What happens to people when they die? (CCC 1021-1022)
after death, will end up in one of three places – Heaven, Hell
What is Heaven? (CCC 1023-1029)
Heaven is a
place of eternal happiness in total union with God, and through
Him, union with one another. In heaven, there is no suffering,
sickness, deformity or pain. All of our desires will be filled
to overflowing, and we will be like Him; we will share in his
divinity. Here we will see God face to face, we will know Him
perfectly, and we will participate in His life. This is called
the beatific vision.
How do I make to Heaven? (CCC 1023)
we must freely believe in all God has revealed and we must act
on these beliefs in our lives. Most importantly, it means having
faith Jesus Christ His Son; that He was born on earth, died, and
resurrected in order to save us so that we could be an
adopted child of God. What does this mean for us in our everyday
life? We must live in His friendship and grace. It means we
must, by our thoughts, words and actions,
try to love God and one another to the best of our ability,
choosing God first in all things out of love for Him. If we
fail, we must repent with humility, trusting in His mercy and
His desire to always forgive us.
What is hell? (CCC 1033-1037)
Hell is for
those who have rejected the love and mercy of God by the
decisions they have made on earth. They have sinned gravely
(mortal sin) against God, neighbor, or themselves, and they have
not repented. It is a place of eternal suffering, the chief
punishment being separation from God, the source of all good.
All are created for heaven and eternal happiness with God.
However, He has gifted us with free will, which He will not
violate. Therefore, if we choose to say “no” to His invitation
to heaven, willfully and freely turning away from Him, He will
respect that choice. (CCC 1033-1037)
Why would someone ever choose hell? (CCC 1036-1037)
be loved first before all else. Some people, however, choose to
love other things at the expense of loving God – themselves,
things, pleasure. All of these things are good, but when they
are placed in front of the Lord, it is a rejection of Him and
His love for us. These things do not bring the happiness that
can be found only in God. When a person willfully rejects God by
choosing something else, and does not repent, he will spend
eternity in this state of separation, which he created for
What is Purgatory? (CCC 1030-1032)
a place where souls go who have died in the grace and friendship
of God. However, these souls still have to be fully purified of
their imperfections before they enter heaven. Purgatory is the
place of this final purification, accomplished through
suffering, and it is only for souls who are eventually
going to heaven. No soul in purgatory will ever go to hell.
Why is Purgatory necessary? Why can’t souls go straight to
heaven if they have died in God’s friendship and grace? (Purgatory,
Fr. F.X. Schouppe)
Allow a few
examples to help explain. Keep in mind that no analogy fully
explains or does justice to the real thing, but they can help us
us say that a person purposely breaks his neighbor’s window.
Afterwards he feels sorry for it, and he goes to the neighbor’s
house to apologize. The neighbor accepts the apology and
forgives him. However, the neighbor also asks him to fix the
broken window, and if the person is truly sorry, he should want
to do so, and even offer to do so, before it is required of him.
This situation is repeated constantly in families, schools, and
our justice system; justice is consequences for an offense, not
merely an apology. Purgatory is “making up for” the offenses
committed (sins) during our lives. What we pay is termed
temporal consequences for our sins.
person tied to the earth with hundreds of ropes. This is the
human problem. We are attached to earthly things instead of God.
During our life, our purification consists of cutting the ropes
holding us to earth and reattaching ourselves to the Lord above.
Each cut and reattachment causes pain and suffering, but in the
end, joy. The cutting could be looked at as the temporal
punishment of sin. In order to go to Heaven, we must be
completely unattached from earth and attached to the Lord. If we
do not finish this work of purification on earth (which we can),
we will finish it in Purgatory.
There is no sin or imperfection in heaven. Our lives on earth
are dedicated to filling the “holes” and wounds caused by sin.
It is a painful process that involves suffering. This suffering
restores us. We will not enter heaven until the process is
complete, until all darkness is filled with light. What we do
not finish on earth, we will finish in Purgatory.
How long do people spend in Purgatory? (Purgatory, Fr.
with each person. Each person is there the amount of time he or
she needs. For some, it may be only a second, whereas others may
be there until Jesus comes again.
Can a person spend eternity in Purgatory? (Purgatory, Fr.
Jesus comes again (the Second Coming), all souls in Purgatory
will go to Heaven.
What do the souls in Purgatory do? (CCC 1030-1032)
revelations of many saints and the Church’s rich Tradition, we
know that it is a place of suffering, a “purifying fire.” (1 Cor
3:15, 1 Pt 1:7) Generally, we believe there are two primary
means of suffering, suffering of the senses and the spirit.
