Summa - Supplement 1420



We must now consider the suffrages for the dead. Under this head there are fourteen points of inquiry:

(1) Whether suffrages performed by one person can profit others?

(2) Whether the dead can be assisted by the works of the living?

(3) Whether the suffrages of sinners profit the dead?

(4) Whether suffrages for the dead profit those who perform them?

(5) Whether suffrages profit those who are in hell?

(6) Whether they profit those who are in purgatory?

(7) Whether they avail the children in limbo?

(8) Whether in any way they profit those who are heaven?

(9) Whether the prayer of the Church, the Sacrament of the altar, and almsgiving profit the departed?

(10) Whether indulgences granted by the Church profit them?

(11) Whether the burial service profits the departed?

(12) Whether suffrages for one dead person profit that person more than others?

(13) Whether suffrages for many avail each one as much as if they were offered for each individual?

(14) Whether general suffrages avail those for whom special suffrages are not offered, as much as special and general suffrages together avail those for whom they are offered?

Whether the suffrages of one person can profit others?


Objection 1: It would seem that the suffrages of one person cannot profit others. For it is written (
Ga 6,8): "What things a man shall sow, those also shall he reap." Now if one person reaped fruit from the suffrages of another, he would reap from another's sowing. Therefore a person receives no fruit from the suffrages of others.

Objection 2: Further, it belongs to God's justice, that each one should receive according to his merits, wherefore the psalm (Ps 61,13) says: "Thou wilt render to every man according to his works." Now it is impossible for God's justice to fail. Therefore it is impossible for one man to be assisted by the works of another.

Objection 3: Further, a work is meritorious on the same count as it is praiseworthy, namely inasmuch as it is voluntary. Now one man is not praised for the work of another. Therefore neither can the work of one man be meritorious and fruitful for another.

Objection 4: Further, it belongs to Divine justice to repay good for good in the same way as evil for evil. But no man is punished for the evildoings of another; indeed, according to Ez 18,4, "the soul that sinneth, the same shall die." Therefore neither does one person profit by another's good.

On the contrary, It is written (Ps 118,63): "I am a partaker with all them that fear Thee," etc.

Further, all the faithful united together by charity are members of the one body of the Church. Now one member is assisted by another. Therefore one man can be assisted by the merits of another.

I answer that, our actions can avail for two purposes. First, for acquiring a certain state; thus by a meritorious work a man obtains the state of bliss. Secondly, for something consequent upon a state; thus by some work a man merits an accidental reward, or a rebate of punishment. And for both these purposes our actions may avail in two ways: first, by way of merit; secondly, by way of prayer: the difference being that merit relies on justice, and prayer on mercy; since he who prays obtains his petition from the mere liberality of the one he prays. Accordingly we must say that the work of one person nowise can avail another for acquiring a state by way of merit, so that, to wit, a man be able to merit eternal life by the works which I do, because the share of glory is awarded according to the measure of the recipient, and each one is disposed by his own and not by another's actions---disposed, that is to say, by being worthy of reward. By way of prayer, however, the work of one may profit another while he is a wayfarer, even for acquiring a state; for instance, one man may obtain the first grace for another [*Cf. I-II 114,6]: and since the impetration of prayer depends on the liberality of God Whom we pray, it may extend to whatever is ordinately subject to the Divine power. On the other hand, as regards that which is consequent upon or accessory to a state, the work of one may avail another, not only by way of prayer but even by way of merit: and this happens in two ways. First, on account of their communion in the root of the work, which root is charity in meritorious works. Wherefore all who are united together by charity acquire some benefit from one another's works, albeit according to the measure of each one's state, since even in heaven each one will rejoice in the goods of others. Hence it is that the communion of saints is laid down as an article of faith. Secondly, through the intention of the doer who does certain works specially for the purpose that they may profit such persons: so that those works become somewhat the works of those for whom they are done, as though they were bestowed on them by the doer. Wherefore they can avail them either for the fulfillment of satisfaction or for some similar purpose that does not change their state.

Reply to Objection 1: This reaping is the receiving of eternal life, as stated in Jn 4,36, "And he that reapeth . . . gathereth fruit unto life everlasting." Now a share of eternal life is not given to a man save for his own works, for although we may impetrate for another that he obtain life, this never happens except by means of his own works, when namely, at the prayers of one, another is given the grace whereby he merits eternal life.

