Father Pegues continues his discussion of the four perfections that will be given to the glorified bodies of the blessed in the next life. We have mentioned the first perfection (impassibility) in the previous post. We will now discuss the remaining three: subtlety, agility, and clarity.
Subtlety will consist in “a superlative perfection of the body due to the influence of the glorified soul; this influence will impart to the body something so pure and ethereal that it will cease to have that heaviness or density that it has now on earth; but this property in no way detracts from the true nature of the body as though it thereby becomes unreal, aeriform, or a phantom. The glorified body cannot occupy the same place as another body, for it retains always its own dimensions or quantity, and consequently it will always be in a place and in space.”
The risen body of Christ passed through doors, not on account of its subtlety; rather, “this was a miracle and was performed by the divine power of Jesus Christ.”
Agility in the glorified body is “a certain perfection in the body derived from the glorified soul whereby the body will obey in the most marvelously ready manner all the movements of the soul which is its motive principle.” The blessed in heaven will use the power of agility “when they have to come to the judgment of Jesus Christ on the last day, and when they ascend to heaven with Him.”
Clarity means that “the splendour of the soul will shine as it were through the body, so that the body will be as it were luminous and transparent; but this will not detract from the natural colour of the body, but will rather harmonize with it, imparting to it the most exquisite beauty.” Clarity will not be the same in all, but rather, will be “proportioned to the degree of glory proper to each soul.” For this reason, St. Paul speaks (1 Cor 15:41) of “a variety among the glorified bodies: ‘One is the glory of the sun, another of the moon, and another the glory of the stars. For star differeth from star in glory.'”
In the next life, “death will be no more.” This is true of all human bodies: those in heaven as well as those in hell. As for the latter, they “will have none of the four qualities of the glorified body.”
Children who die without baptism “will rise in the most perfect state of a human being in nature, but without the properties of the glorified body;” and “they will never suffer any sorrow or pain.”
Quotations from Thomas Pegues, Catechism of the “Summa Theologica” of Saint Thomas Aquinas, trans. Aelred Whitacre (New York: Benziger, 1922).