Schadenfreude for the damned?

I have heard that part of the joy of Heaven is seeing the damned get what they deserve. Is this true? It sounds rathe callous, to say the least.

Where did you hear it?

Not from the Church.

I’ve heard this attributed to the earlier writings of Saint Thomas Aquinas. Either way, it’s nothing to do with some sick pleasure in seeing pain in others. In the fullness of understanding in the light of God, it will be good to know true justice is being carried out, and, on the flip side of that, true mercy.

John Calvin described that as the damned were cast into Hell, the saints would cry for joy at their demise. The opposite is true, I think. Those in Heaven have perfect charity, right? (See St. Augustine’s On Christian Doctrine, Book 23-26 or so.)

God wills that all would be saved (1 Timothy 2:3-4).

Yes, it’s in the Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas, Supplement, Question 94. The salient parts are excerpted below:
Article 3: Whether the blessed rejoice in the punishment of the wicked?

Objection 1. It would seem that the blessed do not rejoice in the punishment of the wicked. For rejoicing in another’s evil pertains to hatred. But there will be no hatred in the blessed. Therefore they will not rejoice in the unhappiness of the damned. …]

On the contrary, It is written (Psalm 57:11): “The just shall rejoice when he shall see the revenge.” …]

I answer: A thing may be a matter of rejoicing in two ways. First directly, when one rejoices in a thing as such: and thus the saints will not rejoice in the punishment of the wicked. Secondly, indirectly, by reason namely of something annexed to it: and in this way the saints will rejoice in the punishment of the wicked, by considering therein the order of Divine justice and their own deliverance, which will fill them with joy. And thus the Divine justice and their own deliverance will be the direct cause of the joy of the blessed: while the punishment of the damned will cause it indirectly.

I’d read all three articles entire with an open mind, before passing judgment on the merits of this reasoning.

It is a true teaching, and you should watch these two videos for help. I too struggled with this when I found out about it, but I see that it has a good answer.

This one is by Trent Horn:

By Tim Staples:

We aren’t rejoicing for their saddness for no apparent reason, because God is infinitely just, but we are rejoicing at justice being carried out, the way we would know that the conviction of a very guilty person was a good thing

All the best for you on your Faith journey

Maybe the people in Heaven do not know who is actually in Hell.

It may be that they just don’t see them, and they don’t know where they are.

I think the reference is the second death in Revelation which might have something to do with it. Either way, the videos that one poster linked and other resources point to the idea that the saints are glad that justice was served, not necessarily that anyone was damned.

Summary: To a person in Heaven, it might not matter who is in Hell, it matters that justice is served.

God’s justice is perfect. It’s not callous, nor based on sick pleasure. The joy will be the revelation and understanding the perfection of justice and mercy is achieved. Not in the sense if human terms, but of God’s.
Your “joy” will be on the manifestation of perfection of justice.

To put it another way. Not a single person who should not be in hell will be in hell.

What happens if they ask God to reunite them with a relative who isn’t also in Heaven?

They would understand perfectly why he or she was not in Heaven, and that understanding would be good enough.


Even so it would still be sad for that person. It is possible for someone to be saddened by something and at the same time understand why it is necessary.

Read C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce. There’s a part in which a woman is trying to persuade her husband to stay in heaven, while he grows smaller and smaller, and his evil alter ego, at the end of his chain, grows larger and larger, until the husband is gone, reduced to a smidgen, She stands up and says “Who are you? I don’t know you, sir.”

Keep in mind, It’s not the will of God that anyone should die, but that all should turn from their wickedness and live.


These things said, we should realize that the next life is going to be a lot more different and we’ll (if in Heaven) be able to view this as God does. We’ll see the justice and his mercy. We will know that the justice or mercy (no matter who it’s made out to) is a very good thing.

That said, we can still pray for everyone who is still alive (especially those in mortal sin) and in purgatory (though they are certain to be saved once they are purified), and for people who died but whose state we are unsure.

You guys can start by praying for me :smiley:

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