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William Pasco wrote:

HI, guys —

I'm asking a question about a specific phrase.

Jesus will return to judge the living and the dead.

To me, this means that all who have died for all time, are just dead or in some limbo.

That would mean there is no one in Heaven or Hell, until Jesus comes again and judges mankind. This would mean that when a person dies and people say:

"They are in Heaven now with Jesus."

what they are saying is not true.

  • So why do we have Masses for the dead and pray for those who have died when, until the Second Coming of Jesus, they are just dead?

It takes away the comfort of those who believe they are in Heaven with Jesus.


  { Why do we pray and have Masses for the "dead" when, until the Second Coming, they are "dead"? }

Bob replied:

Dear William,

Thanks for the question.

The confusion may be cleared up by defining the terms living and dead.

  • By living we mean those who still draw breath and have not suffered physical death — they are alive in both body and spirit.
  • By dead we mean those who have suffered physical death; their bodies have been separated from their spirit.

At the return of Christ, judgment will be meted out for all persons, whether in a living body or separated from their body by physical death.

After physical death, the soul does not cease to exist but continues forever; for this is part of the nature of the soul which is made in God's image. After death, it undergoes a private judgment wherein it's destiny is ratified: Some are rewarded with Eternal Life with the Lord (though, for many, purgation is still required), and others are eternally separated from God, as they have rejected God's Grace.

In the final public judgment, the deceased of the Lord regarding the salvation of all, will be made known in a most conspicuous way, ratifying what was already determined in the private judgment.

Think of it like a judge making a declaration of innocent versus guilty in a courtroom, but later holding a press conference to explain the results. It is a rough analogy, but so it goes with things that transcend our imagination.

Lastly, don't be deceived into thinking souls aren't on one of these two paths after death.

They are. Some souls, albeit not yet rejoined to their bodies (which wait the Resurrection), are in Heaven, others are on their way to Heaven through a purgative process in Purgatory, and still others are in Hell: that state of separation from God, which is real and permanent.


Bob Kirby

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