneously by virtue of agility?

No; their movements will always require duration in time, except that so rapid will be their movement that this duration will be imperceptible (LXXXI V. 3).


What is the fourth property which is called clarity?

By this is meant that the splendour of the soul will shine as it were through the body, so that the body will be as it were luminous and transparent; but this will not detract from the natural colour of the body, but will rather harmonize with it, imparting to it the most exquisite beauty (LXXXV. 1).

Will this clarity be the same in all?

No, it will be proportioned to the degree of glory proper to each soul; and for this reason St. Paul speaks of a variety among the glorified bodies: "One is the glory of the sun, another of the moon, and another the glory of the stars. For star differeth from star in glory" (First Epistle to Cor., chap. xv., ver. 41).

Will it be possible for the eye of a non-glorified body to see this clarity of the glorified body?

Yes; and the lost will perceive it in all its splendour (LXXXV. 2).

Will it be in the power of the soul to permit or not to permit this clarity of its glorified body to be seen?

Yes, for this clarity comes entirely from the soul and is entirely subject to it (LXXXV. 3).


In what state or at what age will the bodies of the blessed rise?

They will all rise at that age in which human nature is in its most perfect state of development (LXXXI. 1).

Will it be the same as regards the bodies of the damned?

Yes, except that they will have none of the four qualities of the glorified body (ibid.).

Does it follow that the bodies of the damned will be corruptible?

In no wise, for corruptibility and death will be no more (LXXXVI. 2).

They will then be at the same time passible and immortal?

Yes, God has so arranged in His justice and power that the bodies of the damned will never corrupt or be destroyed, and yet all things, especially the fire of hell, will be for them a cause of suffering and torture (LXXXVI. 2, 3).


As regards children that die without baptism what will the state of their bodies be?

They will rise in the most perfect state of a human being in nature, but without the properties of the glorified body; but they will never suffer any sorrow or pain (cf. Appendix, I. a).


As soon as men rise from the dead will they immediately be in presence of the Sovereign Judge?

Yes (LXXXIX. 5).

Under what form will the Sovereign Judge appear at the moment of judgment?

He will appear under the form of His sacred humanity in all the glory which is due to His union with the Person of the Word (XC. 1, 2).

Will all men see this glory of the Sovereign Judge?

Yes (ibid.).

Will all see Him in the glory of His divine nature?

No, only the elect whose souls enjoy the beatific vision will see this glory (XC. 3).

Will all men who appear be judged?

No, only those who have had the use of reason during this life; but they will be present that they may behold the sovereign justice of the judgments of God and the glory of Jesus Christ (LXXXIX. 5, Obj. 3).

Will all men who have had the use of reason be judged?

They will all be judged as regards the separation which will take place between the good and the bad. The good will be placed on the right hand of the Judge to hear His sentence of benediction; and the bad on His left hand to receive His sentence of malediction. But the good will not be judged in the sense that their bad acts, if any, will be judged before all heaven and earth; in this sense only the lost will be judged (LXXXIX. 6, 7).

Will this convincing of sin in the face of all bring confusion to the lost?

Yes, it will be inexpressible torture for them, because behind every sin, especially mortal sin, there is hidden pride; and on the day of judgment they will be forced to confess all before the Sovereign Judge, who will leave nothing hidden.

Will all the evil done by the lost during life be brought to light before all present?

Yes, whatever evil it be it will be brought to light: all that was committed in their individual and private life, or in the family or in the society (LXXXVII. 1, 2, 3).

In what way will this manifestation of an entire life take place?

In the same way as in the particular judgment when by a light the whole of one's life is instantaneously present, so in the general judgment all consciences will be laid bare to the gaze of all instantaneously (ibid.).

Will the consciences of the just and all their life also be made manifest to all?

Yes, but this will be a triumph for their humility in life (LXXXIX. 6).

Will all the sins one has committed during life, but for which penance has been done, be also made manifest?

Yes, but this will be to the glory of the just by reason of their penance (LXXXVII. 2, Obj. 3).

Will there be certain of the just who will also assist at the last judgment in the capacity of judges?

Yes; all those who after the example of the Apostles left all to give themselves up entirely to God, and whose life has been in some sort a proclamation of the Gospel in its perfection (LXXXIX. 1, 2).

Will the angels also be judges on the last day?

No, because those who help Jesus Christ to judge must resemble Him; but it is as man that the Son of God will exercise the function of Sovereign Judge (LXXXIX. 7).

Will the angels be judged on the last day?

No, except that the good angels who have helped in the actions of the just, and the bad angels in the actions of the wicked, will receive an increase of happiness or of punishment respectively (LXXXIX. 3).

What will be the ending of the last judgment?

To those on His right Jesus Christ will say: "Come, ye blessed of My Father, and possess the Kingdom prepared for you from the constitution of the world." To those on His left He will say: "Depart from Me, ye accursed, into hell fire, which was prepared for the devil and his angels."


