How do Catholics in Heaven suffer?


I know this is a very strange question, because in Heaven is everlasting bliss. All pain is supposed to end, or at least so I have believed. However, it seems as though in some sense, suffering still exists even among the saints in Heaven, and I want to know what this means or how it can be, or if I’m wrong . . . I’m confused, so any clarification on this point would help me.

1 Corinthians 12 says that all Catholics are one Body of Christ. When one part of the Body suffers, every part suffers, the Scripture says. The whole Body works and functions together as one . . . those parts on Earth and in Heaven. 1 Corinthians 12 says there is no division and suffering in one part is felt by every part.

Jesus expressed this very distinctly when He called out to Saul on the road to Damascus, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” He felt the suffering of His Body on Earth, even though He was in eternal bliss in Heaven, and He responded.

In Zecharaiah 1:12-13, we read of an angel feeling distress because of God’s wrath against Jerusalem. In what to me is one of the most touching parts of the Bible, the Scripture says that God spoke comforting words to the angel. I just love that image, God comforting an angel deeply distressed because of man’s suffering.

The apparition of Our Lady of La Salette, approved by the Church, presents a Virgin Mary suffering deeply because of mankind’s sufferings. There have been numerous other apparitions that parallel this, miraculously weeping statues and paintings, and sufferings described in Christ and Mary’s Hearts.

All of this suggests that even those in Heaven can suffer. I am puzzled as to how this connects with the passage that says that in Heaven, every tear shall be wiped away and every wound healed. Or is that referring to the New Heaven and New Earth that shall be formed at the end of time, and not to the joys of Heaven? I suspect it applies to both, though perhaps in its fullest sense in the New Heaven and New Earth.

This question of how people suffer in Heaven and how this differs from suffering on Earth is a puzzle to me. I wonder if any of you can enlighten me on it? :confused: I suspect the kind of suffering in Heaven is at least partly of a different kind from our suffering on Earth. But I don’t understand the theological answers to these questions.


Perhaps the word ‘suffering’ is misplaced and ‘empathy’ is indicated.


There is no suffering or sadness in Heaven, rather there is eternal joy.

CCC 1821 We can therefore hope in the glory of heaven promised by God to those who love him and do his will. In every circumstance, each one of us should hope, with the grace of God, to persevere “to the end” and to **obtain the joy of heaven, as God’s eternal reward **for the good works accomplished with the grace of Christ. In hope, the Church prays for “all men to be saved.” She longs to be united with Christ, her Bridegroom, in the glory of heaven:

Hope, O my soul, hope. You know neither the day nor the hour. Watch carefully, for everything passes quickly, even though your impatience makes doubtful what is certain, and turns a very short time into a long one. Dream that the more you struggle, the more you prove the love that you bear your God, and the more you** will rejoice one day with your Beloved, in a happiness and rapture that can never end.**


Your quotes don’t prove your statement. They prove that there is eternal joy in Heaven, something I have never refuted, but they haven’t said there isn’t sorrow or suffering too. In fact, St. Paul wrote that he had learned to have joy in all circumstances, including hardship and pain. So it’s possible for those in Heaven to experience joy and suffering simultaneously.

But I do think it is a doctrine of the Church (though I could be wrong) that in Heaven suffering is abolished, so I want to understand whether or not they suffer in a different “sense” than those on Earth suffer, somehow. I want to understand how the sources I provided in my above quote can be true while at the same time the abolishment of suffering takes place. I’m also interested in knowing if I’ve misunderstood the abolishment of suffering.

Trishie, that may well be, but empathy can create sorrow and sorrow is a form of suffering. Besides, the 1 Cor. 12 passage I brought up says that when one part of the Body “suffers,” the whole Body suffers.

My goal is not to generate confusion but to end my own confusion.


They don’t, you can’t suffer in heaven. They can, however pray for you. This is a very powerful thing they can do for you.


I have a thought. The St. Paul quote I just brought up has gotten me thinking. While 1 Cor. 12 does say that when one part of the Body suffers, every part suffers, for those in Heaven, this suffering may not be experienced as suffering in the sense we’re used to it. St. Paul writes that he takes joy in all circumstances, including hardship and pain, and St. Therese of Lisieux said that she had reached the point where she could no longer suffer, because every suffering was pure joy to her in Christ Jesus.

I think these are the words that make sense of the “suffering” in Heaven. While they experience deep sorrow or pain because of the suffering of the Body on Earth, ALL this suffering is pure joy to them in Christ Jesus. They rejoice so much in God, accepting all things from Him in joy, that to suffer in His Body is also joy to them. There is, therefore, no real “suffering” for those in Heaven, just as St. Therese’s sufferings became nothing but joy to her when she drew so close to God.

I suspect that this is the answer, or fairly close to the answer or a part of the answer, anyway. Though I could be mistaken. I want to ask a priest :).


Idle speculation.

Man’s great, true hope which holds firm in spite of all disappointments can only be God—God who has loved us and who continues to love us “to the end,” until all “is accomplished” (cf. Jn 13:1 and 19:30). Whoever is moved by love begins to perceive what “life” really is. He begins to perceive the meaning of the word of hope that we encountered in the Baptismal Rite: from faith I await “eternal life”—the true life which, whole and unthreatened, in all its fullness, is simply life. Jesus, who said that he had come so that we might have life and have it in its fullness, in abundance (cf. Jn 10:10), has also explained to us what “life” means: “this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (Jn 17:3). (Pope Benedict XVI, Spe Salvi, 27)


Fair enough :). I’m not saying this is a question that would be interesting to everyone.

And thank-you very much for your excellent quote from Pope Benedict!


I’m not sure that love wouldn’t *demand *suffering-or at least a burden for those still struggling with sin/evil - that is, until creation is no longer under its’ sway and God becomes all in all.


Yeah, that’s what I tend to think. In fact, those in Heaven are perfect, so they would be that much more compassionate and sorrowful for our sufferings. As 1 Corinthians 12 says, “when one part of the Body suffers, every part suffers,” for there is no division in the Body. However, I think that the point St. Paul and St. Therese brought up is very important for understanding the nature of this “suffering” in Heaven. For St. Therese writes that she cannot suffer anymore, because all suffering is joy to her now because it unites her to Christ. St. Paul writes the same, that he takes joy in everything, including suffering. These two lost the ability to suffer because of how close they came to God. No suffering was suffering to them anymore; it was all sweetness. That is extraordinary, and I think it reflects the condition of those in Heaven that “suffer.” Their suffering is pure sweetness because they are so in love with God and so loving of everything that comes to them from His hand. At least, because of St. Therese’s and St. Paul’s comments, that’s what I’m increasingly coming to think.


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