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In this quaestio (Supp. Q94), St Thomas considers how the blessed living in paradise will see the damned.

Do they know the damned exist? will they see their suffering (Article 1)? They do, and they will, says Thomas. This contains a passage that was made famous by the German philosopher Nietzsche:

… Dante, I think, committed a crude blunder when, with a terror-inspiring ingenuity, he placed above the gateway of his hell the inscription "I too was created by eternal love"—at any rate, there would be more justification for placing above the gateway to the Christian Paradise and its "eternal bliss" the inscription "I too was created by eternal hate"—provided a truth may be placed above the gateway to a lie!

For what is it that constitutes the bliss of this Paradise? We might even guess, but it is better to have it expressly described for us by an authority not to be underestimated in such matters, Thomas Aquinas, the great teacher and saint. "Beati in regno coelesti," he says, meek as a lamb, "videbunt poenas damnatorum, ut beatitudo illis magis complaceat." [The blessed in the kingdom of heaven will see the punishments of the damned, in order that their bliss be more delightful for them.]….

(On the Genealogy of Morals First essay: "good and evil," "good and bad" 15.)

In the second article, St Thomas considers whether the blessed will pity the unhappiness of the damned. They will not. For we choose to have compassion when we wish the suffering of others to stop, and so when we do not wish their suffering to stop, we have no such compassion. Since it is impossible to stop the suffering of the damned, and because it would in any case be contrary to Divine justice, the blessed will have no compassion for them.

The blessed will also (article 3) rejoice in the suffering of the damned. Not in their suffering as such, for rejoicing in suffering is a kind of hatred. But indirectly, they will rejoice in the punishment of the damned, by considering in it the order of Divine justice and their own deliverance, which will fill them with joy.

Psalm 57:11: The just shall rejoice when he shall see the revenge.


Latin English
Deinde consideratum est de modo quod se sancti habebunt erga damnatos. Circa quod quaeruntur tria. Primo: utrum sancti poenas damnatorum videant. Secundo: utrum eis compatiantur.

Tertio: utrum de eorum poenis laetuntur.

Next we consider in what way the saints are related to the damned. Concerning which there are three questions.

1. whether the saints see the sufferings of the damned? 2. whether they feel compassion for them? 3. Whether they rejoice in the suffering?

Articulus 1. Utrum beati qui erunt in patria, visuri sint poena damnatorum.