Will the sentence of the Sovereign Judge with regard to the lost be carried out by the demons?

Yes; the lost will immediately be seized by the demons and dragged to hell, where in addition to their own sufferings they will be tormented for ever by the demons (LXXXIX. 4).

Will the fact that the lost have now their bodies be a new cause of suffering?

Yes, for henceforth they will suffer not only in their soul but also in their body; but the suffering of the body will not be the same for all, for the punishment will be proportionate to the number and gravity of sins committed by each one (XCVII. 1, 5).

Will the sufferings of the lost ever cease or become less intense?

No, because their will is fixed in evil, and hence they will always be in the same state of wickedness (XCVIII. 1, 2; XCIX. 1).



Will the elect immediately enter heaven after their sentence has been pronounced?


Will the happiness of the elect be increased by the fact that their bodies are now united to their souls?

Yes, they will have an increase of accidental happiness, their essential happiness consisting in the vision of God (XCIII. 1).

Will there be distinct places for the elect in heaven?

Yes, for the degree of charity or of grace will determine the degree of glory (XCIII. 2, 3).

In this assembly of the elect will men have something that the angels will not have?

Yes, for men will form the Church triumphant, but the angels will not have the same relation to Jesus Christ, who is the King of the Church triumphant (XCV. 1, 2, 4).

In what will this difference consist?

In this, that the elect belonging to the human race resemble Jesus Christ, who has the same human nature; but this will never be so with the angels. The elect therefore will have certain intimate relations with Jesus Christ which the angels have not.


What will be the result of this intimate relation between the Church triumphant and Jesus Christ?

The result will be that on its entrance into heaven Almighty God will bestow upon it the most inestimable gifts which are called the dowry of the blessed (XCV. 1).

What is this dowry?

It is threefold in the glorified soul from which it is reflected, as it were, in the body under the form of the four properties whereby the body is glorified (of these latter we have already spoken); this dowry will consist in the vision, possession, and fruition of the divine essence (XCV. 5).


May one say that the elect in heaven will be invested, as it were, with a royal dignity?

Yes, because the beatific vision unites them to God, and thus they participate in the divinity of God; and since God is the immortal King of ages, the elect participate in this sovereign royalty and its glory (XCVI. 1).

Is it then by reason of this that the blessed are said to receive a crown in heaven?

Yes, it is for this precisely (XCVI. 1).


Do the blessed also have what is called an aureola?

Yes; but although the crown is common to all, only certain ones will have an aureola (XCVI. 1).

What is the reason of this difference?

It comes to this: the crown is the result or the resplendency of essential happiness which consists in the vision of God; whereas an aureola is a resplendency of an accidental order caused by the joy of certain of the elect on account of certain works they performed while on earth which were specially meritorious (XCVI. 1).

Will the angels have aureolas?

No, for they had no such meritorious works to accomplish (XCVI. 9).

What kind of meritorious works did certain of the elect perform which gives them the right to an aureola?

Some were martyrs, others virgins, and others preached the Gospel (XCVI. 5, 6, 7).

Why will these three kinds of good works merit an aureola?

Because they make men resemble Jesus Christ in a special way in so far as He was victorious over the flesh, the world, and the devil (ibid.).

Are there not in the Sacred Scriptures words which concern the eternal happiness of the elect in heaven?

Yes, in the Apocalypse of St. John, chap. xxii., ver. 5, we read these words: "Night shall be no more: and they shall not need the light of the lamp, nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God shall enlighten them, and they shall reign for ever and ever."



O JESUS, most sweet Son of the glorious Virgin Mary, and the only-begotten of the living God; together with Thy Father, who begot Thee from all eternity in the womb of His infinite nature, and who communicates to Thee this same infinite nature; and with the Holy Ghost, who proceeds from the Father and from Thee, who is Thy Father's Spirit and Thine, who is Thy Father's subsisting Love and Thine, and who received from you both the same infinite nature;

I adore Thee and I acknowledge Thee as my God, the only true God, one and infinitely perfect;

Who created all things out of nothing, and who maintains and governs them with infinite wisdom, with sovereign goodness and with almighty power;

I beg Thee, in virtue of the mysteries of Thy sacred humanity, to cleanse me in Thy Blood and wash away all my sins; I beg Thee to impart to me Thy Holy Spirit with an abundance of His grace, His virtues, and His gifts;

I beg Thee to make me believe in Thee, to hope in Thee, and to love Thee, that by each one of my acts I may strive to merit Thee, who hast promised one day to give Thyself to me in all the splendour of Thy glory in the presence of Thy holy angels and saints. Amen.

(On January 22nd, 1914, Pope Pius X. granted in perpetuum 100 days' indulgence, applicable to the souls in purgatory. This indulgence may be gained once each day by all the faithful who with devotion and a contrite heart recite the above prayer.)

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