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Degrees of Heavenly Bliss?

Q. Someone told me that the saints in heaven will enjoy differing degrees of blessedness and glory. If all the redeemed have attained perfection in heaven, won’t they all be equal?

A. To say that the redeemed will attain perfection is not the same as saying that they will attain equality. For those of us who must, before entering heaven, first enter the intermediate state of purgatory, it will be a process of purifying the love for God which by His grace we have attained in this life.

In other words, the depth of the love we have at the moment of death is the depth at which we shall be glorified. The level of spiritual maturity we have attained by grace at the moment of death is the level at which we shall be perfected through our life in purgatory, the level at which we shall spend eternity. Our love for God and for those around us will be perfected, but will not be increased.

Consider this analogy. If we fill both a fifty-gallon drum and a thimble with water, one container is just as full as the other. But their capacity is greatly different.

This image illustrates what the Church teaches: In the lives of the redeemed in heaven there will be varying “degrees of blessedness.” Different persons will have different capacities for union with God, based on the sanctity each has achieved by grace in this life. We all will be filled to perfection, though not all of us to the same capacity.

Even so, there will of course be no envy in heaven. Those of us who will be like thimbles will forever rejoice in the saints who will be like water towers.