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Saints, the Magisterium, and Theologians on Beatitude

St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274):


Summa Theologica (See also de Veritate q. 18, 1)
Beatitude consist of 1) a perfection of the one who is beatified and 2) a knowledge of the good
possessed. God supplies the means whereby His essence is known. This means is called the
lumen gloriae or the Light of Wisdom.
I, Q. 26, art. 3: Whether God is the beatitude of each of the blessed?
Objection 1. It seems that God is the beatitude of each of the blessed. For God is the supreme
good, as was said above (6,2 and 4). But it is quite impossible that there should be many
supreme goods, as also is clear from what has been said above (11,3). Therefore, since it is of
the essence of beatitude that it should be the supreme good, it seems that beatitude is nothing else
but God Himself.
Objection 2. Further, beatitude is the last end of the rational nature. But to be the last end of the
rational nature belongs only to God. Therefore the beatitude of every blessed is God alone.
On the contrary, The beatitude of one is greater than that of another, according to 1 Cor. 15:41:
"Star differeth from star in glory." But nothing is greater than God. Therefore beatitude is
something different from God.
I answer that, The beatitude of an intellectual nature consists in an act of the intellect. In this we
may consider two things, namely, the object of the act, which is the thing understood; and the act
itself which is t6 understand. If, then, beatitude be considered on the side of the object, God is the
only beatitude; for everyone is blessed from this sole fact, that he understands God, in accordance
with the saying of Augustine (Confess. v, 4): "Blessed is he who knoweth Thee, though he know
nought else." But as regards the act of understanding, beatitude is a created thing in beatified
creatures; but in God, even in this way, it is an uncreated thing.
Reply to Objection 1. Beatitude, as regards its object, is the supreme good absolutely, but as
regards its act, in beatified creatures it is their supreme good, not absolutely, but in that kind of
goods which a creature can participate.
Reply to Objection 2. End is twofold, namely, "objective" and "subjective," as the Philosopher
says (Greater Ethics i, 3), namely, the "thing itself' and "its use." Thus to a miser the end is
money, and its acquisition. Accordingly God is indeed the last end of a rational creature, as the
thing itself; but created beatitude is the end, as the use, or rather fruition, of the thing.
Translated by the Fathers of the English Dominican Province. Copyright 1947 Benzinger
Brothers Inc.

Pope Benedict XII, Constitution Benedictus Deus (Denz. 530)


"The souls of the just see the divine essence by an intuitive, face-to-face vision, with no
creature as a medium of vision, but with the divine essence immediately manifesting itself to
them, clearly and openly."
Council of Florence: "Decree for the Greeks" (Denz. 693)
"Souls immediately upon entrance into heaven see clearly the one and triune God as he is,
one more perfectly than another, depending on their merits."
Royo & Aumann, Christian Perfection.
"But since the divine essence takes the place of the intelligible species for the intellect of the
blessed, the intellect needs something over and above its own natural powers in order to enjoy
the beatific vision. This is actually the light of glory (lumen gloriae), the need for which is
upheld by the Council of Vienne, which condemned the opposite opinion (Cf. Denz 475). The
nature of the lumen gloriae is not deqned, but according to Thomistic teaching it is a created
quality divinely infused into the intellect whereby it is intrinsically perfected and elevated (Cf. St.
Thomas, Summa, I, q. 12, aa. 5-7; I-II, q. 5, a. 6, ad 2.). As infused charity vitalizes and
supernaturalizes the will, so the lumen gloriae supernaturalizes and elevates the intellect, and
both somehow arise from sanctifying grace, which is infused into the essence of the soul." (27
28)