● CCC 1023 says, Those who die in God’s grace and friendship and are perfectly purified [whether in this life, or in the next life in Purgatory] live forever with Christ. They are like God forever, for they “see him as he is,” face to face.
● Since the Passion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ, these souls have seen and do see the divine essence with an intuitive vision, and even face to face, without the mediation of any creature.1
● “vision” of God, again, is not to be understood as “seeing” God with human eyeballs. God is pure spirit and as such cannot be “seen.”
● “vision of God” is a directly intuited and intellectual vision.
● The faithful who endure to the end and so are saved will “see God,” but with an intellectual “vision” or comprehension of God.
● Each person will “see” or comprehend God in the beatific vision in accordance with his own capacity dictated to him by his state of grace at the moment of death. And this state of grace is determined by both the gift of God and the degree to which the blessed cooperated with that grace during his earthly sojourn.
● we can understand why the Church teaches heaven to be primarily a state rather than a place.
● The blessed will be in a state of comprehension of God that is constant. They can’t leave heaven and then go back to heaven precisely because heaven is principally a state of being.
● Heaven is principally a state of utter and absolute fulfillment. In the possession of God in the beatific vision the blessed will experience
● According to St. Thomas Aquinas, our intellects will be so illuminated by God to empower us to be able to “see God” in the beatific vision that an ancillary effect of this empowering will be the comprehension of “the whole order of the universe.”
● To quote St. Thomas: “The intellect which is elevated by divine light in order to see God’s substance is much more perfected by this same light, so that it may understand all other objects that exist in the nature of things.2”
● Four “characteristics” or “gifts” that will be communicated to the blessed in heaven:
● 1) Subtility – This gift entails the absolute subordination of the body to the soul. So radical is this subordination that it will empower us to be able to pass through a wall as Jesus did in the Upper Room
● 2) Agility – according to St. Thomas, the blessed in heaven, even after receiving their bodies in the resurrection, will be able to travel at the speed of thought
● 3) Impassibility – In simple terms, this means the blessed in heaven cannot suffer and cannot die
● 4) Glory - the Church teaches the blessed will shine with the glory of God so brilliant that it is believed by some that we on earth could not stand to even behold one of the blessed in heaven if he were revealed in all of his glory!