Suffering of the senses refers to physical pain. Suffering of
the spirit is the suffering due to a state of separation from
God. This suffering is the greatest and most painful.
Is the suffering in Purgatory similar to the suffering in Hell?
(Purgatory, Fr. F.X. Schouppe)
suffering in Purgatory is indeed great, but there are some
essential differences that make it completely distinct from the
sufferings of Hell. First, the souls in Purgatory have inner
peace and even joy primarily because they are certain of going
to Heaven. As well, when a person dies, he is given full clarity
concerning the state of his soul. Therefore, he is fully aware
of his just due – Heaven, Hell or Purgatory. A soul who must
undergo the purifications of Purgatory knows perfectly that he
needs it, and in fact, he wants it. Presented with the majesty
of God and the perfection of Heaven, a soul in need of
purification would never want to enter Heaven until he is
completely clean and perfected.
Is it better to suffer on earth or in Purgatory? (Purgatory,
Fr. F.X. Schouppe)
question, it is better to suffer on earth for 3 important
suffering on earth is easier and less painful.
increase our own merit with our sufferings here on earth.
However, our sufferings in Purgatory earn us no extra merit. All
opportunity to gain merit ends at death. Here is a simple
example to illustrate. Imagine we are “cups” of all sizes, meant
to be filled with God’s grace. Sin empties us, taking away
grace. Each time we suffer on earth and unite our sufferings to
Christ’s, offering them as a sacrifice to the Lord for ourselves
and others, we not only add grace to our cup, but we increase
the size of our cup. Therefore, each time we embrace
suffering as God’s gift for our betterment, we increase our
capacity to hold more grace. In Heaven, our “cup” will be
completely filled, no matter our size. All souls will be
completely happy and fulfilled, but some will have the capacity
to hold more. This “extra capacity” is the merit we have earned
on earth by saying to “yes” to all God sends us. However, in
Purgatory, our sufferings do not increase the size of our “cup”
time we embrace suffering here on earth with love, not only do
we bring grace to ourselves, but also to the whole world.
This perhaps is the greatest reason to willingly embrace
suffering here on earth because it is true charity toward
others. Each good act here on earth has positive benefits for
the entire Body of Christ, i.e. fellow man. Each act brings
grace into us and the world. Suffering in purgatory does
not bring grace to the world; it simply serves as a means to
purify us, but brings no added grace or merit to anyone on
earth. True charity impels us to desire suffering on earth in
order that we can help others by accepting our own. Many of the
saints actually said that the angels have a holy jealousy toward
us because of our ability to suffer, which demonstrates our love
for God and others.
Can we on earth help souls get out of Purgatory? (Purgatory,
Fr. F.X. Schouppe)
Yes. We can
offer prayers, sacrifices, and alms for the souls in Purgatory.
The offering of the Mass is the greatest way to help a soul
leave Purgatory. The souls in Purgatory are part of the Church.
Acts we perform on earth benefit all members of the Church – on
earth and in Purgatory.
When we die, do we automatically go to heaven, hell or
purgatory, or is there someplace where we wait for a while? (CCC
upon death, every soul undergoes a particular judgment by
God. The soul will be judged on his faith and works, and will
immediately receive his just due – Heaven, Purgatory or Hell.
Do we still have our bodies when we die? (CCC 988-1001,
the soul will separated from its body, and at the particular
judgment only the soul (not the body) will initially go to its
eternal rest. The body itself will die and decay. However, our
souls will be reunited to our bodies when Christ comes
again for a second time. We will receive our own body back, but
it will be glorified, perfect and immortal. All people,
regardless of their eternal home, will receive their bodies
Will Jesus ever come again to earth? (CCC 668-679)
promises that He will come again. We call this the Second Coming
or the Parousia, when Christ comes to judge both those living
and those already dead. At this event, those who had died will
receive their bodies back. There will be a general judgment of
all mankind (distinct from the particular judgment at our death
between only a particular soul and God). This judgment will be
public. Purgatory will be eliminated (the souls will go to
Heaven), and all souls will either be in Heaven or Hell for
Will the world still exist after the Second Coming? (CCC
the Lord is establishing His kingdom here on earth through the
Church. But there will come a day in which evil is fully
defeated and banished and Christ will manifest His full reign.
The world as we know it will end, and God will establish a new
and perfect heavens and earth. The visible universe will be
transformed and will be no longer subject to sin or decay. God
will dwell among men, and all those in Heaven will enjoy perfect
happiness and peace with God.