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What do Catholics believe happens to a person after death ?
Question from Maria on 12/30/2001:

What do Catholics believe happens to a person after death ?

Answer by Fr. John Echert on 12/31/2001:

Based upon Sacred Scripture and the teaching of the Church, we can say the following about death and what follows. At the moment of death, the soul is separated from the body and no longer sustains order within the natural body; as a result, the body begins to corrupt and left to its own will decompose. The soul, however, is immortal and never ceases to exist, once created. Immediately upon death, the soul of each person is judged by the Lord, either to eternal life or the damnation of hell. For those damned to hell, such a soul immediately experiences hell thereafter. For a soul judged to heaven, if the soul is truly holy then it may immediately experience the fullness of heaven. We call such souls “the saints.” For those who are judged to eternal life yet still have some attachment to sin or there is some temporal punishment due for sin, such a soul experiences purgatory in the manner that God determines. Purgatory is really a blessing, for not only does the soul know that it is destined for heaven but purgatory purges anything from the soul which would limit the vision and enjoyment of God in heaven. Eventually, when the end of the world comes about, there will be a resurrection of the bodies of all the dead and final judgment of all souls and the angels in which we will all see the justice and mercy of God. Our bodies will be resurrected and body and soul will be rejoined, for to be a human person means to have both body and soul. This is true both for the saved and the damned, and both will experience either eternal happiness or eternal suffering in both body and soul. ©

Thanks, Maria

Father Echert

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