The Four Last things: What happens after our death

3 08 2020

The Four Last things

Last month, I read about Eschatology, a Greek term that refers to the four last things in everyone’s life: death, judgment, heaven, and hell. Among these, the one that we are all familiar with, because we see it often, is death.  Still, most of us, perhaps out of fear, do not consider what happens after we die.

Death

Well, according to Catechism of the Catholic Church, death is the separation of soul from body. The soul, being spiritual cannot die. The soul is immortal, self-reflective, and aware and knows.  It possesses the ability to move from one place to another, passing through walls and things like that. More important, as soon as we die, God grants our soul light to see with perfect clarity, the good or evil aspects of the choices we have made throughout our lives up until the moment before our death. Death makes these choices permanent, and the soul adheres to these choices, and can neither change nor repent any longer.  Thus, the soul of the dead perseveres in choosing or rejecting God forever.  Death irrevocably fixes the good or evil we have chosen in life and we cannot change. Put another way, death is the end of testing process, what remains is either reward or punishment.  God immediately judges and rewards the good soul with heaven, and judges and punishes the evil soul with hell. If the soul is in state of grace with some imperfections, it goes to purgatory for purification.  This immediate judgment is the particular judgment and it is differs from the general judgment at the end of the world.

Immediately after death, the soul is Judged in the Particular Judgment

At the particular judgment, the soul of the dead appears immediately before God (even as the relatives are weeping or preparing the decomposing body for burial). God grants the soul light to see the choices made while alive. If it has chosen God (good) it rushed towards God who is infinite love, beauty, happiness, joy eternal blessedness and the very source of all that is lovely. If it has chosen evil, it rushes away from God, towards hell: hatred, evil, misery, emptiness, and eternal separation from God. The truth of the particular judgment and the immediate retribution or punishment at the moment of death is borne out in sacred scripture by the words of Jesus on the cross to the good thief “Today, you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).

Regarding the fittingness of immediate judgment after death, it is argued that, since a dead man cannot choose good or evil anymore, there is no reason to wait until for the final judgment at the end of time, to reward the just or punish the wicked. Besides, such a “waiting” or “delay” will only punish the just, keeping them in a state of permanent anxiety, not knowing their fate, while at the same time it would be a reward for the damned soul whose punishment is put off as it where for a very long time till the end of the world.

Purgatory

If the soul is imperfect, having no mortal sin, but retaining imperfections, it goes to a place of purification we Catholics call purgatory. This is because, before a soul enters heaven, every trace of imperfection must be eliminated, and all attachment to sin or evil destroyed, and purified.

Though many people (mainly Protestants) argue that there is no purgatory, for it is not explicitly stated in the bible, and since we are saved by faith Christ in alone, we are perfectly ripe for heaven when we die. Yet, the Church teaches that purgatory is in the bible, even though it is not explicitly mentioned.  The sense of purgatory is clear from the Old testament, second book of Maccabees where Judas Maccabee took and gathered a collection of money for the sin offering for the souls of the his dead men to be released from their sins.( Mac  12:39). In the New Testament, purgatory is even clearer.  1 Corinthians 3:10–15, talks about two fires, there is one fire to examine the good or evil of men’s deeds and another fire to purify them before they are saved. Experience tells us that there are different shades of perfection, and we all can grow in perfection. Thus, purgatory answers the question, “What happens to the soul of the imperfect who dies.”

This is why the Church offers the Eucharistic sacrifice of the Mass, during the funereal and encourages all to offer suffrages for the souls in Purgatory. The souls in purgatory by the nature of their state can no longer merit graces for themselves and are wholly dependent on the people on earth to pray for them.

Pain of loss & pain of the senses

The souls in purgatory suffer two kinds of pain. The pain of loss consists in a certain delay of seeing God. The souls in purgatory no longer desire material things; they only have one consuming desire, to see God. That delay is pain, but it is much unlike the pain of loss suffered by the damned souls, in that they have the joy of knowing that it is only a temporal delay and they are sure of seeing and uniting with love of God. In addition, there is the pain of sense that some call fire. This fire purifies them of their imperfections. This suffering is not a meritorious act because it is not performed freely but with compulsion. Yet, the souls in purgatory gladly accept this fire and impatiently await the end of their trials so that they can be with God.  The duration and intensity of their suffering is dependent on the amount of suffrages we on earth offer for them through our good acts and Eucharistic devotions. It is a duty of Charity to pray for the souls in purgatory, since they are our brothers and sisters. It is a requirement of justice, since souls can be unduly detained because of our negligence, and finally it is obligation of piety that we owe members of our supernatural and natural families who might be in purgatory.

