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Editor’s Note: This series on Apologetics is based on the book Catholicism & Reason. Please feel free to use the series for high schoolers or adults. We will continue to welcome your questions for the column as well. You can send them either to the postal mailing address or to the email address below, and we will interrupt this series to answer them.

Special Course On Catholicism And Reason (Chapter 21)

All of us will die one day because of Original Sin. That’s the bad news. The good news is that death is not the end; it is only a bridge from this world of joy and sorrow to the always joyful world of Heaven. It’s like going from a falling-down shack to a beautiful mansion. We know that we will rise again after our death here on Earth because Jesus rose from the dead and said, “I am the resurrection and the life . . . and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:25-26). He meant that while our life on Earth will come to an end, that life will continue forever in Heaven.
After we die, we will face an individual or particular judgment. We will come before Jesus and see all the good and all the bad we did during our life on Earth. Our final destiny will be determined forever at that time, either eternal joy in Heaven, eternal punishment in Hell, or a time of purification in Purgatory. There will be no second chances because we had many chances to choose to follow Jesus while we were here on Earth. There will be a general judgment at the end of the world when all people who ever lived will be gathered to hear God explain how all the bits and pieces of human history fit into His plan of salvation. This final judgment will not change our fate as pronounced at the particular judgment, but it will bring all salvation history to a close.
The first possible destination we face after death is Purgatory. This is a place or a state for those who died with unforgiven venial sin or with some punishment still attached to mortal sins that were forgiven. Think of it in terms of what happens to a high schooler who breaks curfew and arrives home drunk at three in the morning. He expresses sincere sorrow for his actions, and his parents accept his apology, but they ground him for a month. So, too, will we be “grounded” in Purgatory until we have completed the punishment due to our sins. The good news is that the pain and suffering of Purgatory are temporary, and that all those in Purgatory will eventually get to Heaven.
The second possible, and most frightening, destination we face after death is Hell. Some people today don’t believe in Hell, or if they do believe in it, they don’t think anyone goes there. But Jesus talked more about Hell than about Heaven, and He made clear that those who reject His Commandments and teachings will be thrown “into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41).
It is only logical that those who stubbornly turned away from God all their lives would not want to be with Him in the next life. God does not send anyone to Hell; people send themselves there by their evil choices. Those who wanted nothing to do with God will get their wish — eternal separation from Him.
The Blessed Mother, in her appearance to the children in Fatima on July 13, 1917, and St. Teresa of Avila, who was given a horrifying vision of Hell, testify to the torments of Hell, where the souls of the damned suffer excruciating pain from a fire that does not destroy the person, but rather tortures them internally. The most terrible pain of Hell, said St. Teresa, “was the thought that these horrible pains were without end, without the possibility of alleviation.” As Jesus made clear in His parable about the rich man and Lazarus (see Luke 16:19-31), there is no escape from Hell once you are there.
The third possible destination for us, and the one most desired, is Heaven. It is a place or state of never-ending joy where we will see Jesus and His Mother Mary, all the saints who ever lived, and family and friends. St. Paul said that there are no words to describe Heaven or what God has planned for those who love Him. Our bodies will be rejoined with our souls in Heaven, but we will have a glorified body, like that of Jesus after He rose from the dead.
Our bodies in Heaven will have four qualities: (1) They will be beautiful and radiant, with no deformities or handicaps left from life on Earth, and they will shine like Jesus’ body did when He was glorified on the mountain (see Luke 9:28-36). (2) They will be incapable of suffering, sorrow, sickness, or death. (3) They will be able to pass through closed doors, as Christ did on the night of His Resurrection. (4) They will be able to move with great speed from one place to another, as Jesus did during the forty days after Easter.

List of Answers:

BODIES
GENERAL
GOD
HEAVEN
HELL
JESUS
JUDGMENT
ORIGINAL
PAUL
PURGATORY
PUNISHMENT
TERESA

Quiz:

  1. _ Sin is the reason that all people will eventually die.
  2. We will rise from the dead because __ promised this to us.
  3. Every person will face an individual or particular __ at the end of life.
  4. There will be a ______________ judgment at the end of the world.
  5. ________________ is a place or state where we will be purified for Heaven.
  6. This purification is necessary because of _______________ attached to our sins.
  7. Jesus talked more about __________ than about Heaven.
  8. _____ does not send anyone to Hell; they send themselves there by their bad choices.
  9. St. _______ of Avila was given a horrifying vision of Hell.
  10. Our best possible destination after we die is __.
  11. St. __ said that there are no adequate words to describe the joy of Heaven.
  12. Our __ in Heaven will have four wonderful qualities.
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Today . . .

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Catholic Replies

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