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Catholic Dictionary




The intuitive knowledge of God which produces heavenly beatitude. As defined by the Church, the souls of the just "see the divine essence by an intuitive vision and face to face, so that the divine essence is known immediately, showing itself plainly, clearly and openly, and not immediately through any creature" (Denzinger 1000-2). Moreover, the souls of the saints "clearly behold God, one and triune, as He is" (Denzinger 1304-6). It is called vision in the mind by analogy with bodily sight, which is the most comprehensive of human sense faculties; it is called beatific because it produces happiness in the will and the whole being. As a result of this immediate vision of God, the blessed share in the divine happiness, where the beatitude of the Trinity is (humanly speaking) the consequence of God's perfect knowledge of his infinite goodness. The beatific vision is also enjoyed by the angels, and was possessed by Christ in his human nature even while he was in his mortal life on earth. (Etym. Latin beatificus, beatific, blissful, imparting great happiness or blessedness; from beatus, happy.)