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Home > Summa Theologica > Supplement > Question 69

Question 69. Matters concerning the resurrection, and first of the place where souls are after death

  1. Are any places appointed to receive souls after death?
  2. Are souls conveyed thither immediately after death?
  3. Are they able to leave those places?
  4. Is the limbo of hell the same as Abraham's bosom?
  5. Is limbo the same as the hell of the damned?
  6. Is the limbo of the patriarchs the same as the limbo of children?
  7. Should so many places be distinguished?

Article 1. Whether places are appointed to receive souls after death?

Objection 1. It would seem that places are not appointed to receive souls after death. For as Boethius says (De Hebdom.): "Wise men are agreed that incorporeal things are not in a place," and this agrees with the words of Augustine (Gen. ad lit. xii, 32): "We can answer without hesitation that the soul is not conveyed to corporeal places, except with a body, or that it is not conveyed locally." Now the soul separated from the body is without a body, as Augustine also says (Gen. ad lit. xii, 32). Therefore it is absurd to assign any places for the reception of souls.

Objection 2. Further, whatever has a definite place has more in common with that place than with any other. Now separated souls, like certain other spiritual substances, are indifferent to all places; for it cannot be said that they agree with certain bodies, and differ from others, since they are utterly removed from all corporeal conditions. Therefore places should not be assigned for their reception.

Objection 3. Further, nothing is assigned to separated souls after death, except what conduces to their punishment or to their reward. But a corporeal place cannot conduce to their punishment or reward, since they receive nothing from bodies. Therefore definite places should not be assigned to receive them.

On the contrary, The empyrean heaven is a corporeal place, and yet as soon as it was made it was filled with the holy angels, as Bede [Hexaem. i, ad Gn. 1:2] says. Since then angels even as separated souls are incorporeal, it would seem that some place should also be assigned to receive separated souls.

Further, this appears from Gregory's statement (Dial. iv) that souls after death are conveyed to various corporeal places, as in the case of Paschasius whom Germanus, Bishop of Capua, found at the baths, and of the soul of King Theodoric, which he asserts to have been conveyed to hell. Therefore after death souls have certain places for their reception.

I answer that, Although spiritual substances do not depend on a body in respect of their being, nevertheless the corporeal world is governed by God by means of the spiritual world, as asserted by Augustine (De Trin. iii, 4) and Gregory (Dial. iv, 6). Hence it is that there is a certain fittingness by way of congruity of spiritual substances to corporeal substances, in that the more noble bodies are adapted to the more noble substances: wherefore also the philosophers held that the order of separate substances is according to the order of movables. And though after death souls have no bodies assigned to them whereof they be the forms or determinate motors, nevertheless certain corporeal places are appointed to them by way of congruity in reference to their degree of nobility (wherein they are as though in a place, after the manner in which incorporeal things can be in a place), according as they more or less approach to the first substance (to which the highest place it fittingly assigned), namely God, whose throne the Scriptures proclaim heaven to be (Psalm 102:19, Isaiah 66:1). Wherefore we hold that those souls that have a perfect share of the Godhead are in heaven, and that those souls that are deprived of that share are assigned to a contrary place.

Reply to Objection 1. Incorporeal things are not in place after a manner known and familiar to us, in which way we say that bodies are properly in place; but they are in place after a manner befitting spiritual substances, a manner that cannot be fully manifest to us.

Reply to Objection 2. Things have something in common with or a likeness to one another in two ways. First, by sharing a same quality: thus hot things have something in common, and incorporeal things can have nothing in common with corporeal things in this way. Secondly, by a kind of proportionateness, by reason of which the Scriptures apply the corporeal world to the spiritual metaphorically. Thus the Scriptures speak of God as the sun, because He is the principle of spiritual life, as the sun is of corporeal life. In this way certain souls have more in common with certain places: for instance, souls that are spiritually enlightened, with luminous bodies, and souls that are plunged in darkness by sin, with dark places.

