Summa - Supplement 1426
Objection 1: It would seem that suffrages do not profit even those who are in purgatory. For purgatory is a part of hell. Now "there is no redemption in hell" [*Office of the Dead, Resp. vii], and it is written (Ps 6,6), "Who shall confess to Thee in hell?" Therefore suffrages do not profit those who are in purgatory.
Objection 2: Further, the punishment of purgatory is finite. Therefore if some of the punishment is abated by suffrages, it would be possible to have such a great number of suffrages, that the punishment would be entirely remitted, and consequently the sin entirely unpunished: and this would seem incompatible with Divine justice.
Objection 3: Further, souls are in purgatory in order that they may be purified there, and being pure may come to the kingdom. Now nothing can be purified, unless something be done to it. Therefore suffrages offered by the living do not diminish the punishment of purgatory.
Objection 4: Further, if suffrages availed those who are in purgatory, those especially would seem to avail them which are offered at their behest. Yet these do not always avail: for instance, if a person before dying were to provide for so many suffrages to be offered for him that if they were offered they would suffice for the remission of his entire punishment. Now supposing these suffrages to be delayed until he is released from punishment, they will profit him nothing. For it cannot be said that they profit him before they are discharged; and after they are fulfilled, he no longer needs them, since he is already released. Therefore suffrages do not avail those who are in purgatory.
On the contrary, As quoted in the text (Sent. iv, D, 45), Augustine says (Enchiridion cx): "Suffrages profit those who are not very good or not very bad." Now such are those who are detained in purgatory. Therefore, etc.
Further, Dionysius says (Eccl. Hier. vii) that the "godlike priest in praying for the departed prays for those who lived a holy life, and yet contracted certain stains through human frailty." Now such persons are detained in purgatory. Therefore, etc.
I answer that, The punishment of purgatory is intended to supplement the satisfaction which was not fully completed in the body. Consequently, since, as stated above (Articles ,2; Question , Article ), the works of one person can avail for another's satisfaction, whether the latter be living or dead, the suffrages of the living, without any doubt, profit those who are in purgatory.
Reply to Objection 1: The words quoted refer to those who are in the hell of the damned, where there is no redemption for those who are finally consigned to that punishment. We may also reply with Damascene (Serm.: De his qui in fide dormierunt) that such statements are to be explained with reference to the lower causes, that is according to the demands of the merits of those who are consigned to those punishments. But according to the Divine mercy which transcends human merits, it happens otherwise through the prayers of the righteous, than is implied by the expressions quoted in the aforesaid authorities. Now "God changes His sentence but not his counsel," as Gregory says (Moral. xx): wherefore the Damascene (Serm.: De his qui in fide dormierunt) quotes as instances of this the Ninevites, Achab and Ezechias, in whom it is apparent that the sentence pronounced against them by God was commuted by the Divine mercy [*Cf. FP, Question , Article , ad 2].
Reply to Objection 2: It is not unreasonable that the punishment of those who are in purgatory be entirely done away by the multiplicity of suffrages. But it does not follow that the sins remain unpunished, because the punishment of one undertaken in lieu of another is credited to that other.
Reply to Objection 3: The purifying of the soul by the punishment of purgatory is nothing else than the expiation of the guilt that hinders it from obtaining glory. And since, as stated above (Question , Article ), the guilt of one person can be expiated by the punishment which another undergoes in his stead, it is not unreasonable that one person be purified by another satisfying for him.
Reply to Objection 4: Suffrages avail on two counts, namely the action of the agent [*"Ex opere operante" and "ex opere operato"] and the action done. By action done I mean not only the sacrament of the Church, but the effect incidental to that action---thus from the giving of alms there follow the relief of the poor and their prayer to God for the deceased. In like manner the action of the agent may be considered in relation either to the principal agent or to the executor. I say, then, that the dying person, as soon as he provides for certain suffrages to be offered for him, receives the full meed of those suffrages, even before they are discharged, as regards the efficacy of the suffrages that results from the action as proceeding from the principal agent. But as regards the efficacy of the suffrages arising from the action done or from the action as proceeding from the executor, he does not receive the fruit before the suffrages are discharged. And if, before this, he happens to be released from his punishment, he will in this respect be deprived of the fruit of the suffrages, and this will fall back upon those by whose fault he was then defrauded. For it is not unreasonable that a person be defrauded in temporal matters by another's fault---and the punishment of purgatory is temporal---although as regards the eternal retribution none can be defrauded save by his own fault.