Reply to Objection 2: The work that is done for another becomes his for whom it is done: and in like manner the work done by a man who is one with me is somewhat mine. Hence it is not contrary to Divine justice if a man receives the fruit of the works done by a man who is one with him in charity, or of works done for him. This also happens according to human justice, so that the satisfaction offered by one is accepted in lieu of another's.

Reply to Objection 3: Praise is not given to a person save according to his relation to an act, wherefore praise is "in relation to something" (Ethic. i, 12). And since no man is made or shown to be well- or ill-disposed to something by another's deed, it follows that no man is praised for another's deeds save accidentally in so far as he is somewhat the cause of those deeds, by giving counsel, assistance, inducement, or by any other means. on the other hand, a work is meritorious to a person, not only by reason of his disposition, but also in view of something consequent upon his disposition or state, as evidenced by what has been said.

Reply to Objection 4: It is directly contrary to justice to take away from a person that which is his due: but to give a person what is not his due is not contrary to justice, but surpasses the bounds of justice, for it is liberality. Now a person cannot be hurt by the ills of another, unless he be deprived of something of his own. Consequently it is not becoming that one should be punished for another's sins, as it is that one should acquire some advantage from deeds of another.

Whether the dead can be assisted by the works of the living?


Objection 1: It would seem that the dead cannot be assisted by the works of the living. First, because the Apostle says (
2Co 5,10): "We must all be manifested before the judgment seat of Christ, that every one may receive the proper things of the body, according as he hath done." Therefore nothing can accrue to a man from the works of others, which are done after his death and when he is no longer in the body.

Objection 2: Further, this also seems to follow from the words of Apoc. 14:13, "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord . . . for their works follow them."

Objection 3: Further, it belongs only to one who is on the way to advance on account of some deed. Now after death men are no longer wayfarers, because to them the words of Jb 19,8, refer: "He hath hedged in my path round about, and I cannot pass." Therefore the dead cannot be assisted by a person's suffrages.

Objection 4: Further, no one is assisted by the deed of another, unless there be some community of life between them. Now there is no community between the dead and the living, as the Philosopher says (Ethic. i, 11). Therefore the suffrages of the living do not profit the dead.

On the contrary are the words of 2M 12,46: "It is . . . a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from sins." But this would not be profitable unless it were a help to them. Therefore the suffrages of the living profit the dead.

Further, Augustine says (De Cure pro Mort. i): "Of no small weight is the authority of the Church whereby she clearly approves of the custom whereby a commendation of the dead has a place in the prayers which the priests pour forth to the Lord God at His altar." This custom was established by the apostles themselves according to the Damascene in a sermon on suffrages for the dead [*De his qui in fide dormierunt, 3], where he expresses himself thus: "Realizing the nature of the Mysteries the disciples of the Saviour and His holy apostles sanctioned a commemoration of those who had died in the faith, being made in the awe-inspiring and life-giving Mysteries." This is also confirmed by the authority of Dionysius (Hier. Eccl.), where he mentions the rite of the Early Church in praying for the dead, and, moreover, asserts that the suffrages of the living profit the dead. Therefore we must believe this without any doubt.

I answer that, Charity, which is the bond uniting the members of the Church, extends not only to the living, but also to the dead who die in charity. For charity which is the life of the soul, even as the soul is the life of the body, has no end: "Charity never falleth away" (1Co 13,8). Moreover, the dead live in the memory of the living: wherefore the intention of the living can be directed to them. Hence the suffrages of the living profit the dead in two ways even as they profit the living, both on account of the bond of charity and on account of the intention being directed to them. Nevertheless, we must not believe that the suffrages of the living profit them so as to change their state from unhappiness to happiness or "vice versa"; but they avail for the diminution of punishment or something of the kind that involves no change in the state of the dead.

Reply to Objection 1: Man while living in the body merited that such things should avail him after death. Wherefore if he is assisted thereby after this life, this is, nevertheless, the result of the things he has done in the body.

Or we may reply, according to John Damascene, in the sermon quoted above, that these words refer to the retribution which will be made at the final judgment, of eternal glory or eternal unhappiness: for then each one will receive only according as he himself has done in the body. Meanwhile, however, he can be assisted by the suffrages of the living.

Reply to Objection 2: The words quoted refer expressly to the sequel of eternal retribution as is clear from the opening words: "Blessed are the dead," etc. Or we may reply that deeds done on their behalf are somewhat their own, as stated above.

