Friday 26 March 2021

Aquinas on the Four Last Things - Kevin Vost - Everything You Need To Know About Death, Judgment, Heaven, and Hell

Aquinas on the Four Last Things: 
Everything You Need To Know About Death, Judgment, Heaven, and Hell
Dr. Kevin Vost
Sophia Institute Press
eISBN 9781644133002

I have been a fan do Dr. Vost’s writings since I first encountered them many years ago. Hos books tend top push me. They are books that make me think. That stretch me. That require some effort. And because of that they are excellent reads. I have benefited from every one of his books that I have read. And with each new book he releases, I am blessed yet again. That was the case with this volume as well. And as I have aged and grown over the years, I have been reading Dr. Vost’s books this one is an even more important read. I have read a few volumes on the Four Last Things, over the years, and this one examining them through the writings of Aquinas is by far one of the best. The description of this book is:

“We often think of death as the end, but it’s really just the beginning of eternal life. Death, judgment, heaven, and hell — often called the Four Last Things — are both awe-inspiring and fear-inducing, yet countless saints testify to the profound spiritual benefit of contemplating the awesome mysteries that await us in the afterlife.”

And the chapters are:

Introduction: The Most Important Things of All
Part 1 Matters of Death and Life
     Where Our Souls Go When We Die
     The State of Our Souls after Death
     On the Nature and Purpose of Purgatory
     On the State of the Souls in Purgatory
     On God’s Love for Unbaptized Souls
     Why We Should Pray for the Dead
     Why We Should Pray to the Saints
     Last Thoughts on the Last Things: Death

Part 2 Judgment Day
     Signs That Will Precede the Last Judgment
     On the Fire of the Final Conflagration
     Of the Resurrection
     The Cause of Our Resurrection
     When and How All Will Arise
     Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust: On Who and What Will Rise Again
     How We Will Regain the Same Body
     How Our Hair, Nails, and Bodily Fluids Arise!
     What Our Bodies Will Be Like at the Resurrection
     Ultimate Athletes for Christ: Impassible Glorified Bodies
     The Subtlety of Our Glorified Bodies
     Our Gloriously Agile New Bodies
     Seeking Mental Clarity about Bodily Clarity
     On the Sorry State of the Bodies of the Damned
     How All Will Know Our Sins and Our Merits
     The Time and Place of the General Judgment
     Here Comes the Judge! On the Form in Which He Will Appear to Us
     The Nature of the Universe after Judgment Day
     Last Thoughts on the Last Things: Judgment 

Part 3 To Heaven for Those Who Accept It
     On the Beatific Vision Bestowed on the Blessed
     Happy Saints in Their Heavenly Mansions 
     How the Saints Relate to the Damned
     Additional Gifts for the Blessed 
     How Some Will Merit Another Golden Crown 
     Last Thoughts on the Last Things: Heaven

Part 4 To Hell for Those Who Choose It
     On the Punishment of the Damned 
     Of the Will and Intellect of the Damned 
     On God’s Mercy and Justice toward the Damned 
     Last Thoughts on the Last Things: Hell
     Faith, Hope, Love, and the Four Things That Last 
About the Author

The introduction begins with:

“We tend to think of an end as something that comes last, and this is certainly correct in the case of the Four Last Things — death, judgment, heaven, and hell. They certainly do come last: at the end of our lives and the end of the world. Indeed, there is absolutely nothing of greater importance to each and every one of us than how and where we will spend eternity, enrapt in the unspeakable bliss of the Beatific Vision of God in heaven, or suffering unspeakable torments in the presence of Satan, within the depths of hell.”

This book answers 164 questions about things that occur before, during and after the resurrection. In each section Vost states that:

“Each chapter, I’ll begin by noting the amazing thoroughness with which Thomas addresses the question under review. Within each article, he first draws on Scripture and the works of Church Fathers to provide a series of realistic objections to his conclusions. Then, in an “On the contrary . . .” passage, he usually cites an authority in agreement with his conclusion. He then provides an “I answer that . . .” section in which he explains his own conclusion, and, to finish things off, he replies to each of the objections he identified.”

And further he states:

“Thomas has given us such a vast number of lasting thoughts about the Four Last Things that I hope and pray that you, dear reader, will be awed, amazed, and inspired as you discover what Thomas wrote about the wondrous things God has in store for us. Still, while Thomas gave us lasting words, he did not claim to give us the last word on the Four Last Things, since he knew God would continue to bless His Church with new saintly teachers until the end of time.”

And also:

“Therefore, while each of our chapters will stretch our understanding as we contemplate the awesome mysteries that St. Thomas illuminates, each of this book’s four parts will end with a “Last Thoughts” chapter, in which we will reflect on the spiritual lessons contained within the preceding chapters, sometimes with the help of the great saints who came after Thomas.”

And that quote sums up my response to this book, and to be honest most of Vost’s writings that I have read to date. This book has stretched my understanding. It has inspired me to contemplate and reflect on these mysteries. And it is a volume I know I will return to again, and benefit from even more on each subsequent reading. 

This is a volume all of us would benefit from reading. But be warned you will not be the same when you put it down. You cannot read this book and com away unchanged. It is a book that all Catholics, nay all Christians would benefit from reading. So I challenge you give it a read, It is of upmost importance. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Dr. Kevin Vost:
Full Range of Motive (2001)
Memorize the Faith! (2006)
Fit For Eternal Life (2007)
From Atheism to Catholicism (2010)
Unearthing Your Ten Talents (2010)
St. Albert the Great (2011)
Tending the Temple (2011)
Three Irish Saints (2012)
Memorize the Reasons! (2013)
One-Minute Aquinas (2014)
Hounds of the Lord (2015)
Seven Deadly Sins (2015)
Memorize the Mass! (2016)
Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit (2016)
The Porch and the Cross (2016)
The Catholic Guide to Loneliness (2017)
The Four Friendships (2018)
How to Think Like Aquinas (2018)
Memorize the Latin Mass! (2018)
12 Life Lessons from St. Thomas Aquinas (2019)

Aquinas on the Four Last Things (2021)

Books Contributed to:
Man Up! (2014)

Author profile interview with Dr. Kevin Vost.

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