Dear Father Angelo,
First of all, I thank you for your precious teachings – I really appreciate your answers – and for your clarity in explaining the revealed truths, which is obviously the result of an expertise out of the ordinary.
I write to you because your answer regarding essential and accessory happiness confused me a little.
You write, in a message dated April 2007, that accessory happiness is necessary to beatitude, too: I ask you how is this possible. Why should who possesses God Himself (absolute and Highest Good) need anything else to be fully happy?
On the other hand, the Roman Catechism says “[…] supreme and absolute happiness, which we call essential, consists in the possession of God; For what can he lack to consummate his happiness who possesses the God of all goodness and perfection?”. St. Augustine, as mentioned by St. Thomas, seems to think the same about the knowledge of created things.
Father Angelo, I thank you for your patience and wish you all the best.
1. St. Thomas makes an important distinction to say how something can be required.
He writes: “One thing may be necessary for another in four ways.
First, as a preamble and preparation to it: thus instruction is necessary for science.
Secondly, as perfecting it: thus the soul is necessary for the life of the body.
Thirdly, as helping it from without: thus friends are necessary for some undertaking.
Fourthly, as something attendant on it: thus we might say that heat is necessary for fire”. (Summa Theologiae I-II, 4,1)
2. Well, accessory happiness, consisting for example of the presence of the body or friends, is not required as a constitutive element, but as in the fourth way: as attending.
He writes: “Wherefore, since man’s perfect Happiness consists in the vision of the Divine Essence, it does not depend on the body. Consequently, without the body the soul can be happy.
We must, however, notice that something may belong to a thing’s perfection in two ways. First, as constituting the essence thereof; thus the soul is necessary for man’s perfection.
Secondly, as necessary for its well-being: thus, beauty of body and keenness of perfection belong to man’s perfection. Wherefore though the body does not belong in the first way to the perfection of human Happiness, yet it does in the second way. (Ib., I-II, 4, 5).
3. St. Thomas says something similar also regarding the presence of friends.
He writes: “If we speak of perfect Happiness which will be in our heavenly Fatherland, the fellowship of friends is not essential to Happiness; since man has the entire fulness of his perfection in God.
But the fellowship of friends conduces to the well-being of Happiness. (Ib., I-II, 4, 8).
On the other hand, we read in the Holy Scriptures that “all good things together came to me in her company (that is the divine wisdom consisting in the contemplation of God)” (Wis 7:11).
I wish you, that beside essential happiness, you may enjoy to the fullest also accessory happiness. I entrust you to the Lord and I bless you.
Translated by: Francesca B