Reply to Objection 3. The separated soul receives nothing directly from corporeal places in the same way as bodies which are maintained by their respective places: yet these same souls, through knowing themselves to be appointed to such places, gather joy or sorrow therefrom; and thus their place conduces to their punishment or reward.

Article 2. Whether souls are conveyed to heaven or hell immediately after death?

Objection 1. It would seem that no souls are conveyed to heaven or hell immediately after death. For a gloss on Psalm 36:10, "Yet a little while and the wicked shall not be," says that "the saints are delivered at the end of life; yet after this life they will not yet be where the saints will be when it is said to them: Come ye blessed of My Father." Now those saints will be in heaven. Therefore after this life the saints do not go immediately up to heaven.

Objection 2. Further, Augustine says (Enchiridion cix) that "the time which lies between man's death and the final resurrection holds the souls in secret receptacles according as each one is worthy of rest or of suffering." Now these secret abodes cannot denote heaven and hell, since also after the final resurrection the souls will be there together with their bodies: so that he would have no reason to distinguish between the time before and the time after the resurrection. Therefore they will be neither in hell nor in heaven until the day of judgment.

Objection 3. Further, the glory of the soul is greater than that of bodies. Now the glory of the body is awarded to all at the same time, so that each one may have the greater joy in the common rejoicing of all, as appears from a gloss on Hebrews 11:40, "God providing some better thing for us--that the common joy may make each one rejoice the more." Much more, therefore, ought the glory of souls to be deferred until the end, so as to be awarded to all at the same time.

Objection 4. Further, punishment and reward, being pronounced by the sentence of the judge, should not precede the judgment. Now hell fire and the joys of heaven will be awarded to all by the sentence of Christ judging them, namely at the last judgment, according to Matthew 25. Therefore no one will go up to heaven or down to hell before the day of judgment.

On the contrary, It is written (2 Corinthians 5:1): "If our earthly house of this habitation be dissolved, that we have . . . a house not made with hands, but reserved in heaven [Vulgate: 'eternal in heaven'; cf. 1 Peter 1:4." Therefore, after the body's dissolution, the soul has an abode, which had been reserved for it in heaven.

Further, the Apostle says (Philippians 1:23): "I desire [Vulgate: 'Having a desire'] to be dissolved and to be with Christ." From these words Gregory argues as follows (Dial. iv, 25): "If there is no doubt that Christ is in heaven, it cannot be denied that Paul's soul is in heaven likewise." Now it cannot be gainsaid that Christ is in heaven, since this is an article of faith. Therefore neither is it to be denied that the souls of the saints are borne to heaven. That also some souls go down to hell immediately after death is evident from Luke 16:22, "And the rich man died, and he was buried in hell."

I answer that, Even as in bodies there is gravity or levity whereby they are borne to their own place which is the end of their movement, so in souls there is merit or demerit whereby they reach their reward or punishment, which are the ends of their deeds. Wherefore just as a body is conveyed at once to its place, by its gravity or levity, unless there be an obstacle, so too the soul, the bonds of the flesh being broken, whereby it was detained in the state of the way, receives at once its reward or punishment, unless there be an obstacle. Thus sometimes venial sin, though needing first of all to be cleansed, is an obstacle to the receiving of the reward; the result being that the reward is delayed. And since a place is assigned to souls in keeping with their reward or punishment, as soon as the soul is set free from the body it is either plunged into hell or soars to heaven, unless it be held back by some debt, for which its flight must needs be delayed until the soul is first of all cleansed. This truth is attested by the manifest authority of the canonical Scriptures and the doctrine of the holy Fathers; wherefore the contrary must be judged heretical as stated in Dial. iv, 25, and in De Eccl. Dogm. xlvi.

Reply to Objection 1. The gloss explains itself: for it expounds the words, "They will not yet be where the saints will be," etc., by saying immediately afterwards: "That is to say, they will not have the double stole which the saints will have at the resurrection."

