Dear Father Angelo,
I always read your website and the answers that you give to the faithful; today, I decided to contact you to ask two simple questions about accidental glory.
1) What is the enjoyment of the communion of saints and angels in Heaven? Is it the delight of their company? Is it related to the possibility to see their light of glory? Or does it lie, for example, in the possibility of seeing who they were and what they did on Earth during their lifetime?
2) Will martyrdom, priesthood and virginity consecrated to God involve an increase in accidental glory, in addition to the essential glory which will be experienced in Heaven?
I’ll wait for your answer and I thank you in advance.
The answer from father Angelo
1-First, I would like to explain the concepts of accidental and essential glory for the benefit of some of our visitors who don’t know what they are. Essential glory consists of the hold and enjoyment of God in Heaven.
Accidental glory consists of the holding and enjoyment of everything that doesn’t identify exactly with God.
2- You ask me if accidental glory consists of the enjoyment of our communion with the Saints and the angels in Paradise. It surely does. We will see all the things that they have accomplished on this earth, as well as all the graces that they dispense from Heaven, and we will rejoice with them about it.
3- We will also enjoy their presence. This is testified by Saint Paul: «May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call, what are the riches of glory in his inheritance among the holy ones» (Ephesians 1, 18).
At last, we will be with them one heart and soul.
Their company will be delightful.
4- Not only we will see their light of glory, but we will be able to participate in it. Saint Thomas affirms that «the power of the Holy Ghost communicates to each one the blessings of Christ’s members on account of their being united in charity» (Summa Theologiae, III, 82, 6, ad 3) and that «as for a natural body the action of a member happens to the advantage of all the body, thus happens in the spiritual body which is the Church. And since all the faithful form one body, what is good for one is communicated to the other. “So we, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another” (Romans 12, 5)…
This is called the communion of saints (communio sanctorum)» (Expositio in Symbolum, art. 10, n.987).
On her deathbed, referring to the communion of saints and explaining how the good of oneself shall also become the good of others, Saint Therese of Lisieux said: “like a mother is proud of her sons, we will similarly be proud one of the other, without any jealousy” (Novissima Verba, the eleventh of July, 1897).
5- You also ask me if martyrdom, priesthood and virginity consecrated to God will involve an increase in accidental glory, in addition to the increase in essential glory.
In this regard, we must make a distinction, since beatitude (or glory) is always related to charity, to the degree of love.
That’s why doctors, virgins and martyrs are given a particular aureole, by reason of the greater charity they’ve shown in the singular state of their life (consecrated virginity and teaching) or by reason of the particular event that testified their love for the Lord (martyrdom). However, it could happen that some draw a greater essential glory by reason of the higher degree of charity they’ve reached despite not being virgins, nor doctors or martyrs.
6- Concerning priesthood and all those who belong to a sacred order, it should be recalled what Saint Francis of Sales wrote in his letters, i.e. that “God doesn’t reward His servants according to the dignity of the office that they hold”, but according to charity. Therefore, if they are given a particular aureole, it will be because they were also virgins, doctors or martyrs. Nonetheless, all the charity they’ve exercised with priesthood by donating God, His grace and forgiveness to souls, will result in the enjoyment of accidental glory.
With the hope that you will draw a great essential and accidental glory, I bless you and assure you of remembrance to the Lord.