Sunday, October 09, 2005

Will the blessed in heaven be happier after resurrection?

I was thinking about this question: if the blessed in heaven are already perfectly happy because they are enjoying the vision of God, will the resurrection of their bodies make them happier?
It's a problem because it's like saying that God alone isn't enough to make them happier, but that happiness somehow depends on a created thing like a body. Isn't God enough?

The Church teaches, of course, that on the last day our bodies will be resurrected. It's also true that the human being is a very close union of body and soul. Catholics don't think that the body is unimportant because it's made of lowly matter. Through the ages there has always been a current of thought that would look down on matter as being less important that spirit. But that's not the Catholic way.

St. Thomas takes up this question in his Summa, and he says that in heaven the soul already posseses the highest good, in the vision of God. But it doesn't possess it in every possible way until body and soul are united. He's basically turning the question around and looking at it from another angle. God is our absolute source of happiness. But on our part, we're not fully complete until the body and soul will be reunited in the resurrection. So it's not that anything is lacking in God, but we're lacking something until the final resurrection. In the meantime the saints in heaven are happy, but they'll be more completely able to enjoy that happiness after the resurrection.


Moneybags said...

This is a really interesting question - one I've never thought of before. Thank you for posting it. It really made me think.

Silent Rain Drops said...

Sister Lorraine, I agree with Moneybags - this is a very interesting question. In my research about the harmful effects of abortion, I have seen some evidence that the mind/body connection is much stronger and more complex than we may realize; so it makes sense biologically that we are somehow incomplete as disembodied souls. Life touches us and changes us at all levels - mind, body, and soul. And I think these three are too interrelated to be separated in this life or the next.

Thank you for a theological perspective for me to consider. I enjoy your blog very much!