Reply to Objection 2. Among the secret abodes of which Augustine speaks, we must also reckon hell and heaven, where some souls are detained before the resurrection. The reason why a distinction is drawn between the time before and the time after the resurrection is because before the resurrection they are there without the body whereas afterwards they are with the body, and because in certain places there are souls now which will not be there after the resurrection.

Reply to Objection 3. There is a kind of continuity among men as regards the body, because in respect thereof is verified the saying of Acts 17:24-26, "God . . . hath made of one all mankind": whereas He has fashioned souls independently of one another. Consequently it is not so fitting that all men should be glorified together in the soul as that they should be glorified together in the body. Moreover the glory of the body is not so essential as the glory of the soul; wherefore it would be more derogatory to the saints if the glory of the soul were delayed, than that the glory of the body be deferred: nor could this detriment to their glory be compensated on account of the joy of each one being increased by the common joy.

Reply to Objection 4. Gregory proposes and solves this very difficulty (Dial. iv, 25): "If then," he says, "the souls of the just are in heaven now, what will they receive in reward for their justice on the judgment day?" And he answers: "Surely it will be a gain to them at the judgment, that whereas now they enjoy only the happiness of the soul, afterwards they will enjoy also that of the body, so as to rejoice also in the flesh wherein they bore sorrow and torments for the Lord." The same is to be said in reference to the damned.

Article 3. Whether the souls who are in heaven or hell are able to go from thence?

Objection 1. It would seem that the souls in heaven or hell are unable to go from thence. For Augustine says (De Cura pro Mort. xiii): "If the souls of the dead took any part in the affairs of the living, to say nothing of others, there is myself whom not for a single night would my loving mother fail to visit since she followed me by land and sea in order to abide with me": and from this he concludes that the souls of the departed do not mingle in the affairs of the living. But they would be able to do so if they were to leave their abode. Therefore they do not go forth from their abode.

Objection 2. Further, it is written (Psalm 26:4): "That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life," and (Job 7:9): "He that shall go down to hell shall not come up." Therefore neither the good nor the wicked quit their abode.

Objection 3. Further, as stated above (Article 2), abodes are awarded to souls after death as a reward or punishment. Now after death neither the rewards of the saints nor the punishments of the damned are increased. Therefore they do not quit their abodes.

On the contrary, Jerome writing against Vigilantius addresses him thus: "For thou sayest that the souls of the apostles and martyrs have taken up their abode either in Abraham's bosom or in the place of refreshment, or under the altar of God, and that they are unable to visit their graves when they will. Wouldst thou then lay down the law for God? Wouldst thou put the apostles in chains, imprison them until the day of judgment, and forbid them to be with their lord, them of whom it is written: They follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth? And if the Lamb is everywhere, therefore we must believe that those also who are with Him are everywhere." Therefore it is absurd to say that the souls of the departed do not leave their abode.

Further, Jerome argues as follows: "Since the devil and the demons wander throughout the whole world, and are everywhere present with wondrous speed, why should the martyrs, after shedding their blood be imprisoned and unable to go forth?" Hence we may infer that not only the good sometimes leave their abode, but also the wicked, since their damnation does not exceed that of the demons who wander about everywhere.

Further, the same conclusion may be gathered from Gregory (Dial. iv), where he relates many cases of the dead having appeared to the living.

