Are there levels, ranks or positions in heaven?

Hi all,

A friend mentioned to me the other day that it’s a Catholic teaching that there are certain levels existing in Heaven (or something related to that) where you are closer to God in heaven. It does make sense but on the hand it doesn’t because I thought the teaching was that everyone who does enter heaven is pure and is in perfect unity with the will of the Father.

So is it taught that there are different positions (or levels) in heaven where you are placed, which is based on our lives on earth? e.g. people who devote their lives entirely to God would be closer to God in heaven whereas those who have their full faith and trust in the Lord and bears good fruits but is not as dedicated as the former person would not be at such a high level

If I had to take a guess, I would say there aren’t levels. What do you think? Or what do you KNOW? Note that I haven’t done a proper search through the CCC. Not yet at least.

Here is how this was explained to me:

Imagine a Dixie bathroom cup that hold only a few ounces. Then imagine a 7-Eleven Super Big Gulp cup. Suppose you filled both to the brim, so much so that another droplet of water would spill over.

Both cups are full, but one has more water in it than the other. Yet one still has more water. (Substitute grace for water, and I think you’ll get the idea.)

You are right that all in heaven are pure and in perfect unity with the will of the Father, just like both cups are perfectly full.

So is it taught that there are different positions (or levels) in heaven where you are placed, which is based on our lives on earth? e.g. people who devote their lives entirely to God would be closer to God in heaven whereas those who have their full faith and trust in the Lord and bears good fruits but is not as dedicated as the former person would not be at such a high level

We do know that God is perfectly just. Would it be fair to treat Mother Teresa the same as a mass-murderer who repented at the last moment?

If I had to take a guess, I would say there aren’t levels. What do you think? Or what do you KNOW? Note that I haven’t done a proper search through the CCC. Not yet at least.

I don’t know what the CCC says about this, but I’m sure somebody here can tell us.

ewtn.com/library/COUNCILS/FLORENCE.HTM#2
Session 6—6 July 1439
[Definition of the holy ecumenical [COLOR=“DarkRed”]synod of Florence]


Also, the souls of those who have incurred no stain of sin whatsoever after baptism, as well as souls who after incurring the stain of sin have been cleansed whether in their bodies or outside their bodies, as was stated above, are straightaway received into heaven and clearly behold the triune God as he is, yet one person more perfectly than another according to the difference of their merits.

ewtn.com/library/councils/trent6.htm#2
**Council of Trent **Session 6
Decree Concerning Justification


Canon 32.
If anyone says that the good works of the one justified are in such manner the gifts of God that they are not also the good merits of him justified; or that the one justified by the good works that he performs by the grace of God and the merit of Jesus Christ, whose living member he is, does not truly merit an increase of grace, eternal life, and in case he dies in grace, the attainment of eternal life itself and also an increase of glory, let him be anathema.

And some Scripture passages:
Mt 16:27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father, with his angels: and then will he render to every man according to his works.

1 Cor. 3:8 Now he who planteth, and he who watereth, are one. *And every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.

2 Cor 9:6 Now this I say: He who soweth sparingly, shall also reap sparingly; and he who soweth in blessings, shall also reap of blessings.

Angels have “ranks”: Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, Dominions, Virtues, Powers, Archangels, Principalities, and Angels. catholic.org/saints/angels/angelchoir.php

The Divine Comedy likes to use the angel ranks to apply it to us:

These are associated by Dante with the nine levels of the angelic hierarchy. Dante also relies on traditional associations, such as the one between Venus and romantic love. The first three spheres (which fall within the shadow of the Earth) are associated with deficient forms of Fortitude, Justice, and Temperance. The next four are associated with positive examples of Prudence, Fortitude, Justice, and Temperance; while Faith, Hope, and Love appear together in the eighth sphere.

en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradiso_(Dante

FYI- Dante is huge among gamers and Muslim pop culture today.

I think I once read that martyrs and virgins get extra crowns in Heaven; Is that what you mean?

**vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P2L.HTM

I. The Particular Judgment**

1021 Death puts an end to human life as the time open to either accepting or rejecting the divine grace manifested in Christ.590 The New Testament speaks of judgment primarily in its aspect of the final encounter with Christ in his second coming, but also repeatedly affirms that each will be rewarded immediately after death in accordance with his works and faith.

It makes a lot of sense to me that there will be varying degrees in which we are capable of experiencing the beatific vision.
KayCee gave a good analogy about 2 water-filled cups of different sizes, and thus holding differing amounts of water - yet both experiencing fullness.
The one thing I would add is that we are the ones who control the size of our cup – through our works and faith.

Yes, Jesus tells us the last will be first and the first will be last.

Thought you might enjoy reading St. Augustine’s commentary on John 14:2 * “In my Father’s house there are many mansions…”*newadvent.org/fathers/1701067.htm

  1. … For, albeit one is stronger than another, one wiser than another, one more righteous than another, “in the Father’s house there are many mansions;” none of them shall remain outside that house, where every one, according to his deserts, is to receive a mansion. All alike have that penny, which the householder orders to be given to all that have wrought in the vineyard, making no distinction therein between those who have labored less and those who have labored more: Matthew 20:9 by which penny, of course, is signified eternal life, whereto no one any longer lives to a different length than others, since in eternity life has no diversity in its measure. But the many mansions point to the different grades of merit in that one eternal life. For there is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differs from another star in glory; and so also the resurrection of the dead. The saints, like the stars in the sky, obtain in the kingdom different mansions of diverse degrees of brightness; but on account of that one penny no one is cut off from the kingdom; and God will be all in all in such a way, that, as God is love, 1 John 4:8 love will bring it about that what is possessed by each will be common to all. For in this way every one really possesses it, when he loves to see in another what he has not himself. There will not, therefore, be any envying amid this diversity of brightness, since in all of them will be reigning the unity of love.

Matthew 25:14 “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. 15 To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.** You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. **Enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’

24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest.** 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. **30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

The answer is yes, there are “levels” of Heaven. The more we work to make ourselves open to God, and make ourselves in His image, and conform ourselves to Him, and carry out His commands, the more He will reward us. Those who do the bare minimum, who do only what was asked of them, and nothing more, will not be rewarded the same as those who give their entire lives to God. And those who live a wicked life, and have a deathbed conversion, God will forgive them and allow them into His presence, but they haven’t spent their blood, sweat, tears, and time on following God. They simply have wasted their life in trivial or evil pursuits, and did not take time to make themselves a better receptable of God’s love. As such, they aren’t going to experience all the joy and grace they could have. They will be perfectly happy and content, but they could have been so much more.

In Matthew 5:19 it says:
19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
You will be ranked from ‘least righteous’ to ‘most righteous’ in Heaven, based on how well you paid attention to keeping the Commandments.

Yes but even the one who has the least in Heaven will be extremely happy.

It’s the capacity to love and serve God that matters. Only He can comprehend that capacity.

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