Levels of or in heaven?


#1

Dear Scholars,

At work a lady is in RCIA and last session she said they discussed heaven and the teacher said there were levels in heaven. I’ve never heard of this in Catholic ideology.

I am looking to get Catholic references for or against this position.

Thank you in advance.
Pax Christi
-B.


#2

That this is so can be deduced from Paul’s reference to a “fourth heaven” (2Co 12:2) “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven–whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows.”

From The Rosary Light and Life Page:

In this life we cannot begin to imagine the fullness of beatitude that every soul in heaven will enjoy, with every desire of their heart fulfilled:

“Eye has not seen nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man what God has prepared for those who love Him.” (I Cor. 2:9)
Every soul in heaven will be perfectly happy, with mind and heart (the will) in direct union with the Divine Persons who are infinite TRUTH and infinite LOVE. While the soul will have every desire and aspiration completely fulfilled, all will not have the same capacity of sharing in God’s life and truth and love, and therefore, in His infinite beatitude. A large cup and a small cup may be equally full of water, not capable of another drop, yet the capacity of each may differ considerably. So too, the cup of happiness of each soul will be full to the brim, but the capacity of each soul will differ according to the growth of grace.

   Our Blessed Lord referred to this when He said "in My Father’s house there are many mansions" (Jn. 14:2), i.e. many degrees of sharing in the glory that the Father has given to the Son. St. Paul speaks of the same in different language: 

“The sun has a splendor of its own, so has the moon, and the stars have theirs. Even among the stars one differs from another in brightness. So it is with the resurrection of the dead.” (I Cor. 15:41)

To see the whole article:
rosary-center.org/ll42n6.htm


#3

[quote=b_justb]Dear Scholars,

At work a lady is in RCIA and last session she said they discussed heaven and the teacher said there were levels in heaven. I’ve never heard of this in Catholic ideology.

I am looking to get Catholic references for or against this position.

Thank you in advance.
Pax Christi
-B.
[/quote]

I don’t know if the Church has an official position on this or not. It is doubtful since revelation is relatively vague on Heaven except that it a “place” where we get to spend eternity in communion and in the presence of God.

I have read conjecture from noted theologians who advocate that while people in Heaven will be there for eternity with God, there will be a distinction based on Love. This distinction is the greater we developed and showed our love for God on Earth, the greater we will be able to love God and experience His love in Heaven. For instance, while both St. Francis and a deathbed conversion result in both being in Heaven, St. Francis wil be able to better enjoy a greater experience of God’s Love.

The piece that I read did site some Scripture to support this theory. As I don’t recall even where I read it, I have no idea on how to get a site for this piece.

Personally, I think that this conjecture while interesting can be distracting of the real goal. As we say in the Act of Contrition, while sorry for our sins because we dread the loss of Heaven, most of all we are sorry because they offend God and diminish our Love for God. We are called to Love God and Love others not because of the eternal reward but because God is the source of all our gifts and we should be grateful and then submit and accept His final verdict as we know God is just and merciful.


#4

I believe there are. Generally, our individual experience of Heaven will vary according to our capacity for Love, something which we develop throughout our lives. While it may seem perfect to us, others who have a greater capacity may have a more profound and intimate experience of God.

From what I understand, the highest level is called the Beatific Vision; seeing the face of God.

I don’t have any references, though. Sorry. Search the forums, though, as I think I may have even posted this question before =).

Peace,
javelin


#5

If you search on this forum, there have been some lengthy threads discussing this.

One of the most popular analogies is that heaven for us will fulfill us to our own maximum - our joy will fill us, given our own specific capacity, even though others may have a greater capacity. It’s like we are all cups of different sizes. All the cups will be full, so we will be completely and total joyous, but others may have larger cups.


#6

Thank you all for your posts!

I haven’t seen anything referenced from Catholic doctrine, however.

My main reason for asking wasn’t to hear the speculation side of the thread, but what the Catholic Church authoritatively teaches about it, if anything at all. Because my fellow work mate is in RCIA I would hope she is being taught what the Church teaches not what various people speculate.

Thanks again, and thanks for the continuing, if they come :slight_smile:


#7

[quote=javelin]I believe there are. Generally, our individual experience of Heaven will vary according to our capacity for Love, something which we develop throughout our lives. While it may seem perfect to us, others who have a greater capacity may have a more profound and intimate experience of God.

From what I understand, the highest level is called the Beatific Vision; seeing the face of God.

I don’t have any references, though. Sorry. Search the forums, though, as I think I may have even posted this question before =).

Peace,
javelin
[/quote]

All in Heaven enjoy the Beatific Vision…that is the greatest joy of Heaven, that there we behold the Face of our Creator. Even so, as has been said, some of us will enjoy a greater degree of the Beatific Vision than others will.
Recall the Parable of the Talents…he who earned ten more, was put in charge of ten cities. He who earned five more, was put in charge of five cities. Yet both were told “Enter into the joy of your Lord.”


#8

Yes, it is a dogma of the Church:

The degree of perfection of the beatific vision granted to the just is proportional to each one’s merit. (de Fide)

This was declared by the Council of Florence and then further defined at Trent.


#9

I think if you look to The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri. This very famous work details a walk through levels of hell, purgatory, and heaven in Dante’s Inferno, Purgatorio, Paradiso.

Much Catholic though is influenced by this famous poetry. Now the question of how doctrinally accurate his poetry is is another question. I’m not sure of that…

Archive of Classic Poems
Poetry of Dante Alighieri
The Divine Comedy (translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)


#10

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