Hell

Truly, many do not understand what hell is, if they did, they would be anxious never to go there. Strictly speaking, the Catholic Church does not talk about those in hell because they are considered to be outside of the Church. They are no longer a part of the Church. The souls of people who die in the state of opposition to God through attachment to evil go straight to hell. Hell is the ratification of the choices they freely made up until the moment of death. Death makes the opposition to God permanent and eternal. In Hell, the separation from the all-loving God is permanent, irrevocable and without end. It is a life of complete frustration and emptiness. Hel is the opposite of love; it is hatred, darkness, and eternal punishment. It is eternally living with evil, and knowing that it is forever, without end. Recalling that we are going to die and that there is an afterlife could help us keep focus

Hell involves two kinds of pains. Pain of loss and pain of sense.

The pain of loss is the most intense and in enormity, surpasses every other suffering imaginable because it is the loss of the ultimate end, happiness, and eternal bliss desired by every creature. The souls in hell experience intense remorse, but not because of repentance from their sin, but because of the enormity and the eternal duration of their punishment .They also experience the pain of the senses, which some consider to be unquenchable fire, burning sulfur. Even if they do not know it, all men are created in the image of God, to live with God forever. Every soul hungers for this union of love and happiness with God. To be eternally deprived of ever achieving this is the most terrible suffering a soul can have, a loss of all meaning and purpose and a permanent state of frightful misery

This pain of sense on the other hand is comparable to dying but never dying, hence the name “eternal death.” Apart from this two pains mentioned above, there are other pains, such as the suffering of being in the eternal company of the wicked and the damned, where all is misery and vile, the permanent company of the devil and all his demons, where hatred and evil is the only rule. We should truly pity those who do evil here on earth.

Heaven

The existence of heaven is explained in the same way that the existence of hell is explained. It is proper and fitting that those who die in the state of grace, without sin, and in union with God, having kept and obeyed his laws in this life be rewarded. That reward is the immediate and eternal possession of God who is love.

The metaphor of heaven as the dwelling place of God in the sky can be misleading, but through faith, we know that heaven is not a place but a living relationship with the Holy Trinity in Christ. Happiness of heaven is the enjoyment of all good, all love and beauty and bliss in God in a permanent eternal way without any fear of loss, forever. This eternal vision of God cannot be unless God grants the soul a light of glory that illuminates and unites with God. This light of glory called lumen Gloriae enables the creature to see and know God. Since love comes from knowledge, this act of seeing and knowing God is immediately followed by an intense love of God that produces immense joy, happiness bliss that nothing in this world can describe.

Thus, the soul participates in all joy and happiness of the blessed. Moreover it is in the blessed company of the saints, Mary and all the blessed. It is also know all creatures through the mind of God. It is able to communicate with his loved ones on earth and rejoices as they progress towards heaven. 

The final judgment

Unlike the particular judgment that comes immediately after death, the final judgment comes at the end of the world. It is the public ratification of the irrevocable sentence of the particular judgment. Moreover, is in keeping with the justice of God that just as many people do good without reward because no one sees them and many people do evil and are never caught, the final judgment will be the universal acclamation of hidden good doers and universal condemnation of hidden evildoers.