Whether the blessed in heaven will see the sufferings of the damned?
Ad quartum sic proceditur. Videtur quod beati qui erunt in patria, non videant poenas damnatorum. Major enim est distantia damnatorum a beatis quam viatorum. Sed beati semper viatorum facta non vident; unde Isai. 43, 16: Abraham nescivit vos, dicit Glossa: nesciunt mortui, etiam sancti, quid faciunt vivi, etiam eorum filii. Ergo multo minus vident poenam damnatorum. Objection 1. It would seem that the blessed in heaven will not see the sufferings of the damned. For the damned are more cut off from the blessed than wayfarers. But the blessed do not see the deeds of wayfarers: wherefore a gloss on Is. 63:16, "Abraham hath not known us," says: "The dead, even the saints, know not what the living, even their own children, are doing" [St. Augustine, De cura pro mortuis xiii, xv]. Much less therefore do they see the sufferings of the damned.
Praeterea, perfectio visionis dependet a perfectione visibilis; unde philosophus dicit in 10 Ethicor., quod perfectissima sensus operatio est sensus optime dispositi ad pulcherrimum sub sensu jacentium. Ergo e contrario turpitudo visibilis redundat in imperfectionem visionis. Sed nulla imperfectio erit in beatis. Ergo non videbunt miserias damnatorum, in quibus est summa turpitudo. Objection 2. Further, perfection of vision depends on the perfection of the visible object: wherefore the Philosopher says (Ethic. x, 4) that "the most perfect operation of the sense of sight is when the sense is most disposed with reference to the most beautiful of the objects which fall under the sight." Therefore, on the other hand, any deformity in the visible object redounds to the imperfection of the sight. But there will be no imperfection in the blessed. Therefore they will not see the sufferings of the damned wherein there is extreme deformity.
Sed contra est quod dicitur Isa. ult., 24: Egredientur et videbunt cadavera virorum qui praevaricati sunt in me. Glossa: electi egredientur intelligentia vel visione manifesta, ut ad laudem Dei magis accendantur. 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."
Respondeo dicendum ad primam quaestionem, quod a beatis nihil subtrahi debet quod ad perfectionem beatitudinis eorum pertineat. Unumquodque autem ex operatione contrarii magis cognoscitur; quia contraria juxta se posita magis elucescunt. Et ideo, ut beatitudo sanctorum eis magis complaceat, et de ea uberiores gratias Deo agant, dantur eis ut poenam impiorum perfecte intueantur. 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.
Ad primum ergo dicendum, quod Glossa illa loquitur de sanctis mortuis secundum impossibilitatem naturae: non enim oportet ut naturali cognitione cognoscant omnia quae erga vivos aguntur. Sed sancti qui sunt in patria, omnia clare cognoscunt quae aguntur et apud viatores et apud damnatos; unde Gregorius dicit, 12 Lib. Moral., de animabus sanctis: sentiendum non est hoc (scilicet quod Job dicit: sive nobiles fuerint filii ejus, sive ignobiles, nesciunt etc.): quia qui intus habent Dei claritatem, nullo modo credendum est quod sit foris aliquid quod ignorent. Reply to Objection 1. This gloss speaks of what the departed saints are able to do by nature: for it is not necessary that they should know by natural knowledge all that happens to the living. But the saints in heaven know distinctly all that happens both to wayfarers and to the damned. Hence Gregory says (Moral. xii) that Job's words (14:21), "'Whether his children come to honour or dishonour, he shall not understand,' do not apply to the souls of the saints, because since they possess the glory of God within them, we cannot believe that external things are unknown to them." [Concerning this Reply, Cf. I, 89, 8].
Ad secundum dicendum, quod quamvis pulchritudo visibilis ad perfectionem faciat visionis, visibilis tamen turpitudo sine visionis imperfectione esse potest: species enim rerum in anima, per quas contraria cognoscuntur, non sunt contrariae; unde etiam Deus, qui perfectissimam cognitionem habet, omnia, pulchra et turpia, videt. Reply to Objection 2. Although the beauty of the thing seen conduces to the perfection of vision, there may be deformity of the thing seen without imperfection of vision: because the images of things whereby the soul knows contraries are not themselves contrary. Wherefore also God Who has most perfect knowledge sees all things, beautiful and deformed.
Articulus 2. Utrum beati miseriis damnatorum compatiantur
Q94 a2 Whether the blessed pity the unhappiness of the damned?