I answer that, There are two ways of understanding a person to leave hell or heaven. First, that he goes from thence simply, so that heaven or hell be no longer his place: and in this way no one who is finally consigned to hell or heaven can go from thence, as we shall state further on (71, 5, ad 5). Secondly, they may be understood to go forth for a time: and here we must distinguish what befits them according to the order of nature, and what according to the order of Divine providence; for as Augustine says (De Cura pro Mort. xvi): "Human affairs have their limits other than have the wonders of the Divine power, nature's works differ from those which are done miraculously." Consequently, according to the natural course, the separated souls consigned to their respective abodes are utterly cut off from communication with the living. For according to the course of nature men living in mortal bodies are not immediately united to separate substances, since their entire knowledge arises from the senses: nor would it be fitting for them to leave their abode for any purpose other than to take part in the affairs of the living. Nevertheless, according to the disposition of Divine providence separated souls sometimes come forth from their abode and appear to men, as Augustine, in the book quoted above, relates of the martyr Felix who appeared visibly to the people of Nola when they were besieged by the barbarians. It is also credible that this may occur sometimes to the damned, and that for man's instruction and intimidation they be permitted to appear to the living; or again in order to seek our suffrages, as to those who are detained in purgatory, as evidenced by many instances related in the fourth book of the Dialogues. There is, however, this difference between the saints and the damned, that the saints can appear when they will to the living, but not the damned; for even as the saints while living in the flesh are able by the gifts of gratuitous grace to heal and work wonders, which can only be done miraculously by the Divine power, and cannot be done by those who lack this gift, so it is not unfitting for the souls of the saints to be endowed with a power in virtue of their glory, so that they are able to appear wondrously to the living, when they will: while others are unable to do so unless they be sometimes permitted.

Reply to Objection 1. Augustine, as may be gathered from what he says afterwards, is speaking according to the common course of nature, And yet it does not follow, although the dead be able to appear to the living as they will, that they appear as often as when living in the flesh: because when they are separated from the flesh, they are either wholly conformed to the divine will, so that they may do nothing but what they see to be agreeable with the Divine disposition, or else they are so overwhelmed by their punishments that their grief for their unhappiness surpasses their desire to appear to others.

Reply to Objection 2. The authorities quoted speak in the sense that no one comes forth from heaven or hell simply, and do not imply that one may not come forth for a time.

Reply to Objection 3. As stated above (1, ad 3) the soul's place conduces to its punishment or reward in so far as the soul, through being consigned to that place, is affected either by joy or by grief. Now this joy or grief at being consigned to such a place remains in the soul even when it is outside that place. Thus a bishop who is given the honor of sitting on a throne in the church incurs no dishonor when he leaves the throne, for though he sits not therein actually, the place remains assigned to him.

We must also reply to the arguments in the contrary sense.

Reply to Objection 4. Jerome is speaking of the apostles and martyrs in reference to that which they gain from their power of glory, and not to that which befits them as due to them by nature. And when he says that they are everywhere, he does not mean that they are in several places or everywhere at once, but that they can be wherever they will.

Reply to Objection 5. There is no parity between demons and angels on the one hand and the souls of the saints and of the damned on the other. For the good or bad angels have allotted to them the office of presiding over men, to watch over them or to try them; but this cannot be said of the souls of men. Nevertheless, according to the power of glory, it is competent to the souls of the saints that they can be where they will; and this is what Jerome means to say.

Reply to Objection 6. Although the souls of the saints or of the damned are sometimes actually present where they appear, we are not to believe that this is always so: for sometimes these apparitions occur to persons whether asleep or awake by the activity of good or wicked angels in order to instruct or deceive the living. Thus sometimes even the living appear to others and tell them many things in their sleep; and yet it is clear that they are not present, as Augustine proves from many instances (De Cura pro Mort. xi, xii).

Article 4. Whether the limbo of hell is the same as Abraham's bosom?

Objection 1. It would seem that the limbo of hell is not the same as Abraham's bosom. For according to Augustine (Gen. ad lit. xxxiii): "I have not yet found Scripture mentioning hell in a favorable sense." Now Abraham's bosom is taken in a favorable sense, as Augustine goes on to say (Gen. ad lit. xxxiii): "Surely no one would be allowed to give an unfavorable signification to Abraham's bosom and the place of rest whither the godly poor man was carried by the angels." Therefore Abraham's bosom is not the same as the limbo of hell.

