So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter (2 Thess. 2:15). Guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the godless chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge, for by professing it some have missed the mark as regards faith (1 Tim. 6:21-22).

Monday, August 15, 2016

Aquinas, Angels and the Empyrean Heaven... . Assuming you want to be with God, Mary, the angels and saints.

Paradiso, Vision of the Empyrean (Gustav Doré), Divine Comedy | Wikipedia

Quatuor enim ponuntur simul creata, scilicet caelum Empyreum, materia corporalis (quae nomine terrae intelligitur), tempus, et natura angelica.
Four things are stated to be created together, namely, the empyrean heaven, corporeal matter, (which is meant the earth), the time, and the angelic nature.—source/link
The empyrean heaven is the third heaven to which St. Paul referred in his Second Letter to the Corinthians (2 Cor. 12:2), "the heaven where the angels and Saints dwell for all eternity. There, the eternal glory of God is manifest to them as their ultimate reward." (R. J. Siscoe)

While it is true that the empyrean heaven is not “in the clouds” (the first heaven), or on “some distant star” (the second heaven), it does not follow that our Lord did not ascend into the empyrean heaven (the third heaven) - the place where He now dwells bodily with His Mother and the angels and Saints. Heaven is more than a “personal relationship with the Trinity”, which is merely, as Bishop Morrow said, “a foretaste of heaven” - something those in the state of grace can possess even in this valley of tears. The created heaven is distinct from the uncreated abode where the Blessed Trinity dwelled before creation. The empyrean heaven, where God has “prepared His throne”, is a created corporeal place where the mansions of the blessed are located, where resurrected bodies of the Saints will dwell for eternity, and where the blessed, having their intellect perfected by the lumen gloriae, will see God face to face and thereby be raised and transformed into a state of perfect beatitude.
With regards to the state of perfect beatitude, Dr. Peter Kwasniewski at 1Peter5 recently reminded us:
The essence of the happiness (Latin, beatitudo) of heaven consists in the direct or “face to face” vision of God (visio beatifica) enjoyed by the good angels and the souls of the just. Pope Benedict XII in the Constitution Benedictus Deus of 1336 states that the blessed “see the divine essence by an intuitive vision and face to face, so that the divine essence is known immediately, showing itself nakedly, clearly, and openly, and not mediately through any creature.” There is nothing else standing between God and the blessed; the latter behold “God, one and three, as He is,” to use the words of the Council of Florence (1438–1445), and in this vision is consummated all their longings for absolute, eternal happiness.
Conversely, after death a human person who has become so completely oriented to himself, possessing a will like that of a fallen angelic spirit (demon, devil) that is incapable of repentance, the eternal destination of said creature is the darkness of hell. The sin of the unrepentant human soul consumes said soul. Death freezes the will in sin. The will of the damned soul is configured to darkness. The darkness is what is most familiar to the endarkened soul. To the damned soul, dark is light and light is dark. The damned soul is trapped in its confusion. The soul chooses sin as its identity. Its will is sin. Can it be said that the unrepentant soul's identity has fallen from its likeness to God to a complete identification with sin, its new and permanent identity?
IV. HELL — Catechism of the Catholic Church
1033 We cannot be united with God unless we freely choose to love him. But we cannot love God if we sin gravely against him, against our neighbor or against ourselves: "He who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him." Our Lord warns us that we shall be separated from him if we fail to meet the serious needs of the poor and the little ones who are his brethren. To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God's merciful love means remaining separated from him for ever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called "hell."
1037 God predestines no one to go to hell; for this, a willful turning away from God (a mortal sin) is necessary, and persistence in it until the end. In the Eucharistic liturgy and in the daily prayers of her faithful, the Church implores the mercy of God, who does not want "any to perish, but all to come to repentance".
Like the angels, we are created in the image and likeness of God. Human beings, however, are not angels. For starters, we have physical bodies. We are enfleshed souls. At death, the soul is fixed in her orientation to God or, if unrepentant, fixed in her orientation to mortal sin. We, if welcomed into heaven, will be "like" the angels, as in "similar to" but not the same. We will be like the angels in that we will share in the beatific vision of the Most Holy Trinity that the angels currently enjoy.
(I)t should be pointed out that both angels and men were created in the image and likeness of God. What's more, this original perfection of nature and grace is brought to a higher perfection of nature and grace in those who get to heaven. And so, since the assimilation of the holy angels in heaven, then, is already completed in their state of glory when we finally get to heaven, we will become like them, not only in the personal glory which they currently possess, but also in their divinized likeness to God.

