Help me with definition of "levels of Heaven"


#1

I struggled for years trying to understand how great saints could exist in the same heavenly light as those who “barely made it” by simply refraining from mortal sin. It didn’t seem just. Then, I discovered that it is Church teaching that all are not, indeed, equal in heaven, that thre are several levels based on the sanctity of one’s soul at death. Ah, now this made sense. However, it is then often pointed out that all, while not experiencing God on the same “level,” are completely happy. The classic example is a pitcher of water and a thimble both containing water. Each is full. Now again I am plunged into non-comprehension. It seems as if we’re back to saying that all in heaven are equal, at least in happiness. Why not be a thimble if you’ll never notice the difference?


#2

It is not that you will not know the difference it is that you will not envy those how have achieved, thought the Grace of God, a greater place in heaven and they in turn will not lord it over you. If you are in a lower place you will praise God that you are where you are and you will praise God for allowing others to achieve greater.

Please excuse the semi-Pelagian use of language - I did not know of a better way to phrase it.


#3

It seems as if we’re back to saying that all in heaven are equal, at least in happiness.

Remember the parable in the Bible about the workers who toiled in the field all day, and got the same wage as the workers who were hired late in the day? And how the workers who started early felt cheated?

It is Matthew Chapter 20.

Beyond the obvious teaching of “The last shall be first…”. the parable teaches that God rewards human beings according to an unexpected goodness—although this teaching functions not as encouragement but as warning. God’s kindness, in this regard analogous to Jesus’ moral imperatives, satisfies justice and then goes further. So the less deserving may receive as much as the more deserving. Like the Spirit, the divine grace blows where it wills. That destroys all human reckoning and therefore all presumption.


#4

This answer might help:

ewtn.com/vexperts/showresult.asp?RecNum=442043&Forums=0&Experts=8&Days=2005&Author=&Keyword=Heaven&pgnu=1&groupnum=0&record_bookmark=11&ORDER_BY_TXT=ORDER+BY+ReplyDate+DESC&start_at=

Also this book may help you (although I’m not sure since I haven’t read it myself):
ewtn.com/vcatalogue/pages/itemdetail.asp?itemcode=2732&source=searchresult.asp&keyword=Triumph&g_than=1&l_than=2000&pgnu=1&category=BOOKS&eventcode=


#5

One will want a higher degree of glory in heaven, because it gives more glory to God.

To want it for any less reason, this will probably in fact detract from your merit.


#6

I read somewhere an analogy concerning the filling of glasses to their brims. In heaven, we are all perfectly happy inasmuch as we have the capacity for that happiness. So to use the analogy, some glasses are smaller, some are larger, but they’re all as full as they can be.


#7

[quote=awalt]Remember the parable in the Bible about the workers who toiled in the field all day, and got the same wage as the workers who were hired late in the day? And how the workers who started early felt cheated?

It is Matthew Chapter 20.

Beyond the obvious teaching of “The last shall be first…”. the parable teaches that God rewards human beings according to an unexpected goodness—although this teaching functions not as encouragement but as warning. God’s kindness, in this regard analogous to Jesus’ moral imperatives, satisfies justice and then goes further. So the less deserving may receive as much as the more deserving. Like the Spirit, the divine grace blows where it wills. That destroys all human reckoning and therefore all presumption.
[/quote]

Exactly. After all, any goodness we have is a product of God’s grace. We don’t get to say, “Oh that man who converted on his deathbed, he’ll definitely be beneath me in Heaven, because I’ve been doing things * for God* my whole life .” The Lord favors us by working through us and then rewarding us for what He Himself has done. We owe all to Him, and He really doesn’t owe us anything.


#8

Alterum,

The water analogy is precisely the one I pointed out in my post. But again, someone has to make sense of it for me. How is it just that someone who squeaks into heaven by merely staying out of mortal sin is a happy as Mother Teresa who was a great saint? No, the water analogy is a contradiction because something different is not the same.


#9

[quote=knute]Alterum,

The water analogy is precisely the one I pointed out in my post. But again, someone has to make sense of it for me. How is it just that someone who squeaks into heaven by merely staying out of mortal sin is a happy as Mother Teresa who was a great saint? No, the water analogy is a contradiction because something different is not the same.
[/quote]

Where did Mother Teresa’s good come from? God, Whom she loved. Where did the “squeaker’s” good come from? God, Whom he maybe loved a little less. Both of them are going to be happy to serve and worship God in Heaven. You seem to be operating from the position that God somehow owes something to “good people,” as though those people’s good were to be fully credited to them. This is a falsehood. See the above posts.


#10

Kristina,

"You seem to be operating from the position that God somehow owes something to “good people,”

It’s not my opinion that there are levels in heaven, it’s defined church teaching. Since I first discovered it, I’ve read it in a number of reputable sources–from St. Tomas Aquinas to just last night in St. Teresa of Avila’s Interior Castle" Jesus also says we will be rewarded according to our deeds. What I’m having trouble digesting is how it happens that all are completely happy in such a system and why it it is just. A thimble of water is simply not the same as a glass and everyone should be able to recognze that.


#11

If I were to find myself in the very last lowest place in heaven, I would be so happy…

I have zero interest in playing golf with Jesus.