It is also the time for the resurrection of the body. The same body that participated or even aided in the good or assisted in the evil done while on earth, will resurrect and re-unit with the soul for the universal judgment of body and soul. The final judgment will show that God’s justice prevails over all the injustices perpetrated by his creatures, and that God’s love is stronger than death. Our hope does not look forward to the eternal life of the soul alone, but to the eternal life of the whole human person, body and soul. There is an eternal life of salvation, as a participation of the entire man in the glorious Resurrection of Jesus Christ. In addition, there is an eternal life of damnation, in which the separation from God becomes eternal.

by Chinwuba Iyizoba





I Had Rathar Die Than Offend God: Story of St. Agnes

1 07 2013

I had rathar Die than offend God, says a little girl

One day, a little girl whose name was Agnes was coming home from school and a boy met her and asked her for sex. He promised, if she consented, to give her valuable jewels. But Agnes at once rejected the temptation, and told him to go away, for she would never consent to offend her God for anything that the world could give her.

The young man was angry. He later discovered that Agnes was a Christian.This was the year 200 when Christians were considered Criminals in Rome. The young man was determined to make Agnes yield to his wishes, or to accuse her to the pagan judge as belonging to that faith, and so she would be put to death.

When he told her what he intended to do, Agnes boldly answered, ” Never will I consent to offend my God by sin, and joyfully will I suffer the loss of all things rather than lose my soul.”

The young man accused her to the judge, and very soon Agnes was summoned before him. He tried first by kind words, and then by threats, to make her yield to him and renounce her faith, but to no effect. The firmness of the child filled him not only with wonder, but also with great wrath, and he handed her over to be executed.

Then Agnes prayed to God, that now since she had confessed His holy Name, and had kept her soul pure in the midst of evil, and since He had shown forth His great power in her, He would be pleased to take her to Himself in Heaven.

When she had finished her prayer the executioner prepared to pierce her neck with a sword, but the man was so overcome with emotion at the sight of one so beautiful and so young, that at first he could not do this ; but receiving a stern command from his superior, he gave her the fatal blow, and her happy soul went at once to her God in Heaven, whom she had so tenderly loved.

Our soul is that pearl which is beyond all price. Like Agnes we should be willing to suffer all rather than stain it by sin, and the only thought of our lives should be to preserve undefiled that priceless treasure. It is sin alone that can kill the soul.





We have the blood of little children on our hands

16 06 2013

forgiveness
The latest video on life by Live Action is out. Some say it is a tough watch so if you have a weak stomach don’t watch. But I like to share a lyric of a song which a woman blogger said made her stop believing in Abortion. Here it goes

Verse 1

She will never see the beauty of a sunrise
Nor pick a flower blowing in the wind
She will never climb up to sit on Daddy‘s knee
Never spend a summer day with her best friend
She will never bake cookies with Mommy
Never know what it’s like to be sixteen
Never spend her love with that special someone
Never have the family of her childhood dreams

Verse 2
He will never celebrate his first birthday
You will never hear him call your name out loud
He will never run across the grassy meadow
Nor will he be the little boy that makes you proud
He will never go fishing with Daddy
Nor have the joy of buying his first car
He will never get to father his own family
Or hear his little boy wish upon a star

Chorus
Day by day and one by one, we’re killing our future
By the thousands every day across the land
Can you tell me what has happened to America?
Is there anyone who dares to take a stand?
We have the blood of little children on our hands

Bridge
But in Heaven God is picking up the pieces
Of the countless treasures we have thrown away
While slowly He’s reshaping and re-molding
Those precious little helpless lumps of clay
So lovingly, He holds them in His hands
Only God knows, just what they could have been.

Here’s the video of the song.. it’s beautiful and the lead singer has a beautiful voice.

Thanks Temi227 for sharing.





Either God is or He is Not? How will you Wager?

27 05 2013

pascal's wager1

Most philosophers think Pascal’s Wager is the weakest of all arguments for believing in the existence of God. Pascal thought it was the strongest. After finishing the argument in his Pensées, he wrote, “This is conclusive, and if men are capable of any truth, this is it.” That is the only time Pascal ever wrote a sentence like that, for he was one of the most sceptical philosophers who ever wrote.

Suppose someone terribly precious to you lay dying, and the doctor offered to try a new “miracle drug” that he could not guarantee but that seemed to have a 50-50 chance of saving your beloved friend’s life. Would it be reasonable to try it, even if it cost a little money? And suppose it were free—wouldn’t it be utterly reasonable to try it and unreasonable not to?

Suppose you hear reports that your house is on fire and your children are inside. You do not know whether the reports are true or false. What is the reasonable thing to do—to ignore them or to take the time to run home or at least phone home just in case the reports are true?