Objection 2. Further, those who are in hell see not God. Yet God is seen by those who are in Abraham's bosom, as may be gathered from Augustine (Confess. ix, 3) who, speaking of Nebridius, says: "Whatever that be, which is signified by thut bosom, there lives my Nebridius," and further on: "Now lays he not his ear to my mouth, but his spiritual mouth unto Thy fountain, and drinketh as much as he can receive wisdom in proportion to his thirst, endlessly happy." Therefore Abraham's bosom is not the same as the limbo of hell.

Objection 3. Further, the Church prays not that a man be taken to hell: and yet she prays that the angels may carry the departed soul to Abraham's bosom. Therefore it would seem that Abraham's bosom is not the same as limbo.

On the contrary, The place whither the beggar Lazarus was taken is called Abraham's bosom. Now he was taken to hell, for as a gloss [St. Gregory, Moral. xx] on Job 30:23, "Where a house is appointed for every one that liveth," says: "Hell was the house of all the living until the coming of Christ." Therefore Abraham's bosom is the same as limbo.

Further, Jacob said to his sons (Genesis 44:38): "You will bring down my grey hairs with sorrow to hell": wherefore Jacob knew that he would be taken to hell after his death. Therefore Abraham likewise was taken to hell after his death; and consequently Abraham's bosom would seem to be a part of hell.

I answer that, After death men's souls cannot find rest save by the merit of faith, because "he that cometh to God must believe" (Hebrews 11:6). Now the first example of faith was given to men in the person of Abraham, who was the first to sever himself from the body of unbelievers, and to receive a special sign of faith: for which reason "the place of rest given to men after death is called Abraham's bosom," as Augustine declares (Gen. ad lit. xii). But the souls of the saints have not at all times had the same rest after death; because, since Christ's coming they have had complete rest through enjoying the vision of God, whereas before Christ's coming they had rest through being exempt from punishment, but their desire was not set at rest by their attaining their end. Consequently the state of the saints before Christ's coming may be considered both as regards the rest it afforded, and thus it is called Abraham's bosom, and as regards its lack of rest, and thus it is called the limbo of hell. Accordingly, before Christ's coming the limbo of hell and Abraham's bosom were one place accidentally and not essentially: and consequently, nothing prevents Abraham's bosom from being after Christ's coming, and from being altogether distinct from limbo, since things that are one accidentally may be parted from one another.

Reply to Objection 1. The state of the holy Fathers as regards what was good in it was called Abraham's bosom, but as regards its deficiencies it was called hell. Accordingly, neither is Abraham's bosom taken in an unfavorable sense nor hell in a favorable sense, although in a way they are one.

Reply to Objection 2. The place of rest of the holy Fathers was called Abraham's bosom before as well as after Christ's coming, but in different ways. For since before Christ's coming the saints' rest had a lack of rest attached to it, it was called both hell and Abraham's bosom, wherefore God was not seen there. But since after the coming of Christ the saints' rest is complete through their seeing God, this rest is called Abraham's bosom, but not hell by any means. It is to this bosom of Abraham that the Church prays for the faithful to be brought. Hence the Reply to the Third Objection is evident: and the same meaning applies to a gloss on Luke 16:22, "It came to pass that the beggar died," etc., which says: "Abraham's bosom is the rest of the blessed poor, whose is the kingdom of heaven."

Article 5. Whether limbo is the same as the hell of the damned?

Objection 1. It would seem that the limbo of hell is the same as the hell of the damned. For Christ is said to have "bitten" [Allusion to Hosea 13:14] hell, but not to have swallowed it, because He took some from thence but not all. Now He would not be said to have "bitten" hell if those whom He set free were not part of the multitude shut up in hell. Therefore since those whom He set free were shut up in hell, the same were shut up in limbo and in hell. Therefore limbo is either the same as hell, or is a part of hell.