One of my priest friends said that maybe I could get a job in St. Anthony’s office.

I could be the sweeper.


#12

[quote=Kristina P.] The Lord favors us by working through us and then rewarding us for what He Himself has done. We owe all to Him, and He really doesn’t owe us anything.
[/quote]

I read somewhere that, since everything we have is given to us by God, there is only ONE thing of value we can give to HIM. . . our Free Will. Surrendering our Free Will to God does NOT make us slaves, it sets us free.

It acknowledges that God loves us and knows what is best for us. It is that total abandonment to the Will of God that is the measuring stick of the greatest of our Saints.


#13

Consider that the thimble was created to be precisely that and has lived up to all that God designed for it; thus it rejoices in being what God has designed and is joyful in the beauty of the fulfillment of His designs for other vessels large and small. St. Therese of Lisieux saw herself as a little flower, not as a grand rose, and rejoiced in her littleness.


#14

[quote=knute]Kristina,

"You seem to be operating from the position that God somehow owes something to “good people,”

It’s not my opinion that there are levels in heaven, it’s defined church teaching. Since I first discovered it, I’ve read it in a number of reputable sources–from St. Tomas Aquinas to just last night in St. Teresa of Avila’s Interior Castle" Jesus also says we will be rewarded according to our deeds. What I’m having trouble digesting is how it happens that all are completely happy in such a system and why it it is just. A thimble of water is simply not the same as a glass and everyone should be able to recognze that.
[/quote]

Then I simply misunderstood your original question. I apologize.


#15

Someone here suggested God might love the “squeaker” a little bit less than Mother Theresa. God loves everyone infinitely!

Those who go to Heaven will glorify God. Since we can’t truly comprehend Heaven, abundant grace, living as a Spirit, God Himself, the Trinity, and more, I suspect this may be a specific answer that you won’t get for awhile. Isn’t it sufficient that Gd has told us that those who go to Heaven to share eternity with Him?

How abut this for the best answer we have gotten:

“Rejoice and be glad, because your reward is great in Heaven” (Mt 5:12)


#16

[quote=knute]Alterum,

The water analogy is precisely the one I pointed out in my post. But again, someone has to make sense of it for me. How is it just that someone who squeaks into heaven by merely staying out of mortal sin is a happy as Mother Teresa who was a great saint? No, the water analogy is a contradiction because something different is not the same.
[/quote]

“… because something different is not the same …”

Well, in this case it is the same :rolleyes:

Let me give you a very real example. I am a big drinker when it comes to my meals. I’ll usually consume at least two full glasses and sometimes I’ll be on my third before I finish eating. My wife, on the other hand, rarely makes it past one and usually doesn’t even finish all of that.

She obviously needs less liquid with her meal than I do. She has her fill with that one glass of water. She doesn’t care that I have three glasses to drink. She is in no way envious or jealous that I had three times as much to drink as she did. As a matter of fact, if she HAD TO drink as much as I did, she would be less satisified than if she had the amount that she had.

It will be the same way in heaven. We will each have our fill based upon our level of reward that we receive. Some of us will receive only a thimble while others of us may receive an olympic size swimming pool. The point is that we will be happy with what we have because that is right for us and not be envious of those that might have more than we do just like it doesn’t bother my wife that I consume more water with my meal than she does.


#17

Good examples.

How about this one: If I give you an allowance of $1 BILLION per week (with all prices as they are now), plus a private airliner with a crew and ten fully staffed mansions around the world, so you don’t have to bother with carrying suitcases with you, and your very own university with research and teaching staff and your very own vacation resort with instructors in every sport, and etc more stuff and also …perfect health, perfect eyesight, perfect understanding, perfect continuous ecstasy, and a staff person ombudsman to provide anything else you might need (e.g., set up a golf date foursome with Jesus, Moses, and St. Peter) [Jesus, being God, the Son of God, is INFINITE, so he could play more than one golf game at a time] .

And if I give Mother Theresa an allowance of $50 BILLION per week, and etc… would you feel slighted in the least?


#18

There is a book I have given as gifts several times:

A Travel Guide to Heaven by Anthony DeStefano.

Superb!!! An easy read and enjoyable. Secret: the author put the imprimatur in the back. Solid book. And fun.

Get the book. Read it.


#19

[quote=Al Masetti]Good examples.

How about this one: If I give you an allowance of $1 BILLION per week (with all prices as they are now), plus a private airliner with a crew and ten fully staffed mansions around the world, so you don’t have to bother with carrying suitcases with you, and your very own university with research and teaching staff and your very own vacation resort with instructors in every sport, and etc more stuff and also …perfect health, perfect eyesight, perfect understanding, perfect continuous ecstasy, and a staff person ombudsman to provide anything else you might need (e.g., set up a golf date foursome with Jesus, Moses, and St. Peter) [Jesus, being God, the Son of God, is INFINITE, so he could play more than one golf game at a time] .

And if I give Mother Theresa an allowance of $50 BILLION per week, and etc… would you feel slighted in the least?
[/quote]

With such astronomical amounts, any differences, while real, no longer matters. How much more with regards the incomprehensible nature of heavenly happiness itself?

Gerry


closed #20

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.