Objection 1: It would seem that suffrages avail the children who are in limbo. For they are not detained there except for another's sin. Therefore it is most becoming that they should be assisted by the suffrages of others.
Objection 2: Further, in the text (Sent. iv, D, 45) the words of Augustine (Enchiridion cx) are quoted: "The suffrages of the Church obtain forgiveness for those who are not very bad." Now children are not reckoned among those who are very bad, since their punishment is very light. Therefore the suffrages of the Church avail them.
On the contrary, The text (Sent. iv, D, 45) quotes Augustine as saying (Serm. xxxii, De Verb ) that "suffrages avail not those who have departed hence without the faith that works by love." Now the children departed thus. Therefore suffrages avail them not.
I answer that, Unbaptized children are not detained in limbo save because they lack the state of grace. Hence, since the state of the dead cannot be changed by the works of the living, especially as regards the merit of the essential reward or punishment, the suffrages of the living cannot profit the children in limbo.
Reply to Objection 1: Although original sin is such that one person can be assisted by another on its account, nevertheless the souls of the children in limbo are in such a state that they cannot be assisted, because after this life there is no time for obtaining grace.
Reply to Objection 2: Augustine is speaking of those who are not very bad, but have been baptized. This is clear from what precedes: "Since these sacrifices, whether of the altar or of any alms whatsoever are offered for those who have been baptized," etc.
Objection 1: It would seem that in some way suffrages profit the saints in heaven; on account of the words of the Collect in the Mass [*Postcommunion, Feast of St. Andrew, Apostle]: "Even as they" (i.e. the sacraments) "avail thy saints unto glory, so may they profit us unto healing." Now foremost among all suffrages is the sacrifice of the altar. Therefore suffrages profit the saints in heaven.
Objection 2: Further, the sacraments cause what they signify. Now the third part of the host, that namely which is dropped into the chalice, signifies those who lead a happy life in heaven. Therefore the suffrages of the Church profit those who are in heaven.
Objection 3: Further, the saints rejoice in heaven not only in their own goods, but also in the goods of others: hence it is written (Lc 15,10): "There is [Vulg.: 'shall be'] joy before the angels of God upon one sinner doing penance." Therefore the joy of the saints in heaven increases on account of the good works of the living: and consequently our suffrages also profit them.
Objection 4: Further, the Damascene says (Serm.: De his qui in fide dormierunt) quoting the words of Chrysostom: "For if the heathens," he says, "burn the dead together with what has belonged to them, how much more shouldst thou, a believer, send forth a believer together with what has belonged to him, not that they also may be brought to ashes like him, but that thou mayest surround him with greater glory by so doing; and if he be a sinner who has died, that thou mayest loose him from his sins, and if he be righteous, that thou mayest add to his meed and reward!" And thus the same conclusion follows.
On the contrary, As quoted in the text (Sent. iv, D, 15), Augustine says (De Verb Ap., Serm. xvii): "It is insulting to pray for a martyr in church, since we ought to commend ourselves to his prayers."
Further, to be assisted belongs to one who is in need. But the saints in heaven are without any need whatever. Therefore they are not assisted by the suffrages of the Church.
I answer that, Suffrage by its very nature implies the giving of some assistance, which does not apply to one who suffers no default: since no one is competent to be assisted except he who is in need. Hence, as the saints in heaven are free from all need, being inebriated with the plenty of God's house (Ps 35,10), they are not competent to be assisted by suffrages.
Reply to Objection 1: Such like expressions do not mean that the saints receive an increase of glory in themselves through our observing their feasts, but that we profit thereby in celebrating their glory with greater solemnity. Thus, through our knowing or praising God, and through His glory thus increasing some what in us, there accrues something, not to God, but to us.
Reply to Objection 2: Although the sacraments cause what thy signify, they do not produce this effect in respect of everything that they signify: else, since they signify Christ, they would produce something in Christ (which is absurd). But they produce their effect on the recipient of the sacrament in virtue of that which is signified by the sacrament. Thus it does not follow that the sacrifices offered for the faithful departed profit the saints, but that by the merits of the saints which we commemorate, or which are signified in the sacrament, they profit others for whom they are offered.