(T)he angels are "purely spiritual creatures", they "have intelligence and will: they are personal creatures" (CCC 330). Our souls are also spiritual in nature. We are created for the same final goal and we have received the same sanctifying grace of Christ. [...]

(I)n heaven we will have joined the company of the holy angels. Therefore, we will not only enjoy perfect rest and fulfillment of all desires so that we will be "like the angels" - at peace, immaculately pure, full of joy, light and life - but we will also participate in God's perfection, richness, beauty and glory. [...]—source/link
We, if we have made ourselves unwelcome to/in/for heaven, will share the same circumstance as that of the fallen angels. Alex Brittain puts it well enough about the fallen angels and why they cannot share in the glory of God.
The fact is that Lucifer (now Satan, the Devil) and his angels (demons, devils) cannot repent for their sins.
Their choice is now forever due to their nature and due to the nature of their sin and there is no form of repentance available to them; it is not that God will not allow them to repent but it is that their wills will not allow them to. When they decided to give into sin, they let their sins consume them so much that even if an option were made available for them to repent, they would never chose to do so. (St. John of Damascus - De Fide Orthodoxa 2.4; St. Anselm of Canterbury – On The Fall of the Devil, Chapters 6 and 25; St. Thomas Aquinas – the Summa Theologica, Part 1, Question 63, Article 6). As Paragraph 393 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church states:
It is the irrevocable character of their choice, and not a defect in the infinite divine mercy, that makes the angels' sin unforgivable. "There is no repentance for the angels after their fall, just as there is no repentance for men after death."
Thus, as the Catechism implies, the sin of the fallen angels is akin to the unforgivable sin of blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.
The repentant human soul, however, by the mercy of God, finds its way to purgatory. Perhaps it is better to say that God, the Lover of souls, draws the penitent soul who seeks her Lover, into purification to ready the soul for heaven.
For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble—each man’s work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire—1 Corinthians 3:11-15.—cf. Where is Purgatory in the Bible by Tim Staples
Perhaps a little angel talk will shed additional light on the subject of heaven. Surely a brief wade into the realm of those holy beings created by God will provide the reader with much reason to reflect seriously on what awaits those who keep the Faith and who in hope, following a merciful judgement by God, receive the perfect vision of God.

Let us access the writings of the Angelic Doctor to guide our journey into the sublime realities.

