"levels of heaven"?


The other day, my non-Catholic husband and I were discussing religion (quite civilly, as a matter of fact!) and he made mention of the fact that “no one will be closer to God than anyone else in heaven” (or something to that effect). It seems to me that there actually are Bible passages that speak of different “degrees” of closeness to God, that different souls will experience in Heaven. However, I don’t know why I think that - can’t come up with any specifics, other than “the last shall be first…etc,” which may or may not be a reference to this topic. Does this make sense?

I hope I’m not duplicating an already existing thread topic; I tried to do a search, but didn’t come up with anything. Thanks!


Matthew 18:4
Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

If one will be greatest, then it is only logical that others will be less great.

However, we are promised that everyone will be perfectly happy in heaven. How can that be? I heard this analogy to describe it:

There are 3 water containers. The first holds 1 ounce of water, the second holds 1 pint of water, and the third holds 1 gallon. If you fill each of them to the top,

  1. which one holds the most water?
  2. which one is most full?

They don’t all hold the same amount of water, but each is completely full.

Now, the containers are human souls, and the water is love.

God bless you,


That’s a great analogy!


The Catholic Encyclopedia has this to say:

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). The Bible teaches this truth in very many passages (e.g., wherever it speaks of eternal happiness as a reward), and the Fathers defend it against the heretical attacks of Jovinian.

The various degrees of beatitude are not limited to the accidental blessings, but they are found first and foremost in the beatific vision itself. For, as we have already pointed out, the vision, too, admits of degrees. These essential degrees of beatitude are, as Suárez rightly observes (“De beat.”, d. xi, s. 3, n. 5), that threefold fruit Christ distinguishes when He says that the word of God bears fruit in some thirty, in some sixty, in some a hundredfold (Matt., xiii, 23). And it is by a mere accommodation of the text that St. Thomas (Supp:96, aa. 2 sqq.) and other theologians apply this text to the different degrees in the accidental beatitude merited by married persons, widows, and virgins.


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