Today’s Catechism sections discuss the reality of human death. Supporting material comes from the Pastoral Constitution, “Gaudium et Spes”.

II. Dying in Christ Jesus

1005 To rise with Christ, we must die with Christ: we must "be away from the body and at home with the Lord."562 In that "departure" which is death the soul is separated from the body.563 It will be reunited with the body on the day of resurrection of the dead.564

Death

1006 "It is in regard to death that man's condition is most shrouded in doubt."565 In a sense bodily death is natural, but for faith it is in fact "the wages of sin."566 For those who die in Christ's grace it is a participation in the death of the Lord, so that they can also share his Resurrection.567

1007 Death is the end of earthly life. Our lives are measured by time, in the course of which we change, grow old and, as with all living beings on earth, death seems like the normal end of life. That aspect of death lends urgency to our lives: remembering our mortality helps us realize that we have only a limited time in which to bring our lives to fulfillment:

Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, . . . before the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.568

1008 Death is a consequence of sin. The Church's Magisterium, as authentic interpreter of the affirmations of Scripture and Tradition, teaches that death entered the world on account of man's sin.569 Even though man's nature is mortal God had destined him not to die. Death was therefore contrary to the plans of God the Creator and entered the world as a consequence of sin.570 "Bodily death, from which man would have been immune had he not sinned" is thus "the last enemy" of man left to be conquered.571

1009 Death is transformed by Christ. Jesus, the Son of God, also himself suffered the death that is part of the human condition. Yet, despite his anguish as he faced death, he accepted it in an act of complete and free submission to his Father's will.572 The obedience of Jesus has transformed the curse of death into a blessing.573

IN BRIEF

1017 "We believe in the true resurrection of this flesh that we now possess" (Council of Lyons II: DS 854). We sow a corruptible body in the tomb, but he raises up an incorruptible body, a "spiritual body" (cf ⇒ 1 Cor 15:42-44).

1018 As a consequence of original sin, man must suffer "bodily death, from which man would have been immune had he not sinned" (GS # 18).

1019 Jesus, the Son of God, freely suffered death for us in complete and free submission to the will of God, his Father. By his death he has conquered death, and so opened the possibility of salvation to all men.

The Pastoral Constitution, “Gaudium et Spes” (18) discusses the reality of death.

18. It is in the face of death that the riddle a human existence grows most acute. Not only is man tormented by pain and by the advancing deterioration of his body, but even more so by a dread of perpetual extinction. He rightly follows the intuition of his heart when he abhors and repudiates the utter ruin and total disappearance of his own person. He rebels against death because he bears in himself an eternal seed which cannot be reduced to sheer matter. All the endeavors of technology, though useful in the extreme, cannot calm his anxiety; for prolongation of biological life is unable to satisfy that desire for higher life which is inescapably lodged in his breast.

Although the mystery of death utterly beggars the imagination, the Church has been taught by divine revelation and firmly teaches that man has been created by God for a blissful purpose beyond the reach of earthly misery. In addition, that bodily death from which man would have been immune had he not sinned(14) will be vanquished, according to the Christian faith, when man who was ruined by his own doing is restored to wholeness by an almighty and merciful Saviour. For God has called man and still calls him so that with his entire being he might be joined to Him in an endless sharing of a divine life beyond all corruption. Christ won this victory when He rose to life, for by His death He freed man from death. Hence to every thoughtful man a solidly established faith provides the answer to his anxiety about what the future holds for him. At the same time faith gives him the power to be united in Christ with his loved ones who have already been snatched away by death; faith arouses the hope that they have found true life with God.

Footnotes

562 ⇒ 2 Cor 5:8.
563 Cf. ⇒ Phil 1:23.
564 Cf. Paul VI, CPG # 28.
565 GS 18.
566 ⇒ Rom 6:23; cf. ⇒ Gen 2:17.
567 Cf. ⇒ Rom 6:3-9; ⇒ Phil 3:10-11.
568 ⇒ Eccl 12:1, 7.
569 Cf. ⇒ Gen 2:17; ⇒ 3:3; ⇒ 3:19; ⇒ Wis 1:13; ⇒ Rom 5:12; ⇒ 6:23; DS 1511.
570 Cf. ⇒ Wis 2:23-24.
571 GS 18 # 2; cf. ⇒ 1 Cor 15:26.
572 Cf. ⇒ Mk 14:33-34; ⇒ Heb 5:7-8.
573 Cf. ⇒ Rom 5:19-21.