Reply to Objection 3: Although the saints in heaven rejoice in all our goods, it does not follow, that if our joys be increased their joy is also increased formally, but only materially, because every passion is increased formally in respect of the formal aspect of its object. Now the formal aspect of the saints' joy, no matter what they rejoice in, is God Himself, in Whom they cannot rejoice more and less, for otherwise their essential reward, consisting of their joy in God, would vary. Hence from the fact that the goods are multiplied, wherein they rejoice with God as the formal aspect of their joy, it does not follow that their joy is intensified, but that they rejoice in more things. Consequently it does not follow that they are assisted by our works.
Reply to Objection 4: The sense is not that an increase of meed or reward accrues to the saint from the suffrages offered by a person, but that this accrues to the offerer. Or we may reply that the blessed departed may derive a reward from suffrages through having, while living, provided for suffrage to be offered for himself, and this was meritorious for him.
Objection 1: It would seem that the souls of the departed are not assisted only by the prayers of the Church, the sacrifice of the altar and alms, or that they are not assisted by them chiefly. For punishment should compensate for punishment. Now fasting is more penal than almsgiving or prayer. Therefore fasting profits more as suffrage than any of the above.
Objection 2: Further, Gregory reckons fasting together with these three, as stated in the Decretals (xiii, Q. ii, Cap. 22): "The souls of the departed are released in four ways, either by the offerings of priests, or the alms of their friends, or the prayers of the saints, or the fasting of their kinsfolk." Therefore the three mentioned above are insufficiently reckoned by Augustine (De Cura pro Mort. xviii).
Objection 3: Further, Baptism is the greatest of the sacraments, especially as regards its effect. Therefore Baptism and other sacraments ought to be offered for the departed equally with or more than the Sacrament of the altar.
Objection 4: Further, this would seem to follow from the words of 1Co 15,29, "If the dead rise not again at all, why are they then baptized for them?" Therefore Baptism avails as suffrage for the dead.
Objection 5: Further, in different Masses there is the same Sacrifice of the altar. If, therefore, sacrifice, and not the Mass, be reckoned among the suffrages, it would seem that the effect would be the same whatever Mass be said for a deceased person, whether in honor of the Blessed Virgin or of the Holy Ghost, or any other. Yet this seems contrary to the ordinance of the Church which has appointed a special Mass for the dead.
Objection 6: Further, the Damascene (Serm.: De his qui in fide dormierunt) teaches that candles and oil should be offered for the dead. Therefore not only the offering of the sacrifice of the altar, but also other offerings should be reckoned among suffrages for the dead.
I answer that, The suffrages of the living profit the dead in so far as the latter are united to the living in charity, and in so far as the intention of the living is directed to the dead. Consequently those whose works are by nature best adapted to assist the dead, which pertain chiefly to the communication of charity, or to the directing of one's intention to another person. Now the sacrament of the Eucharist belongs chiefly to charity, since it is the sacrament of ecclesiastical unity, inasmuch as it contains Him in Whom the whole Church is united and incorporated, namely Christ: wherefore the Eucharist is as it were the origin and bond of charity. Again, chief among the effects of charity is the work of almsgiving: wherefore on the part of charity these two, namely the sacrifice of the Church and almsgiving are the chief suffrages for the dead. But on the part of the intention directed to the dead the chief suffrage is prayer, because prayer by its very nature implies relation not only to the person who prays, even as other works do, but more directly still to that which we pray for. Hence these three are reckoned the principal means of succoring the dead, although we must allow that any other goods whatsoever that are done out of charity for the dead are profitable to them.
Reply to Objection 1: When one person satisfies for another, the point to consider, in order that the effect of his satisfaction reach the other, is the thing whereby the satisfaction of one passes to another, rather than even the punishment undergone by way of satisfaction; although the punishment expiates more the guilt of the one who satisfies, in so far as it is a kind of medicine. And consequently the three aforesaid are more profitable to the departed than fasting.
Reply to Objection 2: It is true that fasting can profit the departed by reason of charity, and on account of the intention being directed to the departed. Nevertheless, fasting does not by its nature contain anything pertaining to charity or to the directing of the intention, and these things are extrinsic thereto as it were, and for this reason Augustine did not reckon, while Gregory did reckon, fasting among the suffrages for the dead.
Reply to Objection 3: Baptism is a spiritual regeneration, wherefore just as by generation being does not accrue save to the object generated, so Baptism produces its effect only in the person baptized, as regards the deed done: and yet as regards the deed of the doer whether of the baptizer or of the baptized, it may profit others even as other meritorious works. On the other hand, the Eucharist is the sign of ecclesiastical unity, wherefore by reason of the deed done its effect can pass to another, which is not the case with the other sacraments.