Suppose a winning sweepstakes ticket is worth a million dollars, and there are only two tickets left. You know that one of them is the winning ticket, while the other is worth nothing, and you are allowed to buy only one of the two tickets, at random. Would it be a good investment to spend a dollar on the good chance of winning a million?

No reasonable person can be or ever is in doubt in such cases. But deciding whether to believe in God is a case like these, argues Pascal. It is therefore the height of folly not to “bet” on God, even if you have no certainty, no proof, no guarantee that your bet will win.

Atheism is a terrible bet. It gives you no chance of winning the prize.

To understand Pascal’s Wager you have to understand the background of the argument. Pascal lived in a time of great scepticism. Medieval philosophy was dead, and medieval theology was being ignored or sneered at by the new intellectuals of the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century. Montaigne, the great sceptical essayist, was the most popular writer of the day. The classic arguments for the existence of God were no longer popularly believed. What could the Christian apologist say to the sceptical mind of this age? Suppose such a typical mind lacked both the gift of faith and the confidence in reason to prove God’s existence; could there be a third ladder out of the pit of unbelief into the light of belief?

Pascal’s Wager claims to be that third ladder. Pascal well knew that it was a low ladder. If you believe in God only as a bet, that is certainly not a deep, mature, or adequate faith. But it is something, it is a start, it is enough to dam the tide of atheism. The Wager appeals not to a high ideal, like faith, hope, love, or proof, but to a low one: the instinct for self-preservation, the desire to be happy and not unhappy. But on that low natural level, it has tremendous force. Thus Pascal prefaces his argument with the words, “Let us now speak according to our natural lights.”

Imagine you are playing a game for two prizes. You wager blue chips to win blue prizes and red chips to win red prizes. The blue chips are your mind, your reason, and the blue prize is the truth about God’s existence. The red chips are your will, your desires, and the red prize is heavenly happiness. Everyone wants both prizes, truth and happiness. Now suppose there is no way of calculating how to play the blue chips. Suppose your reason cannot win you the truth. In that case, you can still calculate how to play the red chips. Believe in God not because your reason can prove with certainty that it is true that God exists but because your will seeks happiness, and God is your only chance of attaining happiness eternally.

Pascal says, “Either God is, or he is not. But to which view shall we be inclined? Reason cannot decide this question. [Remember that Pascal’s Wager is an argument for sceptics.] Infinite chaos separates us. At the far end of this infinite distance [death] a coin is being spun that will come down heads [God] or tails [no God]. How will you wager?”

We are like ships
that need to get home.

The most powerful part of Pascal’s argument comes next. It is not his refutation of atheism as a foolish wager (that comes last) but his refutation of agnosticism as impossible. Agnosticism, not-knowing, maintaining a sceptical, uncommitted attitude, seems to be the most reasonable option. The agnostic says, “The right thing is not to wager at all.” Pascal replies, “But you must wager. There is no choice. You are already committed [embarked].” We are not outside observers of life, but participants. We are like ships that need to get home, sailing past a port that has signs on it proclaiming that it is our true home and our true happiness. The ships are our own lives and the signs on the port say “God”. The agnostic says he will neither put in at that port (believe) nor turn away from it (disbelieve) but stay anchored a reasonable distance away until the weather clears and he can see better whether this is the true port or a fake (for there are a lot of fakes around). Why is this attitude unreasonable, even impossible? Because we are moving. The ship of life is moving along the waters of time, and there comes a point of no return, when our fuel runs out, when it is too late. The Wager works because of the fact of death.

Suppose Romeo proposes to Juliet and Juliet says, “Give me some time to make up my mind.” Suppose Romeo keeps coming back day after day, and Juliet keeps saying the same thing day after day: “Perhaps tomorrow.” In the words of a small, female, red-haired American philosopher, “Tomorrow is always a day away. And there comes a time when there are no more tomorrows. Then “maybe” becomes “no”. Romeo will die. Corpses do not marry. Christianity is God’s marriage proposal to the soul. Saying “maybe” and “perhaps tomorrow” cannot continue indefinitely because life does not continue indefinitely. The weather will never clear enough for the agnostic navigator to be sure whether the port is true home or false just by looking at it through binoculars from a distance. He has to take a chance, on this port or some other, or he will never get home.

