Saturday, July 21, 2007

"Saints Revisited", Revisited

In a past post, I put in some quotes I gave for an article about the Saints that appeared in my local secular newspaper. A seminary contemporary of mine e-mailed me brought to light some things I did not know about the Saints, and I think it's pretty interesting stuff. Here's what he sent me:

You posted on your blog this quote from yourself: "Once you get into heaven it's not like there are different levels of saints," Toborowsky says. "Sanctity is not a contest like the Olympics, where a fraction of a second can make a difference. All of us are called to finish the race,and whether it's the best known or the most obscure saint, they all enjoy the same rewards."

Actually, there are different levels of saints, based on their degree of charity. The good thief is not on the same level as the Blessed Virgin. Every saint has a different degree of happiness based on their merits, as well as their charity. The more charity one has, the deeper one sees the essence of God. St. Augustine compares it to a boy and a man, who have suits made of the same material. The boy does not want the man's because it does not fit him, and vice-versa. In other words, everyone will be perfectly happy without being envious of anyone who has greater glory than they themselves possess. If the saints could wish for anything, it would be that everyone would be higher than himself, because that would mean the others have a greater degree of charity, and hence God would be loved more.

St. Thomas Aquinas says:"On the contrary, The more one will be united to God the happier will one be. Now the measure of charity is the measure of one's union with God. Therefore the diversity of beatitude will be according to the difference of charity. Further, "if one thing simply follows from another thing simply, the increase of the former follows from the increase of the latter." Now to have beatitude follows from having charity. Therefore to have greater beatitude follows from having greater charity. I answer that, The distinctive principle of the mansions or degrees of beatitude is twofold, namely proximate and remote. The proximate principle is the difference of disposition which will be in the blessed, whence will result the difference of perfection in them in respect to the beatific operation: while the remote principle is the merit by which they have obtained that beatitude. In the first way the mansions are distinguished according to the charity of heaven, which the more perfect it will be in any one, the more will it render him capable of the Divine clarity, on the increase of which will depend the increase in perfection of the Divine vision. In the second way the mansions are distinguished according to the charity of the way. For our actions are meritorious, not by the very substance of the action, but only by the habit of virtue with which they are informed. Now every virtue obtains its meritorious efficacy from charity [Cf. I-II, 114, 4], which has the end itself for its object [Cf. II-II, 24, 3, ad 1. Hence the diversity of merit is all traced to the diversity of charity, and thus the charity of the way will distinguish the mansions by way of merit."

Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange says:"Clarity gives to the body of the saints that brightness,that splendor, which is the very essence of the beautiful. Our Lord says: "Then shall the just shine as the sun in the kingdom of their father." To give an idea of this quality, He was transfigured before His apostles on Tabor. St. Paul says: "Jesus Christ will reform the body of our lowness, made like to the body of His glory." The Israelites in the desert saw an image of this glory on the forehead of Moses, after He had seen God and received God's words. He was so luminous that their eyes could not endure the splendor. This clarity is but a reflection, an overflowing, of the glory of the soul on that of the body. Hence the bodies of the saints will not all have the same degree of clarity, but each will have the degree proportioned to its light of glory. Thus St. Paul says: "Star differeth from star in glory, so also is the resurrection of the dead."

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