Videtur quod beati miseriis damnatorum compatiantur. Compassio enim ex caritate procedit. Sed in beatis erit perfectissima caritas. Ergo maxime miseriis damnatorum compatientur. Objection 1. It would seem that the blessed pity the unhappiness of the damned. For pity proceeds from charity; and charity will be most perfect in the blessed. Therefore they will most especially pity the sufferings of the damned.
Praeterea, beati nunquam erunt tantum elongati a passione quantum Deus est. Sed Deus quodammodo miseriis compatitur nostris, unde et misericors dicitur; et similiter Angeli. Ergo beati compatientur miseriis damnatorum. Objection 2. Further, the blessed will never be so far from taking pity as God is. Yet in a sense God compassionates our afflictions, wherefore He is said to be merciful.
Sed contra, quicumque alii compatitur, fit ejus miseriae quodammodo particeps. Sed beati non possunt esse participes alicujus miseriae. Ergo beati miseriis damnatorum non compatiuntur. On the contrary, Whoever pities another shares somewhat in his unhappiness. But the blessed cannot share in any unhappiness. Therefore they do not pity the afflictions of the damned.
Respondeo dicendum quod misericordia vel compassio potest inveniri in aliquo dupliciter: uno modo per modum passionis; alio modo per modum electionis. In beatis autem non erit aliqua passio in parte inferiori, nisi consequens electionem rationis; unde non erit in eis compassio vel misericordia, nisi secundum electionem rationis. I answer that, Mercy or compassion may be in a person in two ways: first by way of passion, secondly by way of choice. In the blessed there will be no passion in the lower powers except as a result of the reason's choice. Hence compassion or mercy will not be in them, except by the choice of reason.
Hoc autem modo ex electione misericordia vel compassio nascitur, prout scilicet aliquis vult malum alterius repelli; unde in illis quae non volumus secundum judicium rationis repelli, compassionem talem non habemus. Now mercy or compassion comes of the reason's choice when a person wishes another's evil to be dispelled: wherefore in those things which, in accordance with reason, we do not wish to be dispelled, we have no such compassion.
Peccatores autem, quamdiu sunt in hoc mundo, in tali statu sunt quod sine praejudicio divinae justitiae possunt in beatitudinem transferri a statu miseriae et peccati; et ideo beatorum compassio ad eos locum habet et secundum electionem voluntatis, prout Deus, Angeli et beati eis compati dicuntur, eorum salutem volendo; et secundum compassionem, sicut compatiuntur eis homines boni in statu viae existentes. But so long as sinners are in this world they are in such a state that without prejudice to the Divine justice they can be taken away from a state of unhappiness and sin to a state of happiness. Consequently it is possible to have compassion on them both by the choice of the will--in which sense God, the angels and the blessed are said to pity them by desiring their salvation--and by passion, in which way they are pitied by the good men who are in the state of wayfarers.
Sed in futuro non poterunt transferri a sua miseria; unde ad eorum miserias non poterit esse compassio secundum electionem rectam; et ideo beati qui erunt in gloria, nullam compassionem ad damnatos habebunt. But in the future state it will be impossible for them to be taken away from their unhappiness: and consequently it will not be possible to pity their sufferings according to right reason. Therefore the blessed in glory will have no pity on the damned.
Ad primum ergo dicendum, quod caritas tunc est principium compassionis, quando possumus ex caritate velle remotionem malitiae alicujus; sed sancti ex caritate hoc velle non possunt de damnatis, cum divinae justitiae repugnet; unde ratio non sequitur. Reply to Objection 1. Charity is the principle of pity when it is possible for us out of charity to wish the cessation of a person's unhappiness. But the saints cannot desire this for the damned, since it would be contrary to Divine justice. Consequently the argument does not prove.
Ad secundum dicendum, quod Deus dicitur esse misericors, inquantum subvenit ipsis quos secundum ordinem sapientiae et justitiae suae convenit a miseria liberari; non quod damnatorum misereatur, nisi forte puniendo citra condignum. Reply to Objection 2. God is said to be merciful, in so far as He succors those whom it is befitting to be released from their afflictions in accordance with the order of wisdom and justice: not as though He pitied the damned except perhaps in punishing them less than they deserve.
Home Summa Theologica Supplement Question 94 Article 3