Objection 2. Further, in the Creed Christ is said to have descended into hell. But he did not descend save to the limbo of the Fathers. Therefore the limbo of the Fathers is the same as hell.

Objection 3. Further, it is written (Job 17:16): "All that I have shall go down into the deepest hell [Douay: 'pit']." Now since Job was a holy and just man, he went down to limbo. Therefore limbo is the same as the deepest hell.

On the contrary, In hell there is no redemption [Office of the Dead, Resp. vii]. But the saints were redeemed from limbo. Therefore limbo is not the same as hell.

Further, Augustine says (Gen. ad lit. xii): "I do not see how we can believe that the rest which Lazarus received was in hell." Now the soul of Lazarus went down into limbo. Therefore limbo is not the same as hell.

I answer that, The abodes of souls after death may be distinguished in two ways; either as to their situation, or as to the quality of the places, inasmuch as souls are punished or rewarded in certain places. Accordingly if we consider the limbo of the Fathers and hell in respect of the aforesaid quality of the places, there is no doubt that they are distinct, both because in hell there is sensible punishment, which was not in the limbo of the Fathers, and because in hell there is eternal punishment, whereas the saints were detained but temporally in the limbo of the Fathers. On the other hand, if we consider them as to the situation of the place, it is probable that hell and limbo are the same place, or that they are continuous as it were yet so that some higher part of hell be called the limbo of the Fathers. For those who are in hell receive diverse punishments according to the diversity of their guilt, so that those who are condemned are consigned to darker and deeper parts of hell according as they have been guilty of graver sins, and consequently the holy Fathers in whom there was the least amount of sin were consigned to a higher and less darksome part than all those who were condemned to punishment.

Reply to Objection 1. When Christ, by His descent, delivered the Fathers from limbo, He is said to have "bitten" hell and to have descended into hell, in so far as hell and limbo are the same as to situation.

This suffices for the Reply to the Second Objection.

Reply to Objection 3. Job descended, not to the hell of the damned, but to the limbo of the Fathers. The latter is called the deepest place not in reference to the places of punishment, but in comparison with other places, as including all penal places under one head. Again we may reply with Augustine (Gen. ad lit. xii): who says of Jacob: "When Jacob said to his sons, 'You will bring down my grey hairs with sorrow to hell,' he seems to have feared most, lest he should be troubled with so great a sorrow as to obtain, not the rest of good men, but the hell of sinners." The saying of Job may be expounded in the same way, as being the utterance of one in fear, rather than an assertion.

Article 6. Whether the limbo of children is the same as the limbo of the Fathers?

Objection 1. It would seem that the limbo of children is the same as the limbo of the Fathers. For punishment should correspond to sin. Now the Fathers were detained in limbo for the same sin as children, namely for original sin. Therefore the place of punishment should be the same for both.

Objection 2. Further, Augustine says (Enchir. xciii): "The punishment of children who die in none but original sin is most lenient." But no punishment is more lenient than that of the holy Fathers. Therefore the place of punishment is the same for both.

On the contrary, Even as temporal punishment in purgatory and eternal punishment in hell are due to actual sin, so temporal punishment in the limbo of the Fathers and eternal punishment in the limbo of the children were due to original sin. If, therefore, hell and purgatory be not the same it would seem that neither are the limbo of children and the limbo of the Fathers the same.

I answer that, The limbo of the Fathers and the limbo of children, without any doubt, differ as to the quality of punishment or reward. For children have no hope of the blessed life, as the Fathers in limbo had, in whom, moreover, shone forth the light of faith and grace. But as regards their situation, there is reason to believe that the place of both is the same; except that the limbo of the Fathers is placed higher than the limbo of children, just as we have stated in reference to limbo and hell (5).

Reply to Objection 1. The Fathers did not stand in the same relation to original sin as children. For in the Fathers original sin was expiated in so far as it infected the person, while there remained an obstacle on the part of nature, on account of which their satisfaction was not yet complete. On the other hand, in children there is an obstacle both on the part of the person and on the part of nature: and for this reason different abodes are appointed to the Fathers and to children.