Reply to Objection 4: According to a gloss this passage may be expounded in two ways. First, thus: "If the dead rise not again, nor did Christ rise again, why are they baptized for them? i.e. for sins, since they are not pardoned if Christ rose not again, because in Baptism not only Christ's passion but also His resurrection operates, for the latter is in a sense the cause of our spiritual resurrection." Secondly, thus: There have been some misguided persons who were baptized for those who had departed this life without baptism, thinking that this would profit them: and according to this explanation the Apostle is speaking, in the above words, merely according to the opinion of certain persons.
Reply to Objection 5: In the office of the Mass there is not only a sacrifice but also prayers. Hence the suffrage of the Mass contains two of the things mentioned by Augustine (De Cura pro Mort. xviii), namely "prayer" and "sacrifice." As regards the sacrifice offered the Mass profits equally the departed, no matter in whose honor it be said: and this is the principal thing done in the Mass. But as regards the prayers, that Mass is most profitable in which the prayers are appointed for this purpose. Nevertheless, this defect may be supplied by the greater devotion, either of the one who says Mass, or of the one who orders the Mass to be said, or again, by the intercession of the saint whose suffrage is besought in the Mass.
Reply to Objection 6: This offering of candles or oil may profit the departed in so far as they are a kind of alms: for they are given for the worship of the Church or for the use of the faithful.
Objection 1: It would seem that the indulgences granted by the Church profit even the dead. First, on account of the custom of the Church, who orders the preaching of a crusade in order that some one may gain an indulgence for himself and for two or three and sometimes even ten souls, both of the living and of the dead. But this would amount to a deception unless they profited the dead. Therefore indulgences profit the dead.
Objection 2: Further, the merit of the whole Church is more efficacious than that of one person. Now personal merit serves as a suffrage for the departed, for instance in the case of almsgiving. Much more therefore does the merit of the Church whereon indulgences are founded.
Objection 3: Further, the indulgences of the Church profit those who are members of the Church. Now those who are in purgatory are members of the Church, else the suffrages of the Church would not profit them. Therefore it would seem that indulgences profit the departed.
On the contrary, In order that indulgences may avail a person, there must be a fitting cause for granting the indulgence [*Cf. Question , Article ]. Now there can be no such cause on the part of the dead, since they can do nothing that is of profit to the Church, and it is for such a cause that indulgences are chiefly granted. Therefore, seemingly, indulgences profit not the dead.
Further, indulgences are regulated according to the decision of the party who grants them. If, therefore, indulgences could avail the dead, it would be in the power of the party granting them to release a deceased person entirely from punishment: which is apparently absurd.
I answer that, An indulgence may profit a person in two ways: in one way, principally; in another, secondarily. It profits principally the person who avails himself of an indulgence, who, namely, does that for which the indulgence is granted, for instance one who visits the shrine of some saint. Hence since the dead can do none of those things for which indulgences are granted, indulgences cannot avail them directly. However, they profit secondarily and indirectly the person for whom one does that which is the cause of the indulgence. This is sometimes feasible and sometimes not, according to the different forms of indulgence. For if the form of indulgence be such as this: "Whosoever does this or that shall gain so much indulgence," he who does this cannot transfer the fruit of the indulgence to another, because it is not in his power to apply to a particular person the intention of the Church who dispenses the common suffrages whence indulgences derive their value, as stated above (Question , Article , ad 2). If, however, the indulgence be granted in this form: "Whosoever does this or that, he, his father, or any other person connected with him and detained in purgatory, will gain so much indulgence," an indulgence of this kind will avail not only a living but also a deceased person. For there is no reason why the Church is able to transfer the common merits, whereon indulgences are based, to the living and not to the dead. Nor does it follow that a prelate of the Church can release souls from purgatory just as he lists, since for indulgences to avail there must be a fitting cause for granting them, as stated above (Question , Article ).
Objection 1: It would seem that the burial service profits the dead. For Damascene (Serm.: De his qui in fide dormierunt) quotes Athanasius as saying: "Even though he who has departed in godliness be taken up to heaven, do not hesitate to call upon God and to burn oil and wax at his tomb; for such things are pleasing to God and receive a great reward from Him." Now the like pertain to the burial service. Therefore the burial service profits the dead.
Objection 2: Further, according to Augustine (De Cura pro mort. iii), "In olden times the funerals of just men were cared for with dutiful piety, their obsequies celebrated, their graves provided, and themselves while living charged their children touching the burial or even the translation of their bodies." But they would not have done this unless the tomb and things of this kind conferred something on the dead. Therefore the like profit the dead somewhat.
