Is it similar to St Thomas of Aquinas's description?

(Obviously, by 'description', I mean description of what it entails...not what God looks like!)

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    – Sehnsucht
    Jan 17, 2014 at 19:02

2 Answers 2


The doctrine of the beatific vision stems from the scholastic movement of the 14th century, particularly St. Thomas Aquinas. Thomas Aquinas defined the beatific vision as the human being's "final end" in which one attains to a perfect happiness. Thomas reasons that one is perfectly happy only when all one's desires are perfectly satisfied, to the degree that happiness could not increase and could not be lost.

Man is not perfectly happy, so long as something remains for him to desire and seek. (STh I–II)

In AD 1336, Pope Benedict XII set in stone the definition of eternal face to face worship (a.k.a. Beatific Vision):

By virtue of our apostolic authority, we define the following: According to the general disposition of God, the souls of all the saints . . . and other faithful who died after receiving Christ's holy Baptism (provided they were not in need of purification when they died, . . . or, if they then did need or will need some purification, when they have been purified after death, . . .) already before they take up their bodies again and before the general judgment - and this since the Ascension of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ into heaven - have been, are and will be in heaven, in the heavenly Kingdom and celestial paradise with Christ, joined to the company of the holy angels. Since the Passion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ, these souls have seen and do see the divine essence with an intuitive vision, and even face to face, without the mediation of any creature.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines in paragraph 1028 the Beatific Vision as:

Because of his transcendence, God cannot be seen as he is, unless he himself opens up his mystery to man's immediate contemplation and gives him the capacity for it. The Church calls this contemplation of God in his heavenly glory "the beatific vision":

How great will your glory and happiness be, to be allowed to see God, to be honored with sharing the joy of salvation and eternal light with Christ your Lord and God, . . . to delight in the joy of immortality in the Kingdom of heaven with the righteous and God's friends. (St. Cyprian)


It is, in two words, the ultimate, eternal goal of salvation (Rom. 8:29), eternal life in its fullness though not in all its gradations (for eternal life is to know God and His Christ, Jn. 17:3), the event that will complete forever our transformation into Christ's likeness (1 Jn. 3:2), and will attain for us happiness which can neither be diminished nor increased, for the gift of unhindered vision of God is irrevocable, and the Father of lights is without shadow of turning.

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