Reply to Objection 2. Augustine is speaking of punishments due to some one by reason of his person. Of these the most lenient are due to those who are burdened with none but original sin. But lighter still is the punishment due to those who are debarred from the reception of glory by no personal defect but only by a defect of nature, so that this very delay of glory is called a kind of punishment.

Article 7. Whether so many abodes should be distinguished?

Objection 1. It would seem that we should not distinguish so many abodes. For after death, just as abodes are due to souls on account of sin, so are they due on account of merit. Now there is only one abode due on account of merit, namely paradise. Therefore neither should there be more than one abode due on account of sin, namely hell.

Objection 2. Further, abodes are appointed to souls after death on account of merits or demerits. Now there is one place where they merit or demerit. Therefore only one abode should be assigned to them after death.

Objection 3. Further, the places of punishment should correspond to the sins. Now there are only three kinds of sin, namely original, venial, and mortal. Therefore there should only be three penal abodes.

Objection 4. On the other hand, it would seem that there should be many more than those assigned. For this darksome air is the prison house of the demons (2 Peter 2:17), and yet it is not reckoned among the five abodes which are mentioned by certain authors. Therefore there are more than five abodes.

Objection 5. Further, the earthly paradise is distinct from the heavenly paradise. Now some were borne away to the earthly paradise after this state of life, as is related of Enoch and Elias. Since then the earthly paradise is not counted among the five abodes, it would seem that there are more than five.

Objection 6. Further, some penal place should correspond to each state of sinners. Now if we suppose a person to die in original sin who has committed only venial sins, none of the assigned abodes will be befitting to him. For it is clear that he would not be in heaven, since he would be without grace, and for the same reason neither would he be in the limbo of the Fathers; nor again, would he be in the limbo of children, since there is no sensible punishment there, which is due to such a person by reason of venial sin: nor would he be in purgatory, where there is none but temporal punishment, whereas everlasting punishment is due to him: nor would he be in the hell of the damned, since he is not guilty of actual mortal sin. Therefore a sixth abode should be assigned.

Objection 7. Further, rewards and punishments vary in quantity according to the differences of sins and merits. Now the degrees of merit and sin are infinite. Therefore we should distinguish an infinite number of abodes, in which souls are punished or rewarded after death.

Objection 8. Further, souls are sometimes punished in the places where they sinned, as Gregory states (Dial. iv, 55). But they sinned in the place which we inhabit. Therefore this place should be reckoned among the abodes, especially since some are punished for their sins in this world, as the Master said above (Sent. iv, D, 21).

Objection 9. Further, just as some die in a state of grace and have some venial sins for which they deserve punishment, so some die in mortal sin and have some good for which they would deserve a reward. Now to those who die in grace with venial sins an abode is assigned where they are punished ere they receive their reward, which abode is purgatory. Therefore, on the other hand, there should be equally an abode for those who die in mortal sin together with some good works.

Objection 10. Further, just as the Fathers were delayed from obtaining full glory of the soul before Christ's coming, so are they now detained from receiving the glory of the body. Therefore as we distinguish an abode of the saints before the coming of Christ from the one where they are received now, so ought we to distinguish the one in which they are received now from the one where they will be received after the resurrection.

I answer that, The abodes of souls are distinguished according to the souls' various states. Now the soul united to a mortal body is in the state of meriting, while the soul separated from the body is in the state of receiving good or evil for its merits; so that after death it is either in the state of receiving its final reward, or in the state of being hindered from receiving it. If it is in the state of receiving its final retribution, this happens in two ways: either in the respect of good, and then it is paradise; or in respect of evil, and thus as regards actual sin it is hell, and as regards original sin it is the limbo of children. On the other hand, if it be in the state where it is hindered from receiving its final reward, this is either on account of a defect of the person, and thus we have purgatory where souls are detained from receiving their reward at once on account of the sins they have committed, or else it is on account of a defect of nature, and thus we have the limbo of the Fathers, where the Fathers were detained from obtaining glory on account of the guilt of human nature which could not yet be expiated.

