Today’s Catechism sections discuss the resurrection of the dead and rising to new life with Christ. Supporting material comes from St. Irenaeus’ “Against Heresies”.

How do the dead rise?

997 What is "rising"? In death, the separation of the soul from the body, the human body decays and the soul goes to meet God, while awaiting its reunion with its glorified body. God, in his almighty power, will definitively grant incorruptible life to our bodies by reuniting them with our souls, through the power of Jesus' Resurrection.

998 Who will rise? All the dead will rise, "those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment."550

999 How? Christ is raised with his own body: "See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself";551 but he did not return to an earthly life. So, in him, "all of them will rise again with their own bodies which they now bear," but Christ "will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body," into a "spiritual body":552

But someone will ask, "How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?" You foolish man! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body which is to be, but a bare kernel ....What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable.... the dead will be raised imperishable.... For this perishable nature must put on the imperishable, and this mortal nature must put on immortality.553

1000 This "how" exceeds our imagination and understanding; it is accessible only to faith. Yet our participation in the Eucharist already gives us a foretaste of Christ's transfiguration of our bodies:

Just as bread that comes from the earth, after God's blessing has been invoked upon it, is no longer ordinary bread, but Eucharist, formed of two things, the one earthly and the other heavenly: so too our bodies, which partake of the Eucharist, are no longer corruptible, but possess the hope of resurrection.554

1001 When? Definitively "at the last day," "at the end of the world."555 Indeed, the resurrection of the dead is closely associated with Christ's Parousia:

For the Lord himself will descend from heaven, with a cry of command, with the archangel's call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.556

Risen with Christ

1002 Christ will raise us up "on the last day"; but it is also true that, in a certain way, we have already risen with Christ. For, by virtue of the Holy Spirit, Christian life is already now on earth a participation in the death and Resurrection of Christ:

And you were buried with him in Baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead .... If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.557

1003 United with Christ by Baptism, believers already truly participate in the heavenly life of the risen Christ, but this life remains "hidden with Christ in God."558 The Father has already "raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus."559 Nourished with his body in the Eucharist, we already belong to the Body of Christ. When we rise on the last day we "also will appear with him in glory."560

1004 In expectation of that day, the believer's body and soul already participate in the dignity of belonging to Christ. This dignity entails the demand that he should treat with respect his own body, but also the body of every other person, especially the suffering:

The body [is meant] for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? .... You are not your own; .... So glorify God in your body.561

IN BRIEF

1015 "The flesh is the hinge of salvation" (Tertullian, De res. 8, 2: PL 2, 852). We believe in God who is creator of the flesh; we believe in the Word made flesh in order to redeem the flesh; we believe in the resurrection of the flesh, the fulfillment of both the creation and the redemption of the flesh.

1016 By death the soul is separated from the body, but in the resurrection God will give incorruptible life to our body, transformed by reunion with our soul. Just as Christ is risen and lives forever, so all of us will rise at the last day.

St. Irenaeus discusses the resurrection in “Against Heresies” (4,18,5).

5. Then, again, how can they say that the flesh, which is nourished with the body of the Lord and with His blood, goes to corruption, and does not partake of life? Let them, therefore, either alter their opinion, or cease from offering the things just mentioned. But our opinion is in accordance with the Eucharist, and the Eucharist in turn establishes our opinion. For we offer to Him His own, announcing consistently the fellowship and union of the flesh and Spirit. For as the bread, which is produced from the earth, when it receives the invocation of God, is no longer common bread, but the Eucharist, consisting of two realities, earthly and heavenly; so also our bodies, when they receive the Eucharist, are no longer corruptible, having the hope of the resurrection to eternity.

Footnotes

550 ⇒ Jn 5:29; cf. ⇒ Dan 12:2.
551 ⇒ Lk 24:39.
552 Lateran Council IV (1215): DS 801; ⇒ Phil 3:21; 2 Cor 15:44.
553 ⇒ 1 Cor 15:35-37, ⇒ 42, ⇒ 52, ⇒ 53.
554 St. Irenaeus, Adv. haeres. 4, 18, 4-5: PG 7/1, 1028-1029.
555 ⇒ Jn 6: 39-40, ⇒ 44, ⇒ 54; ⇒ 11:24; LG 48 # 3.
556 ⇒ 1 Thess 4:16.
557 ⇒ Col 2:12; ⇒ 3:1.
558 ⇒ Col 3:3; cf. ⇒ Phil 3:20.
559 ⇒ Eph 2:6.
560 ⇒ Col 3:4.
561 ⇒ 1 Cor 6:13-15, ⇒ 19-20.