Can we feel sorrow in heaven for the damned?

I received this post from an atheist:

Perhaps the worst part of the hell-vision was theologians’ insistence that
the joy of the blessed ones in heaven couldn’t be complete unless they
were permitted to gloat over the sufferings of the damned. St. Gregory
the Great assumed with appalling naturalness that the “good” people in
heaven would be entirely without pity. St. Thomas Aquinas wrote: “In
order that nothing may be wanting to the felicity of the blessed spirits
in heaven, a perfect view is granted to them of the tortures of the
damned.” Other fathers of the church proclaimed that, while the greatest
pleasure of the saved would be contemplating the Divine Essence, their
second greatest pleasure would be watching the damned writhing in hell.
They couldn’t feel sorry for loved ones or friends in torment, because
their opinions would always be identical with God’s; and God apparently
reveled in sinners’ pain.

Thomas of Cantimpre mentioned some “simple folk” who worried about having
to watch former friends or relatives suffering in hell. He said these
worries were foolish, because no one in heaven could grieve for anything.
He cited the Blessed Marie d’Oignies, who saw in a vision that her dead
mother was damned, and so stopped mourning for her at once.

St. Bernardino of Siena argued that heaven must be perfect, and
perfection couldn’t be achieved without “due admixture of groans from the
Damned.” Only a few people were good enough to be saved; the vast
majority would go to hell. This was the orthodox opinion. Raymond Lull
was condemned as a heretic for trying to teach that Christ’s mercy would
save nearly all men. Christ was not that merciful…

Can anyone explain to be the correct Catholic theological position on the issue of whether or not we feel sorrow for the damned on reaching heaven?


AP Quinn

That is a good question but I don’t know any information to provide you. Personally, I think they are well aware of the punishment of the damned, but their focus is not on those being damned.

When they are in Heaven, they will follow God perfectly - praise and worship Him and pray for those who still live on Earth and in Purgatory. To them, they would love everybody with the same love - there is no distinction. Perhaps, God takes away all their earthly attachments that they no longer feel the pain seeing their loved ones - father, mother, siblings, or children falling to Hell. If this were not true, we would feel sorrow forever.

Here is an explanation from Fr Rumble in Radio Replies Vol.1

939. How could a mother be happy in heaven with her child in hell?

She could not, were her view of things limited by her present inadequate ideas. But with an unclouded view of what really constitutes goodness, and of what really constitutes evil, she will have very different estimates in heaven which will render happiness not only possible but a fact.

Let us try to grasp it. Hell being a fact, our lack of understanding makes no difference. And in any case, Christ loved the child more than did the mother herself, yet He is happy in heaven. So there must be some way out. You see, we cannot interpret heaven in terms of this life. Here we are natural beings, our natural love directly awakened by our fellow beings.

But in heaven God Himself will be the direct object of our love. We shall love God, what God loves, and as God loves. All other beings will be loved in God. Thus Christ said concerning the difference of human love in heaven that marriage shall not exist, but that men will be “as the angels of God in heaven.” Matt. XXII., 30.

Merely natural love will change to supernatural love in and through God, and people will be lovable in so far as they resemble God. If a son dies unrepentant, having identified himself with wickedness, then he will be the opposite of God. The mother will experience an absolute necessity to love God, who is pure, just, holy, and truth itself. And she will find complete happiness in doing so.

Her natural love for her son gives way to a supernatural love for him if he is pure, just, holy, and truthful. But it gives way to her love for God if her child is impure, unjust, wicked, and essentially a liar, as is the father of lies himself. Her transfer to heaven has changed her reasons for loving her son, and if he dies in such evil dispositions she has no supernatural reason to love him. All her happiness is in God, and that happiness cannot be disturbed.

This may sound difficult. It must. For we are trying to explain conditions of heaven by ideas drawn from our earthly experience, ideas which do not go far enough. The explanation gives a solution as far as the limited mind of man can go. And if it astonishes human reason, we should be more astonished still if our limited powers could fully grasp the matter.

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