Reply to Objection 1. Good happens in one way, but evil in many ways, according to Dionysius (Div. Nom. iv) and the Philosopher (Ethic. ii, 6): wherefore it is not unfitting if there be one place of blissful reward and several places of punishment.

Reply to Objection 2. The state of meriting and demeriting is one state, since the same person is able to merit and demerit: wherefore it is fitting that one place should be assigned to all: whereas of those who receive according to their merits there are various states, and consequently the comparison fails.

Reply to Objection 3. One may be punished in two ways for original sin, as stated above, either in reference to the person, or in reference to nature only. Consequently there is a twofold limbo corresponding to that sin.

Reply to Objection 4. This darksome air is assigned to the demons, not as the place where they receive retribution for their merits, but as a place befitting their office, in so far as they are appointed to try us. Hence it is not reckoned among the abodes of which we are treating now: since hell fire is assigned to them in the first place (Matthew 25).

Reply to Objection 5. The earthly paradise belongs to the state of the wayfarer rather than to the state of those who receive for their merits; and consequently it is not reckoned among the abodes whereof we are treating now.

Reply to Objection 6. This supposition is impossible [Cf. I-II, 89, 6]. If, however, it were possible, such a one would be punished in hell eternally: for it is accidental to venial sin that it be punished temporally in purgatory, through its having grace annexed to it: wherefore if it be annexed to a mortal sin, which is without grace, it will be punished eternally in hell. And since this one who dies in original sin has a venial sin without grace, it is not unfitting to suppose that he be punished eternally.

Reply to Objection 7. Diversity of degrees in punishments or rewards does not diversify the state, and it is according to the diversity of state that we distinguish various abodes. Hence the argument does not prove.

Reply to Objection 8. Although separated souls are sometimes punished in the place where we dwell, it does not follow that this is their proper place of punishment: but this is done for our instruction, that seeing their punishment we may be deterred from sin. That souls while yet in the flesh are punished here for their sins has nothing to do with the question, because a punishment of this kind does not place a man outside the state of meriting or demeriting: whereas we are treating now of the abodes to which souls are assigned after the state of merit or demerit.

Reply to Objection 9. It is impossible for evil to be pure and without the admixture of good, just as the supreme good is without any admixture of evil. Consequently those who are to be conveyed to beatitude which is a supreme good must be cleansed of all evil. wherefore there must needs be a place where such persons are cleansed if they go hence without being perfectly clean. But those who will be thrust into hell will not be free from all good: and consequently the comparison fails, since those who are in hell can receive the reward of their goods, in so far as their past goods avail for the mitigation of their punishment.

Reply to Objection 10. The essential reward consists in the glory of the soul, but the body's glory, since it overflows from the soul, is entirely founded as it were on the soul: and consequently lack of the soul's glory causes a difference of state, whereas lack of the body's glory does not. For this reason, too, the same place, namely the empyrean, is assigned to the holy souls separated from their bodies and united to glorious bodies: whereas the same place was not assigned to the souls of the Fathers both before and after the glorification of souls.

The Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas
Second and Revised Edition, 1920
Literally translated by Fathers of the English Dominican Province
Online Edition Copyright © 2008 by Kevin Knight
Nihil Obstat. F. Innocentius Apap, O.P., S.T.M., Censor. Theol.
Imprimatur. Edus. Canonicus Surmont, Vicarius Generalis. Westmonasterii.
APPROBATIO ORDINIS
Nihil Obstat. F. Raphael Moss, O.P., S.T.L. and F. Leo Moore, O.P., S.T.L.
Imprimatur. F. Beda Jarrett, O.P., S.T.L., A.M., Prior Provincialis Angliæ

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