Life After Death

What God Has Revealed About Life After Death
By Father James Chelich
CCC is an abbreviation for Catechism of the Catholic Church. The paragraph number is referenced. Death puts an end to human life as the time open to either accepting or rejecting the divine grace manifested in Christ. (CCC #1021) The Continued Existence of the Soul “Moses in the passage about the burning bush showed that the dead rise again when he called the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, God is not the God of the dead but of the living. All are alive for Him.” Luke 20:37 The Church teaches that every spiritual soul is created immediately by God — it is not “produced” by the parents — and also that it is immortal: it does not perish when it separates from the body at death, and it will be reunited with the body at the final resurrection. (CCC #366) Judgement Upon Death “It is appointed that men die once, and after death be judged,” Hebrews 9:27 “The lives of all of us are to be revealed before the tribunal of Christ so that each one may receive his recompense, good or bad, according to his life in the body.” 2 Corinthians 5:10 (See Luke 16:19-31 – The Rich Man and Lazarus) Each man receives his eternal retribution in his immortal soul at the very moment of death, in a particular judgement that refers his life to Christ: either entrance into the blessedness of heaven — through a purification or immediately, — or immediate and everlasting damnation. (CCC #1022) Heaven (Eternal Life) We enter into eternal life by FAITH… “Indeed, this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks upon the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life. Him I will raise up on the last day.” John 6:4 “The Father loves the Son and has given everything over to him. Whoever believes in the Son has life eternal.” John 3:35-36 …working through LOVE (Charity). (Ephesians 3:17-19) “Come, you have my Father’s blessing! Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink.. I was a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me…” Matthew 25:31-46 Those who die in grace and God’s friendship and are perfectly purified live for ever with Christ. They are like God for ever, for they “see Him as He is,’ face to face. (CCC #1023) This perfect life with the Most Holy Trinity…is called “heaven.” Heaven is the ultimate end and fulfillment of the deepest human longings, the state of supreme, definitive happiness. (CCC #1024) In the glory of heaven the blessed continue joyfully to fulfill God’s will in relation to other men and to all creation. (CCC #1029) Hell (Eternal Death) Hell is not a punishment inflicted by God. Hell is the consequence of human choice. Hell is “self-exclusion” — the refusal of Jesus’ offer of communion with God and all things through a personal bond with him. “God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him avoids condemnation but whoever does not believe is already condemned for not believing in the name of God’s only Son .” John 3:17-18 “Out of my sight, you condemned, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels! I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink. I was away from home and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing.” Matthew 25:31-46 (See also Matthew 5:22,29; 10:28; 13:42,50; Mark 9:43-48 — especially Matthew 13:41-42) We cannot be united with God unless we freely choose to love him, But we cannot love God if we sin gravely against him, against our neighbor or against ourselves… To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God’s merciful love means remaining separated from him forever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called “hell.” (CCC #1033) The Power of Choice “I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life then, that you and your descendants may live,by loving the Lord, your God, heeding his voice, and holding fast to him.” Deuteronomy 30:19b-20a “The judgement of condemnation is this: the light came into the world, but men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were wicked.” John 3:19 Mortal sin is a radical possibility of human freedom, as is love itself. It results in the loss of charity and the privation of sanctifying grace, that is, of the state of grace. If it is not redeemed, by repentance and God’s forgiveness, it causes exclusion from Christ’s kingdom and the eternal death of hell, for our freedom has the power to make choices for ever, with no turning back. However, although we can judge that an act is in itself a grave offense, we must entrust judgement of persons to the justice and mercy of God. (CCC #1861) Final Purification (Purgatory) “All of us, gazing on the Lord’s glory with unveiled faces, are being transformed from glory to glory into his very image by the Lord who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 Final purification is part of a larger spiritual process called “transformation in grace”. St Paul tells us: “You must put on that new man created in God’s image whose justice and holiness are born of truth.” (see Ephesians 4:17-24, Colossians 3:5-17) This transformation begins with an act of faith and a decision to follow Jesus. It continues to final purification in this life or in the next. Jesus says, “You must be made perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:48 All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven. (CCC #1030) The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of those eternally lost. (CCC #1031) One might ask: Imperfectly purified from what? The answer is: Sin. Actually, however, the question is better asked: Imperfectly purified (or perfected) in what? The answer is: purified in love and perfected in the arts of communion with God, others and all things. The Last Judgement “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, escorted by all the angels of heaven, he will sit upon his royal throne and all the nations will be assembled before him. Then he will separate them into two groups…” Matthew 25:31-46 In the presence of Christ, who is Truth itself, the truth of each man’s relationship with God will be laid bare. The Last Judgement will reveal even to its furthest consequences the good each person has done or failed to do during his earthly life. (CCC #1039) Then through his Son Jesus Christ (the Father) will pronounce the final word on all history. We shall know the ultimate meaning of the whole work of creation and of the entire economy of salvation and understand the marvelous ways by which his Providence led everything to its final end. (CCC #1040)