Reply to Objection 3: Although, strictly speaking, after death souls are not in the state of the way, yet in a certain respect they are still on the way, in so far as they are delayed awhile in their advance towards their final award. Wherefore, strictly speaking, their way is hedged in round about, so that they can no more be changed by any works in respect of the state of happiness or unhappiness. Yet their way is not so hedged around that they cannot be helped by others in the matter of their being delayed from receiving their final award, because in this respect they are still wayfarers.

Reply to Objection 4: Although the communion of civic deeds whereof the Philosopher speaks, is impossible between the dead and the living, because the dead are outside civic life, the communication of the spiritual life is possible between them, for that life is founded on charity towards God, to Whom the spirits of the dead live.

Whether suffrages performed by sinners profit the dead?


Objection 1: It would seem that suffrages performed by sinners do not profit the dead. For, according to
Jn 9,31, "God doth not hear sinners." Now if their prayers were to profit those for whom they pray, they would be heard by God. Therefore the suffrages performed by them do not profit the dead.

Objection 2: Further, Gregory says (Pastoral i, 11) that "when an offensive person is sent to intercede, the wrath of the angered party is provoked to harsher measures." Now every sinner is offensive to God. Therefore God is not inclined to mercy by the suffrages of sinners, and consequently their suffrages are of no avail.

Objection 3: Further, a person's deed would seem to be more fruitful to the doer than to another. But a sinner merits naught for himself by his deeds. Much less, therefore, can he merit for another.

Objection 4: Further, every meritorious work must be a living work, that is to say, informed by charity. Now works done by sinners are dead. Therefore the dead for whom they are done cannot be assisted thereby.

Objection 5: On the contrary, No man can know for certain about another man whether the latter be in a state of sin or of grace. If, therefore, only those suffrages were profitable that are done by those who are in a state of grace, a man could not know of whom to ask suffrages for his dead, and consequently many would be deterred from obtaining suffrages.

Objection 6: Further, according to Augustine (Enchiridion cix), as quoted in the text (Sent. iv, D, 45), the dead are assisted by suffrages according as while living they merited to be assisted after death. Therefore the worth of suffrages is measured according to the disposition of the person for whom they are performed. Therefore it would appear that it differs not whether they be performed by good or by wicked persons.

I answer that, Two things may be considered in the suffrages performed by the wicked. First, the deed done, for instance the sacrifice of the altar. And since our sacraments have their efficacy from themselves independently of the deed of the doer, and are equally efficacious by whomsoever they are performed, in this respect the suffrages of the wicked profit the departed. Secondly, we may consider the deed of the doer, and then we must draw a distinction; because the deed of a sinner who offers suffrage may be considered---in one way in so far as it is his own deed, and thus it can nowise be meritorious either to himself or to another; in another way in so far as it is another's deed, and this happens in two ways. First, when the sinner, offering suffrages, represents the whole Church; for instance a priest when he performs the burial service in church. And since one in whose name or in whose stead a thing is done is understood to do it himself as Dionysius asserts (Coel. Hier. xiii), it follows that the suffrages of that priest, albeit a sinner, profit the departed. Secondly, when he acts as the instrument of another: for the work of the instrument belongs more to the principal agent. Wherefore, although he who acts as the instrument of another be not in a state of merit, his act may be meritorious on account of the principal agent: for instance if a servant being in sin do any work of mercy at the command of his master who has charity. Hence, if a person dying in charity command suffrages to be offered for him, or if some other person having charity prescribe them, those suffrages avail for the departed, even though the persons by whom they are performed be in sin. Nevertheless they would avail more if those persons were in charity, because then those works would be meritorious on two counts.

Reply to Objection 1: The prayer offered by a sinner is sometimes not his but another's, and consequently in this respect is worthy to be heard by God. Nevertheless, God sometimes hears sinners, when, to wit, they ask for something acceptable to God. For God dispenses His goods not only to the righteous but also to sinners (Mt 5,45), not indeed on account of their merits, but of His loving kindness. Hence a gloss on Jn 9,31, "God doth not hear sinners," says that "he speaks as one unanointed and as not seeing clearly."

Reply to Objection 2: Although the sinner's prayer is not acceptable in so far as he is offensive, it may be acceptable to God on account of another in whose stead or at whose command he offers the prayer.

Reply to Objection 3: The reason why the sinner who performs these suffrages gains nothing thereby is because he is not capable of profiting by reason of his own indisposition. Nevertheless, as stated above, it may in some way profit another, who is disposed.

