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89. Knowledge in the Separated Human Soul

1. When the soul is separated from the body by death, itdoes not lose its faculties of intellect and will; nor does it loseits knowledge. But the intellect cannot, as it must in this life,turn to phantasms in using its acquired knowledge. For phantasmsare sense-images, and the separated soul has no senses. Therefore,in the state of separation, there is a change of mode or manner inthe operation of intellect.

2. The separated soul grasps things that are in themselvesunderstandable by a direct grasp. For the soul, being separatedfrom matter, is the more perfectly knowing and knowable;"nonmateriality is the root of knowing and of knowledge."Thus the soul knows other souls perfectly, and knows angels lessperfectly.

3. The separated soul is suffused with light from Godwhich gives it the intelligible species of things knowable, andthus it knows natural things. Angelic knowledge is more perfectthan this knowledge of the separated soul, for angels are naturallyconstituted for knowing without using phantasms, and the separatedsoul is not naturally so constituted.

4. The separated soul knows individual things by itsretainedknowledge, habits and affections, under the divinelyimparted light which both supplies intelligible species andcompensates for the lack of phantasms which the intellect naturallyrequires for its operation. A soul with no retained knowledge, suchas the soul of an infant, has all its knowledge by divine ordinanceand divine light. The separated soul does not know all individualthings; it knows to the extent established by the divine order.

5. The habit of knowledge, such as the grasp of firstprinciples, remains in the separated soul. Sentient knowing habits,of course, are not there, for the senses are not there. The soulcannot forget any longer, nor can it now be deceived by fallaciousreasoning.

6. Thus the mode of intellectual operation in a separatedsoul is one in harmony with a spiritual being; it depends upon thehelp of God through the ministration of supernal light.

7. Distance from the object known cannot hinder knowledgein the separated soul, for it knows through species imparted orpreserved by divinely bestowed light in which local distance makesno difference at all.

8. Separated souls are naturally ignorant of what takesplace on earth. But it is likely that the souls of the blessed inheaven are aware of what goes on among people on earth. Angels havethis knowledge, and the souls enjoying the beatific vision are on apar with angels.

"Whom do you seek, friend, if you seek not God? Seek him, find him, cleave to him; bind your will to his with bands of steel and you will live always at peace in this life and in the next."
St Alphonsus de Liguori

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"The one thing necessary which Jesus spoke of to Martha and Mary consists in hearing the word of God and living by it."
R. Garrigou-Lagrange, OP

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"The essence of perfection is to embrace the will of God in all things, prosperous or adverse. In prosperity, even sinners find it easy to unite themselves to the divine will; but it takes saints to unite themselves to God's will when things go wrong and are painful to self-love. Our conduct in such instances is the measure of our love of God."
St Alphonsus de Liguori

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