Objection 3: Further, no one does a work of mercy on some one's behalf unless it profit him. Now burying the dead is reckoned among the works of mercy, therefore Augustine says (De Cura pro Mort. iii): "Tobias, as attested by the angel, is declared to have found favor with God by burying the dead." Therefore such like burial observances profit the dead.
Objection 4: Further, it is unbecoming to assert that the devotion of the faithful is fruitless. Now some, out of devotion, arrange for their burial in some religious locality. Therefore the burial service profits the dead.
Objection 5: Further, God is more inclined to pity than to condemn. Now burial in a sacred place is hurtful to some if they be unworthy: wherefore Gregory says (Dial. iv): "If those who are burdened with grievous sins are buried in the church this will lead to their more severe condemnation rather than to their release." Much more, therefore, should we say that the burial service profits the good.
On the contrary, Augustine says (De Cura pro Mort. iii): "Whatever service is done the body is no aid to salvation, but an office of humanity."
Further, Augustine says (De Cura pro Mort. iii; De Civ. Dei i): "The funereal equipment, the disposition of the grace, the solemnity of the obsequies are a comfort to the living rather than a help to the dead."
Further, Our Lord said (Lc 12,4): "Be not afraid of them who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do." Now after death the bodies of the saints can be hindered from being buried, as we read of having been done to certain martyrs at Lyons in Gaul (Eusebius, Eccl. Hist. v, 1). Therefore the dead take no harm if their bodies remain unburied: and consequently the burial service does not profit them.
I answer that, We have recourse to burial for the sake of both the living and the dead. For the sake of the living, lest their eyes be revolted by the disfigurement of the corpse, and their bodies be infected by the stench, and this as regards the body. But it profits the living also spiritually inasmuch as our belief in the resurrection is confirmed thereby. It profits the dead in so far as one bears the dead in mind and prays for them through looking on their burial place, wherefore a "monument" takes its name from remembrance, for a monument is something that recalls the mind [monens mentem], as Augustine observes (De Civ. Dei i; De Cura pro Mort. iv). It was, however, a pagan error that burial was profitable to the dead by procuring rest for his soul: for they believed that the soul could not be at rest until the body was buried, which is altogether ridiculous and absurd.
That, moreover, burial in a sacred place profits the dead, does not result from the action done, but rather from the action itself of the doer: when, to wit, the dead person himself, or another, arranges for his body to be buried in a sacred place, and commends him to the patronage of some saint, by whose prayers we must believe that he is assisted, as well as to the suffrages of those who serve the holy place, and pray more frequently and more specially for those who are buried in their midst. But such things as are done for the display of the obsequies are profitable to the living, as being a consolation to them; and yet they can also profit the dead, not directly but indirectly, in so far as men are aroused to pity thereby and consequently to pray, or in so far as the outlay on the burial brings either assistance to the poor or adornment to the church: for it is in this sense that the burial of the dead is reckoned among the works of mercy.
Reply to Objection 1: By bringing oil and candles to the tombs of the dead we profit them indirectly, either as offering them to the Church and as giving them to the poor, or as doing this in reverence of God. Hence, after the words quoted we read: "For oil and candles are a holocaust."
Reply to Objection 2: The fathers of old arranged for the burial of their bodies, so as to show that "the bodies of the dead" are the object of Divine providence, not that there is any feeling in a dead body, but in order to confirm the belief in the resurrection, as Augustine says (De Civ. Dei i, 13). Hence, also, they wished to be buried in the land of promise, where they believed Christ's birth and death would take place, Whose resurrection is the cause of our rising again.
Reply to Objection 3: Since flesh is a part of man's nature, man has a natural affection for his flesh, according to Ep 5,29, "No man ever hated his own flesh." Hence in accordance with this natural affection a man has during life a certain solicitude for what will become of his body after death: and he would grieve if he had a presentiment that something untoward would happen to his body. Consequently those who love a man, through being conformed to the one they love in his affection for himself, treat his body with loving care. For as Augustine says (De Civ. Dei i, 13): "If a father's garment and ring, and whatever such like is the more dear to those whom they leave behind the greater their affection is towards their parents, in no wise are the bodies themselves to be spurned which truly we wear in more familiar and close conjunction than anything else we put on."
