Different Rewards in Heaven?

Hi all!

My question is simple; I’m writing a blog entry currently that touches upon the differences of reward in Heaven–that is, that there are different degrees of reward in Heaven, based upon one’s merit here on earth… It occurs to me, as I search through the Catechism, I cannot find exactly where the Church teaches this. Have I misunderstood something, or am I overlooking the official source of the teaching? A Catechism quote would be excellent. I know the Biblical basis for it, but I’m wondering where the Catechism would confirm that this is how the Church explicitly understands it.


Blessings in Christ,

I think I know the Catechism pretty well, but I can’t place that one.

Where in Scripture does it suggest that there are different rewards in Heaven according to merit?

I can think of passages that suggest otherwise, like the Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard, Matthew 20:1-16.

I’d say the reason you can’t find it in the catechism is because it’s not there.
And that if you somehow understood that the church teaches that there are different degrees of reward in heaven, I’d say you misunderstood.
It’s also possible that you misunderstood whatever biblical basis you know (which, out of curiosity is?).
You might need to re-think your blog entry.

I couldn’t find it in the Catechism, but some searching found the following from the Council 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.”


Apparently it’s also in the Council of Trent somewhere.

The blog post at marysaggies.blogspot.com/2011/02/different-levels-to-heaven.html may help explain it. As to scripture passages - there are many mansions, etc.

St. Therese of Lisieux – a Doctor of the Church! – seems to think there are different rewards in heaven.

You knew all my intimate thoughts and cleared up all my doubts. I once told you how astonished I was that God does not give equal glory in heaven to all His chosen. I was afraid they were not at all equally happy. You [her sister Pauline] made me bring Daddy’s tumbler and put it by the side of my thimble. You filled them both with water and asked me which was fuller. I told you they were both full to the brim and that it was impossible to put more water in them than they could hold. And so, Mother darling, you made me understand that in heaven God will give His chosen their fitting glory and that the last will have no reason to envy the first. By such means, you made me understand the most sublime mysteries and gave my soul its essential food.

–St. Thérèse of Lisieux, The Story of a Soul. (New York: Double Day, 2001) 20.

Note that her understanding is that as we grow in grace, our capacity for heavenly rewards increases. As I tell my son, do you want to be a thimble or an Olympic-sized swimming pool in heaven? :smiley:

This isn’t a Catholic site, but it is interesting and seems to be based in scripture:


Thanks, guys. I knew that I’d heard/read about this teaching, but I wasn’t sure where to confirm it. Thanks!

As for the Biblical basis, in Luke’s parable of the ten coins, there is the notion that the servants who made more of their coins are in turn given more cities–they were all given the same number of coins (one) and yet some did more with their coin than others, this is the implicit reason their rewards are different. It’s only a parable, true, but the quotes from Gertabelle and Iron Donkey suggest that, in context with Tradition, that detail (different rewards) was not just “thrown in” with no real relevance. Although I do think, of course, that it has more to do with “capacity” than with there being a literal reward that varies in size/amount or something like that.

Thanks for your replies!

Blessings in Christ,

From what I understand, Heaven and Hell are more like a spectrum. The torments of Hell are proportionate to the number and gravity of the sins from which you refuse to repent and the glory of Heaven is proportionate to your merits or capacity for charity.

The Catechism, while not enunciating this detail, does cite the passage from Florence that Iron Donkey provided, when speaking of Heaven:

[quote=CCC]1022 Each man receives his eternal retribution in his immortal soul at the very moment of his death, in a particular judgment that refers his life to Christ: either entrance into the blessedness of heaven-through a purification 594 or immediately,595 – or immediate and everlasting damnation.596 At the evening of life, we shall be judged on our love.597

594 Cf. Council of Lyons II (1274): DS 857-858; Council of Florence (1439): DS 1304- 1306; Council of Trent (1563): DS 1820.
595 Cf. Benedict XII, Benedictus Deus (1336): DS 1000-1001; John XXII, Ne super his (1334): DS 990.
596 Cf. Benedict XII, Benedictus Deus (1336): DS 1002.
597 St. John of the Cross, Dichos 64.

Thanks Genesis!

Blessings in Christ,

Every act of virtue done for the sake of God in this life is treasure in Heaven. As it was done in Christ it’s true value is beyond our comprehension, we do not appreciate it here on earth as we should, but in the next life, we appreciate it forever, an everlasting memory and reward.

Every minute on this earth is precious. For should we gain salvation, and should we have used that minute with pure intention and virtuously for the sake of God – it is of priceless value forever.

The beatific vision of God for those who go to Heaven is not of the same extent for all.

“There are various degrees of beatitude in heaven corresponding to the various degrees of merit. This is a dogma of faith, defined by the Council of Florence (Denz., n. 693 — old, n. 588).” - E.