Reply to Objection 4: Although the sinner's deed is not living in so far as it is his own, it may be living in so far as it is another's, as stated above.

Since, however, the arguments in the contrary sense would seem to show that it matters not whether one obtain suffrages from good or from evil persons, we must reply to them also.

Reply to Objection 5: Although one cannot know for certain about another whether he be in the state of salvation, one may infer it with probability from what one sees outwardly of a man: for a tree is known by its fruit (Mt 7,16).

Reply to Objection 6: In order that suffrage avail another, it is requisite that the one for whom it is performed be capable of availing by it: and a man has become capable of this by his own works which he did in his life-time. This is what Augustine means to say. Nevertheless, those works must be such that they can profit him, and this depends not on the person for whom the suffrage is performed, but rather on the one who offers the suffrages whether by performing them or by commanding them.

Whether suffrages offered by the living for the dead profit those who offer them?


Objection 1: It would seem that suffrages offered by the living for the dead do not profit those who offer them. For according to human justice a man is not absolved from his own debt if he pay a debt for another man. Therefore a man is not absolved from his own debt for the reason that by offering suffrages he has paid the debt of the one for whom he offered them.

Objection 2: Further, whatever a man does, he should do it as best he can. Now it is better to assist two than one. Therefore if one who by suffrages has paid the debt of a dead person is freed from his own debt, it would seem that one ought never to satisfy for oneself, but always for another.

Objection 3: Further, if the satisfaction of one who satisfies for another profits him equally with the one for whom he satisfies, it will likewise equally profit a third person if he satisfy for him at the same time, and likewise a fourth and so on. Therefore he might satisfy for all by one work of satisfaction; which is absurd.

On the contrary, It is written (
Ps 34,13): "My prayer shall be turned into my bosom." Therefore, in like manner, suffrages that are offered for others profit those who satisfy.

Further, the Damascene says in the sermon "On those who fell asleep in the faith: Just as when about to anoint a sick man with the ointment or other holy oil, first of all he, " namely the anointer, "shares in the anointing and thus proceeds to anoint the patient, so whoever strives for his neighbor's salvation first of all profits himself and afterwards his neighbor." And thus the question at issue is answered.

I answer that, The work of suffrage that is done for another may be considered in two ways. First, as expiating punishment by way of compensation which is a condition of satisfaction: and in this way the work of suffrage that is counted as belonging to the person for whom it is done, while absolving him from the debt of punishment, does not absolve the performer from his own debt of punishment, because in this compensation we have to consider the equality of justice: and this work of satisfaction can be equal to the one debt without being equal to the other, for the debts of two sinners require a greater satisfaction than the debt of one. Secondly, it may be considered as meriting eternal life, and this it has as proceeding from its root, which is charity: and in this way it profits not only the person for whom it is done, but also and still more the doer.

This suffices for the Replies to the Objections: for the first considered the work of suffrage as a work of satisfaction, while the others consider it as meritorious.

Whether suffrages profit those who are in hell?


Objection 1: It would seem that suffrages profit those who are in hell. For it is written (2M
2M 12,40): "They found under the coats of the slain some of the donaries of the idols . . . which the law forbiddeth to the Jews," and yet we read further on (2M 2M 12,43) that Judas "sent twelve thousand drachms of silver to Jerusalem . . . to be offered for the sins of the dead." Now it is clear that they sinned mortally through acting against the Law, and consequently that they died in mortal sin, and were taken to hell. Therefore suffrages profit those who are in hell.

Objection 2: Further, the text (Sent. iv, D, 45) quotes the saying of Augustine (Enchiridion cx) that "those whom suffrages profit gain either entire forgiveness, or at least an abatement of their damnation." Now only those who are in hell are said to be damned. Therefore suffrages profit even those who are in hell.

Objection 3: Further, Dionysius says (Eccl. Hier.): "If here the prayers of the righteous avail those who are alive, how much more do they, after death, profit those alone who are worthy of their holy prayers?" Hence we may gather that suffrages are more profitable to the dead than to the living. Now they profit the living even though they be in mortal sin, for the Church prays daily for sinners that they be converted to God. Therefore suffrages avail also for the dead who are in mortal sin.

Objection 4: Further, in the Lives of the Fathers (iii, 172; vi, 3) we read, and the Damascene relates in his sermon [*De his qui in fide dormierunt] that Macarius discovered the skull of a dead man on the road, and that after praying he asked whose head it was, and the head replied that it had belonged to a pagan priest who was condemned to hell; and yet he confessed that he and others were assisted by the prayers of Macarius. Therefore the suffrages of the Church profit even those who are in hell.