Reply to Objection 4: As Augustine says (De Cura pro Mort. iv), the devotion of the faithful is not fruitless when they arrange for their friends to be buried in holy places, since by so doing they commend their dead to the suffrages of the saints, as stated above.
Reply to Objection 5: The wicked man dead takes no harm by being buried in a holy place, except in so far as he rendered such a burial place unfitting for him by reason of human glory.
Objection 1: It would seem that suffrages offered for one deceased person are not more profitable to the one for whom they are offered, than to others. For spiritual light is more communicable than a material light. Now a material light, for instance of a candle, though kindled for one person only, avails equally all those who are gathered together, though the candle be not lit for them. Therefore, since suffrages are a kind of spiritual light, though they be offered for one person in particular, do not avail him any more than the others who are in purgatory.
Objection 2: Further, as stated in the text (Sent. iv, D, 45), suffrages avail the dead "in so far as during this life they merited that they might avail them afterwards" [*St. Augustine, Enchiridion cx]. Now some merited that suffrages might avail them more than those for whom they are offered. Therefore they profit more by those suffrages, else their merits would be rendered unavailing.
Objection 3: Further, the poor have not so many suffrages given them as the rich. Therefore if the suffrages offered for certain people profit them alone, or profit them more than others, the poor would be worse off: yet this is contrary to our Lord's saying (Lc 6,20): "Blessed are ye poor, for yours is the kingdom of God."
On the contrary, Human justice is copied from Divine justice. But if a person pay another's debt human justice releases the latter alone. Therefore since he who offers suffrages for another pays the debt, in a sense, of the person for whom he offers them, they profit this person alone.
Further, just as a man by offering suffrages satisfies somewhat for a deceased person, so, too, sometimes a person can satisfy for a living person. Now where one satisfies for a living person the satisfaction counts only for the person for whom it is offered. Therefore one also who offers suffrages profits him alone for whom he offers them.
I answer that, There have been two opinions on this question. Some, like Praepositivus, have said that suffrages offered for one particular person do avail chiefly, not the person for whom they are offered, but those who are most worthy. And they instanced a candle which is lit for a rich man and profits those who are with him no less than the rich man himself, and perhaps even more, if they have keener sight. They also gave the instance of a lesson which profits the person to whom it is given no more than others who listen with him, but perhaps profits these others more, if they be more intelligent. And if it were pointed out to them that in this case the Church's ordinance in appointing certain special prayers for certain persons is futile, they said that the Church did this to excite the devotion of the faithful, who are more inclined to offer special than common suffrages, and pray more fervently for their kinsfolk than for strangers.
Others, on the contrary, said that suffrages avail more those for whom they are offered. Now both opinions have a certain amount of truth: for the value of suffrages may be gauged from two sources. For their value is derived in the first place from the virtue of charity, which makes all goods common, and in this respect they avail more the person who is more full of charity, although they are not offered specially for him. In this way the value of suffrages regards more a certain inward consolation by reason of which one who is in charity rejoices in the goods of another after death in respect of the diminution of punishment; for after death there is no possibility of obtaining or increasing grace, whereas during life the works of others avail for this purpose by the virtue of charity. In the second place suffrages derive their value from being applied to another person by one's intention. In this way the satisfaction of one person counts for another, and there can be no doubt that thus they avail more the person for whom they are offered: in fact, they avail him alone in this way, because satisfaction, properly speaking, is directed to the remission of punishment. Consequently, as regards the remission of punishment, suffrages avail chiefly the person for whom they are offered, and accordingly there is more truth in the second opinion than in the first.
Reply to Objection 1: Suffrages avail, after the manner of a light, in so far as they reach the dead, who thereby receive a certain amount of consolation: and this is all the greater according as they are endowed with a greater charity. But in so far as suffrages are a satisfaction applied to another by the intention of the offerer, they do not resemble a light, but rather the payment of a debt: and it does not follow, if one person's debt be paid, that the debt of others is paid likewise.
Reply to Objection 2: Such a merit is conditional, for in this way they merited that suffrages would profit them if offered for them, and this was merely to render themselves fit recipients of those suffrages. It is therefore clear that they did not directly merit the assistance of those suffrages, but made themselves fit by their preceding merits to receive the fruit of suffrages. Hence it does not follow that their merit is rendered unavailing.
Reply to Objection 3: Nothing hinders the rich from being in some respects better off than the poor, for instance as regards the expiation of their punishment. But this is as nothing in comparison with the kingdom of heaven, where the poor are shown to be better off by the authority quoted.
Summa - Supplement 1426