Summa Theologiae by St Thomas Aquinas
XP: Treatise On The Last Things
Q95 Of The Gifts* Of The Blessed
< previous   Article 1   next >

Prologue   A1   A2   A3   A4   A5  

A1 Whether any gifts should be assigned as dowry to the blessed?

[a] Objection 1:
It would seem that no gifts should be assigned as dowry to the blessed. For a dowry (Cod. v, 12, De jure dot. 20: Dig. xxiii, 3, De jure dot.) is given to the bridegroom for the upkeep of the burdens of marriage. But the saints resemble not the bridegroom but the bride, as being members of the Church. Therefore they receive no dowry.

[b] Objection 2:
Further, the dowry is given not by the bridegroom's father, but by the father of the bride (Cod. v, 11, De dot. promiss., 1: Dig. xxiii, 2, De rit. nup.). Now all the beatific gifts are bestowed on the blessed by the father of the bridegroom, i. e. Christ: "Every best gift and every perfect gift is from above coming down from the Father of lights." Therefore these gifts which are bestowed on the blessed should not be called a dowry.

[c] Objection 3:
Further, in carnal marriage a dowry is given that the burdens of marriage may be the more easily borne. But in spiritual marriage there are no burdens, especially in the state of the Church triumphant. Therefore no dowry should be assigned to that state.

[d] Objection 4:
Further, a dowry is not given save on the occasion of marriage. But a spiritual marriage is contracted with Christ by faith in the state of the Church militant. Therefore if a dowry is befitting the blessed, for the same reason it will be befitting the saints who are wayfarers. But it is not befitting the latter: and therefore neither is it befitting the blessed.

[e] Objection 5:
Further, a dowry pertains to external goods, which are styled goods of fortune: whereas the reward of the blessed will consist of internal goods. Therefore they should not be called a dowry.

[f] On the contrary,
It is written (Eph. 5:32): "This is a great sacrament: but I speak in Christ and in the Church." Hence it follows that the spiritual marriage is signified by the carnal marriage. But in a carnal marriage the dowered bride is brought to the dwelling of the bridegroom. Therefore since the saints are brought to Christ's dwelling when they are beatified, it would seem that they are dowered with certain gifts.

[g] Further, a dowry is appointed to carnal marriage for the ease of marriage. But the spiritual marriage is more blissful than the carnal marriage. Therefore a dowry should be especially assigned thereto.

[h] Further, the adornment of the bride is part of the dowry. Now the saints are adorned when they are taken into glory, according to Is. 61:10, "He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation... as a bride adorned with her jewels." Therefore the saints in heaven have a dowry.

