Wednesday, June 06, 2007

St. Thomas Aquinas on the Abodes of the Dead

St. Thomas Aquinas distinguishes five abodes of the dead to which souls are conveyed immediately after death,{1} viz. Heaven/Paradise (the just receive final retribution in respect of the good), limbo of the Fathers (the holy Fathers did not initially receive their final reward due to the defect of nature, the guilt of which could not at the time of their death be expiated because Christ's Passion had not occurred), Purgatory (the just who have not attained their final reward due to the defect of their person, i.e. the venial sins they have committed and not been washed of), limbo of the children (final retribution in respect of original sin, i.e. the sin of omission, but without sensible punishment e.g. by fire{2}), and the Hell of the lost (final retribution in respect of actual mortal sin, i.e. sin of commission).

St. Thomas distinguishes the limbo of the patriarchs from the limbo of children. He says that the fathers have faith and grace and go to Heaven but the children have no hope of the blessed life because they lack both, whereas the fathers were expiated of original sin insofar as it affected the person but not yet the nature which entailed their stay in limbo. He identifies limbus patrum with Abraham's bosom.{3}

St. Thomas rejects the idea that "the darksome atmosphere" is one of these abodes because it is not the place where the demons receive retribution for their actions, but the place befitting their office,{4} insofar as they are appointed to try us. He also says that earthly (terrestrial) paradise is not one of these abodes because it belongs to the state of the wayfarer rather than to the state of those who receive for their merits (i.e. the comprehensors, the blessed).

Persons can leave the abodes of the dead (e.g. Jesus Christ the Lamb is omnipresent, St. Mary appeared visibly to the people of Zeitoun, Egypt, and Beelzebub{5} and his demons roam the earth).

Notes and References
{1} St. Luke says [Lk 16:22], "And the rich man also died, and he was buried in Hell."
{2} St. Thomas wrote that the children in limbo do not suffer from punishment by corporeal pleasure because there is no pleasure in original sin and fiery punishment is due to pleasure in sin, as St. John the Evangelist says [Rev 18:7], "As much as she has glorified herself and lived in delicacies, so much torment and sorrow give Ye to her. Because she says in her heart: I sit a queen and am no widow: and sorrow I shall not see."
{3} St. Luke says [Lk 16:22], "And it came to pass that the beggar died and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom." We know that Abraham was taken to the hell of limbo because St. Moses says that St. Jacob told his sons [Gen 42:38], "You will bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to hell" and St. Job says [Job 30:23], "I know that You will deliver me to death, where a house is appointed for everyone that lives," meaning that the limbo of hell housed everyone until Christ's Passion, according to Pope St. Gregory I the Great [Moral. xx].
{4} Pope St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles, says [2 Pt 2:17], "These are fountains without water and clouds tossed with whirlwinds, to whom the mist of darkness is reserved."
{5} Beelzebub is the fallen angel Lucifer (God's highest angel), a.k.a. Satan. Contra John Milton, he is not a lesser demon than Satan. See Huysman, Will R. "Satan's Aliases." The Banana Republican. 1 June 2007. 6 June 2007 <http://thebananarepublican.blogspot.com/2007/06/satans-aliases.html>.

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