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  • Peter of Candia on Demonstrating that God is the Sole Object of Beatific Enjoyment1
  • Severin Valentinov Kitanov

I. The Concept of Beatific Enjoyment

The locus classicus for the medieval scholastic discussion of beatific enjoyment2 is the first distinction of Book I of Peter [End Page 427] Lombard's Sentences.3 Lombard extracts three distinct formulations of the term "enjoyment" (fruitio) from Augustine's writings. The first formulation is borrowed from the first book of Augustine's treatise On Christian Learning (De doctrina Christiana). The formulation states that "to enjoy is to inhere with love in something for its own sake."4 The other two formulations are taken from Book X of Augustine's work On the Trinity (De Trinitate). The first reads as follows: "we enjoy the things that we know, when the will rests, by delighting in them for their own sake."5 The second says that "to enjoy is to use with gladness (gaudium), not merely through hope, but already in reality."6 These truncated statements served as technical definitions of the concept of enjoyment in scholastic Sentences commentaries.7 It was thought that the definitions call attention to the various psychological factors required for enjoyment to occur. For instance, the theologian Alexander [End Page 428] of Hales8 explains that the definitions reveal distinct aspects of enjoyment with respect to the subject experiencing it and with respect to the object motivating the enjoyment. The expression "to inhere with love" refers to the soul on the part of the subject and to God on the part of the object. The saying "to use with gladness" relates to the power of the soul (potentia) on the side of the subject and to created beatitude on the side of the object. Finally, the phrase "we enjoy the things that we know" corresponds to the faculty of the will (voluntas) as well as to the uncreated divine persons.9 Alexander would thus say that an adequate treatment of Augustine's concept of enjoyment must take into account the subject involved in the activity of enjoyment – e.g., the human soul, the faculty of the will, the faculty of cognition, etc. – and the object or objects of an act of enjoyment – created beatitude, the persons of the Trinity, or simply God.

A slightly different reading of Augustine's definitions of enjoyment is found in Thomas Aquinas's Sentences commentary. In his literal exposition of the first distinction of Lombard's Sentences, Thomas notes that a perfect definition of a thing must disclose all of its proper causes.10 He then offers [End Page 429] an explanation of the way in which Augustine's three definitions aim to clarify the concept of enjoyment. According to Thomas, the statement "to inhere in something with love for its own sake" portrays the act of enjoyment in relation to the object as a thing worthy for its own sake and the habit of love causing the enjoyment. The second formulation – "we enjoy the things that we know, etc." – links the act of enjoyment with the faculty of cognition required for the activation of the will. The third formulation – "to enjoy is to use with gladness" – refers primarily to the property of delight (or pleasure), which accompanies the obtainment of the desired object and perfects the act of enjoyment.11 Thomas, thus, identifies three factors contributing to the occurrence of an act of enjoyment – habit, cognition, and delight (or pleasure). In the first article of the first question of his commentary on Book I of the Sentences, Thomas states that enjoyment (fruitio) is the ultimate happiness (felicitas) of a human being. Enjoyment requires the clear intellectual vision of God, it involves an union as well as a sort of a mutual penetration through love between the one who sees and the thing that is seen, and it culminates in supreme delight (summa delectatio). Thomas also says that enjoyment is an act of the will manifesting the habit of charity.12 In his Summa theologiae Ia IIae, Thomas [End Page 430] defines enjoyment as an act of the appetitive faculty (potentia appetitiva), and says that enjoyment concerns love (amor) and the delight (delectatio) that...