[i] I answer that,
Without doubt the blessed when they are brought into glory are dowered by God with certain gifts for their adornment, and this adornment is called their dowry by the masters. Hence the dower of which we speak now is defined thus: "The dowry is the everlasting adornment of soul and body adequate to life, lasting for ever in eternal bliss." This description is taken from a likeness to the material dowry whereby the bride is adorned and the husband provided with an adequate support for his wife and children, and yet the dowry remains inalienable from the bride, so that if the marriage union be severed it reverts to her. As to the reason of the name there are various opinions. For some say that the name "dowry" is taken not from a likeness to the corporeal marriage, but according to the manner of speaking whereby any perfection or adornment of any person whatever is called an endowment; thus a man who is proficient in knowledge is said to be endowed with knowledge, and in this sense ovid employed the word "endowment" (De Arte Amandi i, 538): "By whatever endowment thou canst please, strive to please." But this does not seem quite fitting, for whenever a term is employed to signify a certain thing principally, it is not usually transferred to another save by reason of some likeness. Wherefore since by its primary signification a dowry refers to carnal marriage, it follows that in every other application of the term we must observe some kind of likeness to its principal signification. Consequently others say that the likeness consists in the fact that in carnal marriage a dowry is properly a gift bestowed by the bridegroom on the bride for her adornment when she is taken to the bridegroom's dwelling: and that this is shown by the words of Sichem to Jacob and his sons (Gn. 34:12): "Raise the dowry, and ask gifts," and from Ex. 22:16: "If a man seduce a virgin... and lie with her, he shall endow her, and have her to wife." Hence the adornment bestowed by Christ on the saints, when they are brought into the abode of glory, is called a dowry. But this is clearly contrary to what jurists say, to whom it belongs to treat of these matters. For they say that a dowry, properly speaking, is a donation on the part of the wife made to those who are on the part of the husband, in view of the marriage burden which the husband has to bear; while that which the bridegroom gives the bride is called "a donation in view of marriage." In this sense dowry is taken (3 Kings 9:16) where it is stated that "Pharoa, the king of Egypt, took Gezer... and gave it for a dowry to his daughter, Solomon's wife." Nor do the authorities quoted prove anything to the contrary. For although it is customary for a dowry to be given by the maiden's parents, it happens sometimes that the bridegroom or his father gives the dowry instead of the bride's father; and this happens in two ways: either by reason of his very great love for the bride as in the case of Sichem's father Hemor, who on account of his son's great love for the maiden wished to give the dowry which he had a right to receive; or as a punishment on the bridegroom, that he should out of his own possessions give a dowry to the virgin seduced by him, whereas he should have received it from the girl's father. In this sense Moses speaks in the passage quoted above. Wherefore in the opinion of others we should hold that in carnal marriage a dowry, properly speaking, is that which is given by those on the wife's side to those on the husband's side, for the bearing of the marriage burden, as stated above. Yet the difficulty remains how this signification can be adapted to the case in point, since the heavenly adornments are given to the spiritual spouse by the Father of the Bridegroom. This shall be made clear by replying to the objections.

[j] Reply to Objection 1:
Although in carnal marriage the dowry is given to the bridegroom for his use, yet the ownership and control belong to the bride: which is evident by the fact that if the marriage be dissolved, the dowry reverts to the bride according to law (Cap. 1, 2, 3, De donat. inter virum et uxorem). Thus also in spiritual marriage, the very adornments bestowed on the spiritual bride, namely the Church in her members, belong indeed to the Bridegroom, in so far as they conduce to His glory and honor, yet to the bride as adorned thereby.

[k] Reply to Objection 2:
The Father of the Bridegroom, that is of Christ, is the Person of the Father alone: while the Father of the bride is the whole Trinity, since that which is effected in creatures belongs to the whole Trinity. Hence in spiritual marriage these endowments, properly speaking, are given by the Father of the bride rather than by the Father of the Bridegroom. Nevertheless, although this endowment is made by all the Persons, it may be in a manner appropriated to each Person. To the Person of the Father, as endowing, since He possesses authority; and fatherhood in relation to creatures is also appropriated to Him, so that He is Father of both Bridegroom and bride. To the Son it is appropriated, inasmuch as it is made for His sake and through Him: and to the Holy Ghost, inasmuch as it is made in Him and according to Him, since love is the reason of all giving [* Cf. [5137] FP, Q [38], A [2]].

[l] Reply to Objection 3:
That which is effected by the dowry belongs to the dowry by its nature, and that is the ease of marriage: while that which the dowry removes, namely the marriage burden which is lightened thereby, belongs to it accidentally: thus it belongs to grace by its nature to make a man righteous, but accidentally to make an ungodly man righteous. Accordingly, though there are no burdens in the spiritual marriage, there is the greatest gladness; and that this gladness may be perfected the bride is dowered with gifts, so that by their means she may be happily united with the bridegroom.

[m] Reply to Objection 4:
The dowry is usually settled on the bride not when she is espoused, but when she is taken to the bridegroom's dwelling, so as to be in the presence of the bridegroom, since "while we are in the body we are absent from the Lord" (2 Cor. 5:6). Hence the gifts bestowed on the saints in this life are not called a dowry, but those which are bestowed on them when they are received into glory, where the Bridegroom delights them with His presence.

[n] Reply to Objection 5:
In spiritual marriage inward comeliness is required, wherefore it is written (Ps. 44:14): "All the glory of the king's daughter is within," etc. But in carnal marriage outward comeliness is necessary. Hence there is no need for a dowry of this kind to be appointed in spiritual marriage as in carnal marriage.