Objection 5: Further, the Damascene in the same sermon relates that Gregory, while praying for Trajan, heard a voice from heaven saying to him: "I have heard thy voice, and I pardon Trajan": and of this fact the Damascene adds in the same sermon, "the whole East and West are witnesses." Yet it is clear that Trajan was in hell, since "he put many martyrs to a cruel death" [*De his qui fide dormierunt]. Therefore the suffrages of the Church avail even for those who are in hell.

On the contrary, Dionysius says (Eccl. Hier. vii): "The high priest prays not for the unclean, because by so doing he would act counter to the Divine order," and consequently he says (Eccl. Hier. vii) that "he prays not that sinners be forgiven, because his prayer for them would not be heard." Therefore suffrages avail not those who are in hell.

Further, Gregory says (Moral. xxxiv, 19): "There is the same reason for not praying then" (namely after the judgment day) "for men condemned to the everlasting fire, as there is now for not praying for the devil and his angels who are sentenced to eternal punishment, and for this reason the saints pray not for dead unbelieving and wicked men, because, forsooth, knowing them to be already condemned to eternal punishment, they shrink from pleading for them by the merit of their prayers before they are summoned to the presence of the just Judge."

Further, the text (Sent. iv, D, 45) quotes the words of Augustine (De Verb. A post. Serm. xxxii): "If a man depart this life without the faith that worketh by charity and its sacraments, in vain do his friends have recourse to such like acts of kindness." Now all the damned come under that head. Therefore suffrages profit them not.

I answer that, There have been three opinions about the damned. For some have said that a twofold distinction must be made in this matter. First, as to time; for they said that after the judgment day no one in hell will be assisted by any suffrage, but that before the judgment day some are assisted by the suffrages of the Church. Secondly, they made a distinction among those who are detained in hell. Some of these, they said, are very bad, those namely who have died without faith and the sacraments, and these, since they were not of the Church, neither "by grace nor, by name" [*Cf. Oratio ad Vesperas, Fer. ii, post Dom. Pass.] can the suffrages of the Church avail; while others are not very bad, those namely who belonged to the Church as actual members, who had the faith, frequented the sacraments and performed works generically good, and for these the suffrages of the Church ought to avail. Yet they were confronted with a difficulty which troubled them, for it would seem to follow from this (since the punishment of hell is finite in intensity although infinite in duration) that a multiplicity of suffrages would take away that punishment altogether, which is the error of Origen (Peri Archon. i; cf. Gregory, Moral. xxxiv): and consequently endeavored in various ways to avoid this difficulty.

Praepositivus [*Gilbert Prevostin, Chancellor of the See of Paris, A.D. 1205-9] said that suffrages for the damned can be so multiplied that they are entirely freed from punishment, not absolutely as Origen maintained, but for a time, namely till the judgment day: for their souls will be reunited to their bodies, and will be cast back into the punishments of hell without hope of pardon. But this opinion seems incompatible with Divine providence, which leaves nothing inordinate in the world. For guilt cannot be restored to order save by punishment: wherefore it is impossible for punishment to cease, unless first of all guilt be expiated: so that, as guilt remains for ever in the damned, their punishment will nowise be interrupted.

For this reason the followers of Gilbert de la Porree devised another explanation. These said that the process in the diminution of punishments by suffrages is as the process in dividing a line, which though finite, is indefinitely divisible, and is never destroyed by division, if it be diminished not by equal but by proportionate quantities, for instance if we begin by taking away a quarter of the whole, and secondly, a quarter of that quarter, and then a quarter of this second quarter, and so on indefinitely. In like manner, they say by the first suffrage a certain proportion of the punishment is taken away, and by the second an equally proportionate part of the remainder. But this explanation is in many ways defective. First, because it seems that indefinite division which is applicable to continuous quantity cannot be transferred to spiritual quantity: secondly, because there is no reason why the second suffrage, if it be of equal worth, should diminish the punishment less than the first: thirdly, because punishment cannot be diminished unless guilt be diminished, even as it cannot be done away unless the guilt be done away: fourthly, because in the division of a line we come at length to something which is not sensible, for a sensible body is not indefinitely divisible: and thus it would follow that after many suffrages the remaining punishment would be so little as not to be felt, and thus would no longer be a punishment.

