From a reader…
We hear often in prayers and reflections before confession that we crucify Christ whenever we commit mortal sins. My question is: does Christ, being resurrected and in heaven, still suffer?
Without a doubt, tambourines at Mass make Christ suffer immensely. Our Lord certainly sheds tears when a priest wears a beige alb. Surely the Savior again suffers horrible agony when faith formation coordinators instruct First Communicants to receive… I can hardly bring myself to write … in the hand!
What is in play here is the dogma of divine impassibility. God does not suffer. Christ, in His divinity, did not, and does not suffer. But Christ, in His human nature, did suffer.
Does Christ, now in heaven, suffer? Will we, in heaven, suffer?
St. Thomas Aquinas says not (STh Supplement, q. 94, a. 2). One seldom goes wrong in siding with The Angelic Doctor (provided that he not simply cherry-picking quotes, say, at the end of documents).
Holy Church teaches, and cannot be wrong, that Christ’s risen Body has four characteristics, namely, impassibility (no suffering or death), subtlety (spiritualization of the body’s matter), agility (no limitation by space or time – though somewhere I have heard that “time is greater than space, whatever that means), and clarity (another word for beauty). We, images of God, members of Christ’s Mystical Body, indeed his Mystical Person, will be like him. Complete impassibility will be a quality of the just who, when risen, enjoy the happiness of heaven.
As far as our physical or spiritual suffering is concerned, remember that Scripture says that in heaven, there will be no tears. And that means something different than what Eric Clapton meant. In heaven “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes: and death shall be no more, nor mourning, nor crying, nor sorrow shall be any more, for the former things are passed away.” (Rev. 21:4) In heaven, we will be so aligned with God’s will that we will be at peace, no matter what. As Picarda says in the Paradiso, “In His will is our peace.”
Don’t put that at risk by staying away from Confession or by receiving Holy Communion in the state of mortal sin!
The constant and consistent teaching of the Church that our sins cause Christ to suffer means that our sins and transgressions caused Christ to have suffered during His earthly life and passion. When we speaks of time and eternity, things become difficult. We are so bound up in time it is very hard to think of our actions today having effect in the past. Yet, that is precisely what the Church teaches. Christ suffered in that one historical point in time in His Passion for every sin ever committed in the past, as He was suffering, and every sin that ever would be committed. His suffering and death was the perfect expiatory satisfaction for all sins, past, present and future.
If someone reads and agrees with the Fishwrap – quod Deus averruncet! – Christ has already suffered for that.
So, yes, Christ suffered when we sin now, but He doesn’t suffer when we sin. That doesn’t mean that His suffering wasn’t/isn’t real.
For more reading on this, try Fr. Thomas Weinandy, OFM in a helpful article in First Things. HERE
That said, it cannot be doubted that God suffers and the holy angels weep with the saints in heaven when music by Marty Haugen is played during Mass, when anyone takes out a subscription to America Magazine, and when, as today, Michael Sean Winters puts pen to foolscap to attack, hah!, Dr. Peters as being “poisonous” (like venom) or ACTON INSTITUTE.
For these and all our foolish errors, have mercy on us, O Lord.
We might ask next if heaven rejoices when you buy Mystic Monk Coffee (or Tea), thus helping both the Wyoming Carmelites to build their monastery and Fr. Z at the same time. Aquinas is silent on the topic.