Will those in Heaven have an understanding of Hell?

This is a thought that occurred to me a little while ago, and I was curious about other people’s opinions.

Do those who have received the gift of Heaven have any understanding of those in Hell? My question arises because Hell is the state of the complete absence of God’s light. I hold that those in Heaven could not even remotely contemplate this because they are in the full presence of God.

So, what does everyone else think? Is there any Scripture that talks about the subject?

I don’t know that there is definitive proof on the subject, but I was be very surprised indeed if souls in Heaven couldn’t see those in Hell.

The Angelic Doctor St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-7 March 1274) has considered this matter as his affirmative answer can be found from the Supplement of the Summa Theologica. (S. th., Supp., q. 94)

On the contrary, It is written (Isaiah 66:24): “They shall go out and see the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against Me”; and a gloss says: “The elect will go out by understanding or seeing manifestly, so that they may be urged the more to praise God.”

I answer that, Nothing should be denied the blessed that belongs to the perfection of their beatitude. Now everything is known the more for being compared with its contrary, because when contraries are placed beside one another they become more conspicuous. Wherefore in order that the happiness of the saints may be more delightful to them and that they may render more copious thanks to God for it, they are allowed to see perfectly the sufferings of the damned.

I hate to belittle St. Aquinas’ opinion, but that almost sounds like we’ll revel and take delight in their suffering… That doesn’t sound very Catholic to me… Though there’s a good chance I’m misinterpreting the tone.

You are misinterpreting, I think. There should be no rejoicing in the punishment of others according to Aquinas. Any rejoicing will be indirect - praise for the salvation of the elect and God’s justice.

I answer that, 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 should perhaps refrain from posting but this topic has piqued my interest:

i imagine man in God’s presence
all glory is His
gazing deep into His Being
all Goodness, all mysteries revealed
countless lives lived in time
struggles and suffering incurred in doing His will
joy at the return of prodigal sons
the contrast with those who fell and their gnashing of teeth

i don’t know but
it could be that the freedom that comes with doing God’s will
enables us to face the horrors of hell, because we know Him and live in light
the wicked have become their wickedness,
they cannot move from there, because that is what/who they are
Satan is the burning lake of sulphur

i know what it is to sin
having repented
and with God’s grace i am free
i will always know what it is/was like

just some thoughts

Some might say that those suffering in Purgatory have glimpses of what it is like for those in hell. And most I think will pass through Purgatory; albeit for some a very short stay.

I agree with you up to a point because there is no reason to believe being in heaven makes a person omniscient! But I think the blessed understand to a certain extent what it must be like to be isolated from God because otherwise they wouldn’t fully appreciate being in His presence. They wouldn’t dwell on such a negative subject when they have so many positive sources of joy and inspiration… :slight_smile:

Accordingly St. Thomas of Aquin has considered that Purgatory and Hell could either be in the same location or proximate to each other. The pains of Purgatory have been called by St. Augustine greater than any suffering in this world and St. Alphonsus de Liguori relates the Holy Souls would rather endure anything than be deprived for an instant of their union with God. Furthermore St. Catherine of Genoa says it is better to suffer for thousand years here than one hour in Purgatory.

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.