Saint Thomas Aquinas: Summa Theoligica, Objection 61, article 4

Whether the angels were created in the empyrean heaven?
Ad quartum sic proceditur. Videtur quod Angeli non sint creati in caelo Empyreo. Angeli enim sunt substantiae incorporeae. Sed substantia incorporea non dependet a corpore secundum suum esse, et per consequens neque secundum suum fieri. Ergo Angeli non sunt creati in loco corporeo.
Objection 1: It would seem that the angels were not created in the empyrean heaven. For the angels are incorporeal substances. Now a substance which is incorporeal is not dependent upon a body for its existence; and as a consequence, neither is it for its creation. Therefore the angels were not created in any corporeal place.
Praeterea, Augustinus dicit, III super Gen. ad Litt., quod Angeli fuerunt creati in superiori parte aeris. Non ergo in caelo Empyreo.
Objection 2: Further, Augustine remarks (Gen. ad lit. iii, 10), that the angels were created in the upper atmosphere: therefore not in the empyrean heaven.
Praeterea, caelum Empyreum dicitur esse caelum supremum. Si igitur Angeli creati fuissent in caelo Empyreo, non convenisset eis in superius caelum ascendere. Quod est contra id quod ex persona Angeli peccantis dicitur Isaiae XIV, ascendam in caelum.
Objection 3: Further, the empyrean heaven is said to be the highest heaven. If therefore the angels were created in the empyrean heaven, it would not beseem them to mount up to a still higher heaven. And this is contrary to what is said in Isaias, speaking in the person of the sinning angel: "I will ascend into heaven" (Is. 14:13).
Sed contra est quod Strabus dicit, super illud, in principio creavit Deus caelum et terram, caelum non visibile firmamentum hic appellat, sed Empyreum, idest igneum vel intellectuale, quod non ab ardore, sed a splendore dicitur, quod statim factum, Angelis est repletum.
On the contrary, Strabus, commenting on the text "In the beginning God created heaven and earth," says: "By heaven he does not mean the visible firmament, but the empyrean, that is, the fiery or intellectual firmament, which is not so styled from its heat, but from its splendor; and which was filled with angels directly it was made."
Respondeo dicendum quod, sicut dictum est, ex creaturis corporalibus et spiritualibus unum universum constituitur. Unde sic creatae sunt spirituales creaturae, quod ad creaturam corporalem aliquem ordinem habent, et toti creaturae corporali praesident. Unde conveniens fuit quod Angeli in supremo corpore crearentur, tanquam toti naturae corporeae praesidentes; sive id dicatur caelum Empyreum, sive qualitercumque nominetur. Unde Isidorus dicit quod supremum caelum est caelum Angelorum, super illud Deut. X, domini Dei tui est caelum, et caelum caeli.
I answer that, As was observed (Article [3]), the universe is made up of corporeal and spiritual creatures. Consequently spiritual creatures were so created as to bear some relationship to the corporeal creature, and to rule over every corporeal creature. Hence it was fitting for the angels to be created in the highest corporeal place, as presiding over all corporeal nature; whether it be styled the empyrean heaven, or whatever else it be called. So Isidore says that the highest heaven is the heaven of the angels, explaining the passage of Dt. 10:14: "Behold heaven is the Lord's thy God, and the heaven of heaven."
Ad primum ergo dicendum quod Angeli non sunt creati in loco corporeo, quasi dependentes a corpore secundum suum esse vel secundum suum fieri, potuisset enim Deus Angelos ante totam creaturam corporalem creasse, ut multi sancti doctores tenent. Sed facti sunt in loco corporeo, ad ostendendum ordinem eorum ad naturam corpoream, et quod sua virtute corpora contingunt.
Reply to Objection 1: The angels were created in a corporeal place, not as if depending upon a body either as to their existence or as to their being made; because God could have created them before all corporeal creation, as many holy Doctors hold. They were made in a corporeal place in order to show their relationship to corporeal nature, and that they are by their power in touch with bodies.
Ad secundum dicendum quod Augustinus forte per supremam partem aeris intelligit supremam partem caeli, cum quo aer quandam convenientiam habet propter suam subtilitatem et diaphaneitatem. Vel loquitur non de omnibus Angelis, sed de illis qui peccaverunt, qui secundum quosdam fuerunt de inferioribus ordinibus. Nihil autem prohibet dicere quod superiores Angeli, habentes virtutem elevatam et universalem supra omnia corpora, sint in supremo creaturae corporeae creati; alii vero, habentes virtutes magis particulares, sint creati in inferioribus corporibus.
Reply to Objection 2: By the uppermost atmosphere Augustine possibly means the highest part of heaven, to which the atmosphere has a kind of affinity owing to its subtlety and transparency. Or else he is not speaking of all the angels; but only of such as sinned, who, in the opinion of some, belonged to the inferior orders. But there is nothing to hinder us from saying that the higher angels, as having an exalted and universal power over all corporeal things, were created in the highest place of the corporeal creature; while the other angels, as having more restricted powers, were created among the inferior bodies.
Ad tertium dicendum quod loquitur ibi non de caelo aliquo corporeo, sed de caelo sanctae Trinitatis, in quod Angelus peccans ascendere voluit, dum voluit aliquo modo Deo aequiparari, ut infra patebit.
Reply to Objection 3: Isaias is not speaking there of any corporeal heaven, but of the heaven of the Blessed Trinity; unto which the sinning angel wished to ascend, when he desired to be equal in some manner to God, as will appear later on.
Why all the heaven talk?

Jimmy Akin does the heavy lifting at NCRegister on the topic Assumption of Mary body and soul into heaven. Akin cites an appropriate passage by Pope Benedict XVI which speaks of our hoped-for homeland (empyreum) where Mary awaits with her Son the soul's arrival in glory. May Pope Benedict's beautiful writing provide a fitting summation to end this reflection. May each reader of this reflection be reminded of the beautiful avenues that God has provided for us to enter into communion with Him and His Church, not the least of which is the Holy Eucharist, the source and summit of the Christian life.
By contemplating Mary in heavenly glory, we understand that the earth is not the definitive homeland for us either, and that if we live with our gaze fixed on eternal goods we will one day share in this same glory and the earth will become more beautiful.
Consequently, we must not lose our serenity and peace even amid the thousands of daily difficulties. The luminous sign of Our Lady taken up into Heaven shines out even more brightly when sad shadows of suffering and violence seem to loom on the horizon.
We may be sure of it: from on high, Mary follows our footsteps with gentle concern, dispels the gloom in moments of darkness and distress, reassures us with her motherly hand.
Supported by awareness of this, let us continue confidently on our path of Christian commitment wherever Providence may lead us. Let us forge ahead in our lives under Mary's guidance [General Audience, August 16, 2006].

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