The General Resurrection – Part 1 of 2

The Dominican Father Thomas Pegues ponders the events which are expected to take place at the end of the world. He follows the discussion presented in the Treatise On The General Resurrection, which is found in the Supplement to St. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica (III Suppl., 69-86).

Father Pegues writes: “The end of the world will be immediately followed by two great events, namely, the resurrection and the judgment.” St. Paul teaches (1 Thes 4:16-17) that, on that day, Jesus Christ, Who is the Judge of the living and the dead, will descend from heaven in glory; and the dead will rise from their tombs; and all people, those still alive at the time of Christ’s coming and those raised from their tombs, will stand before the Judge.

The bodies of the just will be “instantaneously transformed and become glorious. They will be the same bodies with this difference, that there will be no imperfections or troubles or sicknesses such as they were subject to on earth; on the contrary, these bodies will have perfections that will in some sense spiritualize them.” These perfections are impassibility, subtlety, agility, and clarity.

Impassibility is “that property of the glorified body whereby the soul has perfect dominion over the body in such wise that no defect and no suffering or sickness whatsoever can be in the body.” Every glorified body will be impassible, but the power of impassibility “will be proportioned to the glory of the soul, which will be different according to the degree in which the soul participates in the beatific vision.” The glorified body will not be devoid of sensibility. On the contrary, it will possess “a sensibility that is exquisite in the highest possible degree, with no admixture whatsoever of imperfection. Hence the eye of the glorified body will see in an incomparable degree more readily and more piercingly than in this life; the ear will have a sensitiveness without compare. So with all the other senses; each will attain its object with an intensity of perfection impossible for us now to imagine, and this without an object ever injuring the sense as so often happens in this life.”

Quotations from Thomas Pegues, Catechism of the “Summa Theologica” of Saint Thomas Aquinas, trans. Aelred Whitacre (New York: Benziger, 1922).

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