Hence others found another explanation. For Antissiodorensis [*William of Auxerre, Archdeacon of Beauvais] (Sent. iv, Tract. 14) said that suffrages profit the damned not by diminishing or interrupting their punishment, but by fortifying the person punished: even as a man who is carrying a heavy load might bathe his face in water, for thus he would be enabled to carry it better, and yet his load would be none the lighter. But this again is impossible, because according to Gregory (Moral. ix) a man suffers more or less from the eternal fire according as his guilt deserves; and consequently some suffer more, some less, from the same fire. wherefore since the guilt of the damned remains unchanged, it cannot be that he suffers less punishment. Moreover, the aforesaid opinion is presumptuous, as being in opposition to the statements of holy men, and groundless as being based on no authority. It is also unreasonable. First, because the damned in hell are cut off from the bond of charity in virtue of which the departed are in touch with the works of the living. Secondly, because they have entirely come to the end of life, and have received the final award for their merits, even as the saints who are in heaven. For the remaining punishment or glory of the body does not make them to be wayfarers, since glory essentially and radically resides in the soul. It is the same with the unhappiness of the damned, wherefore their punishment cannot be diminished as neither can the glory of the saints be increased as to the essential reward.

However, we may admit, in a certain measure, the manner in which, according to some, suffrages profit the damned, if it be said that they profit neither by diminishing nor interrupting their punishment, nor again by diminishing their sense of punishment, but by withdrawing from the damned some matter of grief, which matter they might have if they knew themselves to be so outcast as to be a care to no one; and this matter of grief is withdrawn from them when suffrages are offered for them. Yet even this is impossible according to the general law, because as Augustine says (De Cura pro Mort. xiii)---and this applies especially to the damned---"the spirits of the departed are where they see nothing of what men do or of what happens to them in this life," and consequently they know not when suffrages are offered for them, unless this relief be granted from above to some of the damned in spite of the general law. This, however, is a matter of great uncertainty; wherefore it is safer to say simply that suffrages profit not the damned, nor does the Church intend to pray for them, as appears from the authors quoted above.

Reply to Objection 1: The donaries to the idols were not found on those dead so that they might be taken as a sign that they were carried off in reverence to the idols: but they took them as conquerors because they were due to them by right of war. They sinned, however, venially by covetousness: and consequently they were not damned in hell, and thus suffrages could profit them. or we may say, according to some, that in the midst of fighting, seeing they were in danger, they repented of their sin, according to Ps 77,34, "When He slew them, then they sought Him": and this is a probable opinion. Wherefore the offering was made for them.

Reply to Objection 2: In these words damnation is taken in a broad sense for any kind of punishment, so as to include also the punishment of purgatory which is sometimes entirely expiated by suffrages, and sometimes not entirety, but diminished.

Reply to Objection 3: Suffrage for a dead person is more acceptable than for a living person, as regards his being in greater want, since he cannot help himself as a living person can. But a living person is better off in that he can be taken from the state of mortal sin to the state of grace, which cannot be said of the dead. Hence there is not the same reason for praying for the dead as for the living.

Reply to Objection 4: This assistance did not consist in a diminishment of their punishment, but in this alone (as stated in the same place) that when he prayed they were permitted to see one another, and in this they had a certain joy, not real but imaginary, in the fulfillment of their desire. Even so the demons are said to rejoice when they draw men into sin, although this nowise diminishes their punishment, as neither is the joy of the angels diminished by the fact that they take pity on our ills.

Reply to Objection 5: Concerning the incident of Trajan it may be supposed with probability that he was recalled to life at the prayers of blessed Gregory, and thus obtained the grace whereby he received the pardon of his sins and in consequence was freed from punishment. The same applies to all those who were miraculously raised from the dead, many of whom were evidently idolaters and damned. For we must needs say likewise of all such persons that they were consigned to hell, not finally, but as was actually due to their own merits according to justice: and that according to higher causes, in view of which it was foreseen that they would be recalled to life, they were to be disposed of otherwise.

Or we may say with some that Trajan's soul was not simply freed from the debt of eternal punishment, but that his punishment was suspended for a time, that is, until the judgment day. Nor does it follow that this is the general result of suffrages, because things happen differently in accordance with the general law from that which is permitted in particular cases and by privilege. Even so the bounds of human affairs differ from those of the miracles of the Divine power as Augustine says (De Cura pro Mort. xvi).

Summa - Supplement 1420