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St. Thomas Aquinas
Catechetical Instructions

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  • THE TWELFTH ARTICLE: "Life everlasting. Amen."
    • WHAT IS EVERLASTING DEATH?
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WHAT IS EVERLASTING DEATH?

 

The perfect will enjoy all this in the life everlasting, and much more that

surpasses description. But the wicked, on the other hand, will be in

eternal death suffering pain and punishment as great as will be the

happiness and glory of the good. The punishment of the damned will be

increased, firstly, by their separation from God and from all good. This is

the pain of loss which corresponds to aversion, and is a greater punishment

than that of sense: "And the unprofitable servant, cast ye out into the

exterior darkness."21 The wicked in this life have interior darkness,

namely sin; but then they shall also have exterior darkness.

 

Secondly, the damned shall suffer from remorse of conscience: "I will

reprove thee, and set before thy face."22 "Groaning for anguish of

spirit."23 Nevertheless, their repentance and groaning will be of no avail,

because it rises not from hatred of evil, but from fear and the enormity of

their punishments. Thirdly, there is the great pain of sense. It is the

fire of hell which tortures the soul and the body; and this, as the Saints

tell us, is the sharpest of all punishments. They shall be ever dying, and

yet never die; hence it is called eternal death, for as dying is the

bitterest of pains, such will be the lot of those in hell: "They are laid

in hell like sheep; death shall feed upon them."24 Fourthly, there is the

despair of their salvation. If some hope of delivery from their punishments

would be given them, their punishment would be somewhat lessened; but since

all hope is withdrawn from them, their sufferings are made most intense:

"Their worm shall not die, and their fire shall not be quenched.25

 

We thus see the difference between doing good and doing evil. Good works

lead to life, evil drags us to death. For this reason, men ought frequently

to recall these things to mind, since they will incite one to do good and

withdraw one from evil. Therefore, very significantly, at the end of the

Creed is placed "life everlasting," so that it would be more and more

deeply impressed on the memory. To this life everlasting may the Lord Jesus

Christ, blessed God for ever, bring us! Amen.

 

 

 




21. Matt., xxv. 30.

 



22. Ps. xlix. 21.

 



23. Wis., v. 3.

 



24. Ps. xlviii. 15.

 



25. Isa., lxvi. 24.




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