Once it is decided that we must wager; once it is decided that there are only two options, theism and atheism, not three, theism, atheism, and agnosticism; then the rest of the argument is simple. Atheism is a terrible bet. It gives you no chance of winning the red prize. Pascal states the argument this way:

You have two things to lose: the true and the good; and two things to stake: your reason and your will, your knowledge and your happiness; and your nature has two things to avoid: error and wretchedness. Since you must necessarily choose, your reason is no more affronted by choosing one rather than the other. That is one point cleared up. But your happiness? Let us weigh up the gain and the loss involved in calling heads that God exists. Let us assess the two cases: if you win, you win everything: if you lose, you lose nothing. Do not hesitate then: wager that he does exist.

If God does not exist, it does not matter how you wager, for there is nothing to win after death and nothing to lose after death. But if God does exist, your only chance of winning eternal happiness is to believe, and your only chance of losing it is to refuse to believe. As Pascal says, “I should be much more afraid of being mistaken and then finding out that Christianity is true than of being mistaken in believing it to be true.” If you believe too much, you neither win nor lose eternal happiness. But if you believe too little, you risk losing everything.

But is it worth the price? What must be given up to wager that God exists? Whatever it is, it is only finite, and it is most reasonable to wager something finite on the chance of winning an infinite prize. Perhaps you must give up autonomy or illicit pleasures, but you will gain infinite happiness in eternity, and “I tell you that you will gain even in this life “—purpose, peace, hope, joy, the things that put smiles on the lips of martyrs.

Christianity is God’s marriage proposal to the soul.

Lest we take this argument with less seriousness than Pascal meant it, he concludes: “If my words please you and seem cogent, you must know that they come from a man who went down upon his knees before and after.”

To the high-minded objector who refuses to believe for the low motive of saving the eternal skin of his own soul, we may reply that the Wager works quite as well if we change the motive. Let us say we want to give God his due if there is a God. Now if there is a God, justice demands total faith, hope, love, obedience, and worship. If there is a God and we refuse to give him these things, we sin maximally against the truth. But the only chance of doing infinite justice is if God exists and we believe, while the only chance of doing infinite injustice is if God exists and we do not believe. If God does not exist, there is no one there to do infinite justice or infinite injustice to. So the motive of doing justice moves the Wager just as well as the motive of seeking happiness. Pascal used the more selfish motive because we all have that all the time, while only some are motivated by justice, and only some of the time.

Because the whole argument moves on the practical rather than the theoretical level, it is fitting that Pascal next imagines the listener offering the practical objection that he just cannot bring himself to believe. Pascal then answers the objection with stunningly practical psychology, with the suggestion that the prospective convert “act into” his belief if he cannot yet “act out” of it.

If you are unable to believe, it is because of your passions since reason impels you to believe and yet you cannot do so. Concentrate then not on convincing yourself by multiplying proofs of God’s existence but by diminishing your passions. You want to find faith, and you do not know the road. You want to be cured of unbelief, and you ask for the remedy: learn from those who were once bound like you and who now wager all they have. . . . They behaved just as if they did believe.

This is the same advice Dostoevsky’s guru, Father Zossima, gives to the “woman of little faith” in The Brothers Karamazov. The behavior Pascal mentions is “taking holy water, having Masses said, and so on”. The behavior Father Zossima counsels to the same end is “active and indefatigable love of your neighbor.” In both cases, living the Faith can be a way of getting the Faith. As Pascal says: “That will make you believe quite naturally and will make you more docile.” “But that is what I am afraid of.” ”But why? What have you to lose?”

An atheist visited the great rabbi and philosopher Martin Buber and demanded that Buber prove the existence of God to him. Buber refused, and the atheist got up to leave in anger. As he left, Buber called after him, “But can you be sure there is no God?” That atheist wrote, forty years later, “I am still an atheist. But Buber’s question has haunted me every day of my life.” The Wager has just that haunting power.

Peter Kreeftpaswag3








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