Wisdom is something which we all naturally value, desire, and seek in this present life. Yet our wisdom in this present life, even for the most learned and astute of people, is always partial, fragmentary, and uncertain. But in the next life, the blessed souls in heaven shall possess wisdom which is of such a wonderful extent that there shall be absolutely nothing which they do not know or understand. For God shall permit and cause them to know everything which can be known, including all things past, present, and future.
In the kingdom of heaven, each shall know everything, and everyone and everything shall be perfectly known. There will be nothing which remains concealed, neither what homeland nor what people nor what family anyone has originated from nor what deeds anyone has done during the course of their earthly life.
But perhaps someone will be concerned when they hear this. “What?!” they may object, “Will all the sins I have committed while I was alive be known to all? Surely, if I have confessed them to a priest, they are entirely deleted and shall be completely forgotten in heaven!” Here, you speak well. But when you have entered the glory of heaven you shall be purged of all the culpability, shame, and guilt for your sins. And, as you stand before the face of God, it would surely be a mark of ingratitude for you not to have in your mind just how much mercy God has shown you and how many sins He has forgiven you? And how could you possibly give thanks to God for forgiving your sins unless some memory of them remains with you? Therefore, so that you may eternally thank God for His mercy to you, I believe that you will need to recall how great this mercy has actually been. And so the memory of sins, and their forgiveness, will necessarily remain.
Thus everything that is in the conscience of each blessed soul—including the sins which have been committed and forgiven—shall be known and clearly revealed to every other blessed soul. But this shall not be the source of any shame or confusion. On the contrary, it will then be the cause both of giving glory and thanks to God and a source of true joy and delight to the soul which has received the mercy of God. Certainly, once you have attained the glory of heaven, any sins you had committed during your earthly life will no longer be a source of anxiety to your conscience, nor shall they oppress your heart with any sense of guilt or shame. The situation will be similar to that of a person who has once suffered wounds, which are later perfectly healed. The former wounds no longer cause that person any discomfort, though the visible scars may remain. Or it may perhaps be compared to the condition of a person who has reached venerable and respectable old age; such a person 28 St. Anselm of Canterbury will normally not feel the slightest shame about the foibles and misdeeds they may have committed while they were still in their infancy or youth.
This article is taken from a chapter in The Glories of Heaven by St. Anselm of Canterbury, which is available from TAN Books.