‘It has likewise defined, that, if those truly penitent have departed in the love of God, before they have made satisfaction by the worthy fruits of penance for sins of commission and omission, the souls of these are cleansed after death by purgatorial punishments; and so that they may be released from punishments of this kind, the suffrages of the living faithful are of advantage to them, namely, the sacrifices of Masses, prayers, and almsgiving, and other works of piety, which are customarily performed by the faithful for other faithful according to the institutions of the Church. And that the souls of those, who after the reception of baptism have incurred no stain of sin at all, and also those, who after the contraction of the stain of sin whether in their bodies, or when released from the same bodies, as we have said before, are purged, are immediately received into heaven, and see clearly the one and triune God Himself just as He is, yet according to the diversity of merits, one more perfectly than another. Moreover, the souls of those who depart in actual mortal sin or in original sin only, descend immediately into hell but to undergo punishments of different kinds.’

  • The Ecumenical Council of Florence

‘Virgins enjoy many privileges. They will have gold crowns, they alone will sing the canticle, they will wear the same garments that Christ wears, they will always march after the Lamb himself.’

St. Jerome

‘AND I looked, and behold a Lamb stood upon mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty four thousand having his name, and the name of his Father written in their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of great thunder: and the voice which I heard, as of harpers harping on their harps. And they sang as it were a new song before the seat and before the four beasts, and the seniors, and no man could ‘say’ the song, but those hundred forty four thousand, that were bought from the earth. These are they which were not defiled with women. For they are virgins. These follow the Lamb withersoever he shall go. These were bought from among men, the first fruits to God and the Lamb: And in their mouth there was found no lie. for they are without spot before the throne of God.’

Apocalypse 14:1-5

‘JESUS said to him, If thou wilt be perfect, go sell the things thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come follow me. And when the young man had heard this word, he went away sad: for he had many possessions. And JESUS said to his Disciples, Amen I say to you, that a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to pass though the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven. And when they had heard this, the disciples marveled very much, saying, Who then can be saved? And JESUS beholding, said to them. With men this is impossible: but with God all things are possible. Then Peter answering, said to him, Behold we have left all things, and have followed thee: what therefore shall we have? And JESUS said to them, Amen I say to you, that you which have followed me, in the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit in the seat of his majesty, you also shall sit upon twelve seats, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands for my names sake: shall receive an hundred fold, and shall possess life everlasting. And many shall be first, that are last: and last, that are first.’

Matthew 19:21-30

- 103 Quotes on Heaven

Yes there is perfect proportional glory in Heaven and punishment in Hell. There is even a proportionate aspect to purgatory.

Some of the following verses will highlight this proportionality (bold and ul mine). I did not specifically sort out Heaven and Hell (but trusted the readers here to make those distinctions).

MATTHEW 16:27 27 For the Son of man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay every man for what he has done.

ROMANS 2:6-8 6 For he will render to every man according to his works: 7 to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; 8 but for those who are factious and do not obey the truth, but obey wickedness, there will be wrath and fury.

2nd CORINTHIANS 5:10 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive good or evil, according to what he has done in the body.

REVELATION 22:12 12 "Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense, to repay every one for what he has done.

PROVERBS 24:12 12 If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not requite man according to his work?

HEBREWS 10:28-29 28 A man who has violated the law of Moses dies without mercy at the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much worse punishment do you think will be deserved by the man who has spurned the Son of God, and profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and outraged the Spirit of grace?

MATTHEW 11:21-24 21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! woe to you, Beth-saida! for if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I tell you, it shall be more tolerable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 23 And you, Caperna-um, will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. 24 But I tell you that it shall be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.”

An excerpt from our local men’s Bible study on Hell . . . .

The punishment of the damned is proportioned to each one’s guilt. There is not equality of pain for those in hell but rather a disparity based on their guilt in this life, or as the council of Lyons and Florence asserted; the souls of the damned are punished with unequal punishments (“poenis tamen disparibus puniendas”). St. Augustine in the 400’s A.D. affirming that justice demands that punishment be proportional to the guilt of a person states “In their wretchedness the lot of some of the damned will be more tolerable than that of others.”

Some other considerations . . . .

CCC 679 Christ is Lord of eternal life. Full right to pass definitive judgment on the works and hearts of men belongs to him as redeemer of the world. He “acquired” this right by his cross. The Father has given “all judgment to the Son”.587 Yet the Son did not come to judge, but to save and to give the life he has in himself.588 By rejecting grace in this life, one already judges oneself, receives according to one’s works, and can even condemn oneself for all eternity by rejecting the Spirit of love.589

CCC 682 When he comes at the end of time to judge the living and the dead, the glorious Christ will reveal the secret disposition of hearts and **will render to each man according to his works, and according to his acceptance or refusal of grace. **

CCC 1039a In the presence of Christ, who is Truth itself, the truth of each man’s relationship with God will be laid bare.626 The Last Judgment will reveal even to its furthest consequences the good each person has done or failed to do during his earthly life . . .

And . . .

ST. THOMAS AQUINAS I answer that, Punishment is proportionate to sin. Now sin comprises two things. First, there is the turning away from the immutable good, which is infinite, wherefore, in this respect, sin is infinite. Secondly, there is the inordinate turning to mutable good. In this respect sin is finite, both because . . . .

St. Therese of Lesieux used the famous analogy all in Heaven having their own drinking cup completely full. She stated some have a full large drinking mug while others have a full thimble to illustrate this point of proportionate heavenly blessings.

Hope this helps.

God bless.


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