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September 20, 2005

Ch. XXX. Q. 160. What Receptacles of Departed Souls have been distinguished?

FIVE RECEPTACLES of departed souls have been distinguished by theologians, viz.: (a.) heaven, or paradise, wherein the souls of just men made perfect are received: (b.) limbus patrum, where the ancient patriarchs were detained until after the descent of Christ into hell and His exaltation: (c.) limbus puerorum, where those are received who die in a blameless state but without the grace of regeneration: (d.) purgatory, where souls are detained which are in a state of salvation but are not yet made perfect: (e.) hell, where the souls of obstinate sinners are received immediately after death.1

2. S. Thomas argues that holy souls gravitate inevitably to the source of their holiness, and that the saints commence to enjoy the beatific vision so soon as they become perfect; although their perfect consummation of bliss cannot occur until the reunion of soul and body in the final resurrection. This conclusion has been too widely accepted in the Church, both East and West, to be rejected without rashness. The term paradise is not accurately applied to the Intermediate State of the faithful in general, but refers, since the Incarnation, according to biblical and patristic use, to the place where our Lord's Body is locally and visibly present.2 Since the Ascension that place is at the Father's right hand.3 Certain Anglican divines do not accept the position here taken; but their attitude is apparently an accident of controversy, being the result partly of fear lest the saints should be unduly exalted, and partly of opposition to the unhealthy but popular protestant notion that all the saved, however imperfect, enter upon glory at the moment of death.4

3. Limbus patrum, which was undoubtedly emptied or merged into paradise when our Lord delivered the spirits in prison5, is called in Holy Scripture "Abraham's bosom"6, "paradise"7 and "hell"8. Wherever it was9, there the Old Covenant saints waited for Christ's appearance and preaching.10

4. Limbus puerorum corresponds to the middle place or state to which certain Christian Fathers have thought blameless heathen (children in knowledge), as well as unbaptized infants, will be consigned after the judgment, and in which they will enjoy a natural beatification, since they are spiritually incapable of the supernatural life of heaven and its beatific vision of God.11 This is purely speculative; but the mere possibility of its truth shows that men can believe in the justice of God without being troubled either by the teaching that entrance into heaven depends, since the Christian dispensation, upon Baptism, or by the doctrine that the eternal reward of every man is determined according to the deeds done in the body (cf. Q. 159. 3-5).12

5. Christian souls must, as a rule, pass after death into an Intermediate State, called Purgatory by the Latins, for purification and further progress towards perfection (Q. 161); or else into hell, the place of the damned, to await certain and irreversible judgmpnt (Q. 166). The contents of revelation concerning the future state of the heathen and invincibly ignorant are fragmentary. Certain opinions may appear reasonable and most consistent with the doctrine of the Divine nature, but the whole subject belongs to the realm of pious opinion.

1 S. Luke XVI. 22, 23, and whence they never depart except for the general judgment. S. Thos., III. sup. 69. esp. arts. 1, 9: Schouppe, XIX. 44-106: Luckock's Informed. State, ch. XV.

2 cf. S. Luke XXIII. 43

3 I. Cor. XIII. 12: II. Cor. XII. 4: Heb. XIL 22-24: Rev. II. 7: XIV. 1-6

4 S. Thos., III. sup. 69. 2: 93.1: Percival's Digest, 167, 168, 255-284: Pearson, IX. 630, 634: XII. 694: Trident: Catech. ch. 10. q. 5: Burial Office, the first of the closing prayers: Westminster Confes., ch. XXXII: Cornel. A Lapide in II. Cor. V. 8, and Phil. I. 23, 24: Forbes' N. Creed, 269-271, 314, 328-331: Blunt's Theol. Dic., "Beatific Vision": Schouppe, XIX. 47, 53-58: Orth. Conf. Q. 67.

5 Heb. IX. 8

6 S. Luke XVI. 22

7 S. Luke XXIII. 43

8 Psa. XVI. 10

9 cf. Ephes. IV. 9: S. Luke XVI. 23

10 I. Pet. III. 19, 20. S. Thos., III. sup. 69. 4, 5: Schouppe, XIX. 62-65: Luckock.

11 cf. S. John III. 5

12 S. Thos., III. sup. 71: Schouppe, XIX. 66-84: Percival, 125: Forbes' N. Creed, 305: Pusey's What is of Faith, 8-11.

Posted by Trevor at September 20, 2005 05:30 PM