Articulus 3. Utrum beati non laetentur de poenis impiorum.
Whether the blessed rejoice in the punishment of the wicked?
Ad tertium sic proceditur. Videtur quod beati non laetentur de poenis impiorum. Laetari enim de malo ad odium alterius pertinet. Sed in beatis nullum erit odium. Ergo non laetabuntur de miseriis damnatorum. 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.
Praeterea, beati in patria erunt summe Deo conformes. Sed Deus non delectatur in poenis nostris. (Tob. 3,22) Ergo nec beati delectabuntur de poenis damnatorum. Objection 2. Further, the blessed in heaven will be in the highest degree conformed to God. Now God does not rejoice in our afflictions. Therefore neither will the blessed rejoice in the afflictions of the damned.
Praeterea, illud quod est vituperabile in viatore, nullo modo cadit in comprehensorem. Sed in homine viatore est maxime vituperabile quod reficiatur aliorum poenis, et maxime commendabile ut de poenis doleat. Ergo beati nullo modo laetantur de poenis damnatorum. Objection 3. Further, that which is blameworthy in a wayfarer has no place whatever in a comprehensor. Now it is most reprehensible in a wayfarer to take pleasure in the pains of others, and most praiseworthy to grieve for them. Therefore the blessed nowise rejoice in the punishment of the damned.
Sed contra est quod in Psal. 57, 2, dicitur: Laetabitur justus, cum viderit vindictam. On the contrary, It is written (Psalm 57:11): "The just shall rejoice when he shall see the revenge."
Praeterea, Isai. ult. 24, dicitur: Erunt usque ad satietatem visionis omni carni. Satietas autem refectionem mentis designat. Ergo beati gaudebunt de poenis impiorum. Further, it is written (Isaiah 56:24): "They shall satiate [Douay: 'They shall be a loathsome sight to all flesh.'] the sight of all flesh." Now satiety denotes refreshment of the mind. Therefore the blessed will rejoice in the punishment of the wicked.
Respondeo dicendum quod aliquid potest esse materia gaudii dupliciter. Uno modo per se, quando scilicet de aliquo gaudetur inquantum hujusmodi; et sic sancti non laetabuntur de poenis impiorum. Alio modo per accidens, id est ratione alicujus adjuncti; et hoc modo sancti de poenis impiorum gaudebunt considerando in eis ordinem divinae justitiae, et suam liberationem, de qua gaudebunt; et sic divina justitia et sua liberatio erunt per se causa gaudii beatorum, sed poenae damnatorum per accidens. 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.
Ad primum ergo dicendum, quod laetari de malo alterius inquantum hujusmodi, pertinet ad odium; non autem laetari de malo alterius ratione alicujus adjuncti. Sic autem aliquis quandoque de malo proprio laetatur, sicut cum aliquis gaudet de propriis afflictionibus, secundum quod prosunt ei ad meritum vitae. Jac. 1, 2: Omne gaudium existimate, fratres mei, cum in tentationes varias incideritis. Reply to Objection 1. To rejoice in another's evil as such belongs to hatred, but not to rejoice in another's evil by reason of something annexed to it. Thus a person sometimes rejoices in his own evil as when we rejoice in our own afflictions, as helping us to merit life: "My brethren, count it all joy when you shall fall into divers temptations" (James 1:2).
Ad secundum dicendum, quod quamvis Deus non delectetur in poenis inquantum hujusmodi; delectatur tamen in eis inquantum sunt per suam justitiam ordinatae. Reply to Objection 2. Although God rejoices not in punishments as such, He rejoices in them as being ordered by His justice.
Ad tertium dicendum, quod in viatore non est laudabile quod delectetur de poenis aliorum secundum se: est tamen laudabile, si delectetur de eis inquantum habent aliquid annexum. Tamen alia ratio est de viatore et comprehensore; quia in viatore passiones frequenter insurgunt sine judicio rationis; et tamen tales passiones interdum sunt laudabiles, secundum quod bonam dispositionem mentis indicant; sicut patet de verecundia et misericordia et poenitentia de malo; sed in comprehensoribus non potest esse passio, nisi consequens judicium rationis. Reply to Objection 3. It is not praiseworthy in a wayfarer to rejoice in another's afflictions as such: yet it is praiseworthy if he rejoice in them as having something annexed. However it is not the same with a wayfarer as with a comprehensor, because in a wayfarer the passions often forestall the judgment of reason, and yet sometimes such passions are praiseworthy, as indicating the good disposition of the mind, as in the case of shame pity and repentance for evil: whereas in a comprehensor there can be no passion but such as follows the judgment of reason.