Today’s Catechism sections discuss the particular judgment and Heaven. Supporting material comes from St. Thomas Aquinas’ “Summa Theologica”.

Article 12

"I BELIEVE IN LIFE EVERLASTING"

1020 The Christian who unites his own death to that of Jesus views it as a step towards him and an entrance into everlasting life. When the Church for the last time speaks Christ's words of pardon and absolution over the dying Christian, seals him for the last time with a strengthening anointing, and gives him Christ in viaticum as nourishment for the journey, she speaks with gentle assurance:

Go forth, Christian soul, from this world
in the name of God the almighty Father,
who created you,
in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God,
who suffered for you,
in the name of the Holy Spirit,
who was poured out upon you.
Go forth, faithful Christian!
May you live in peace this day,
may your home be with God in Zion,
with Mary, the virgin Mother of God,
with Joseph, and all the angels and saints....
May you return to [your Creator]
who formed you from the dust of the earth.
May holy Mary, the angels, and all the saints
come to meet you as you go forth from this life....
May you see your Redeemer face to face. 589

I. The Particular Judgment

1021 Death puts an end to human life as the time open to either accepting or rejecting the divine grace manifested in Christ.590 The New Testament speaks of judgment primarily in its aspect of the final encounter with Christ in his second coming, but also repeatedly affirms that each will be rewarded immediately after death in accordance with his works and faith. The parable of the poor man Lazarus and the words of Christ on the cross to the good thief, as well as other New Testament texts speak of a final destiny of the soul -a destiny which can be different for some and for others.591

1022 Each man receives his eternal retribution in his immortal soul at the very moment of his death, in a particular judgment that refers his life to Christ: either entrance into the blessedness of heaven-through a purification592 or immediately,593-or immediate and everlasting damnation.594

At the evening of life, we shall be judged on our love.595

II. Heaven

1023 Those who die in God's grace and friendship and are perfectly purified live for ever with Christ. They are like God for ever, for they "see him as he is," face to face:596

By virtue of our apostolic authority, we define the following: According to the general disposition of God, the souls of all the saints . . . and other faithful who died after receiving Christ's holy Baptism (provided they were not in need of purification when they died, . . . or, if they then did need or will need some purification, when they have been purified after death, . . .) already before they take up their bodies again and before the general judgment - and this since the Ascension of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ into heaven - have been, are and will be in heaven, in the heavenly Kingdom and celestial paradise with Christ, joined to the company of the holy angels. Since the Passion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ, these souls have seen and do see the divine essence with an intuitive vision, and even face to face, without the mediation of any creature.597

1024 This perfect life with the Most Holy Trinity - this communion of life and love with the Trinity, with the Virgin Mary, the angels and all the blessed - is called "heaven." Heaven is the ultimate end and fulfillment of the deepest human longings, the state of supreme, definitive happiness.

1025 To live in heaven is "to be with Christ." the elect live "in Christ,"598 but they retain, or rather find, their true identity, their own name.599

For life is to be with Christ; where Christ is, there is life, there is the kingdom.600

1026 By his death and Resurrection, Jesus Christ has "opened" heaven to us. The life of the blessed consists in the full and perfect possession of the fruits of the redemption accomplished by Christ. He makes partners in his heavenly glorification those who have believed in him and remained faithful to his will. Heaven is the blessed community of all who are perfectly incorporated into Christ.

1027 This mystery of blessed communion with God and all who are in Christ is beyond all understanding and description. Scripture speaks of it in images: life, light, peace, wedding feast, wine of the kingdom, the Father's house, the heavenly Jerusalem, paradise: "no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him."601

1028 Because of his transcendence, God cannot be seen as he is, unless he himself opens up his mystery to man's immediate contemplation and gives him the capacity for it. The Church calls this contemplation of God in his heavenly glory "the beatific vision":

How great will your glory and happiness be, to be allowed to see God, to be honored with sharing the joy of salvation and eternal light with Christ your Lord and God, . . . to delight in the joy of immortality in the Kingdom of heaven with the righteous and God's friends.602

1029 In the glory of heaven the blessed continue joyfully to fulfill God's will in relation to other men and to all creation. Already they reign with Christ; with him "they shall reign for ever and ever."603

IN BRIEF

1051 Every man receives his eternal recompense in his immortal soul from the moment of his death in a particular judgment by Christ, the judge of the living and the dead.

1052 "We believe that the souls of all who die in Christ's grace . . . are the People of God beyond death. On the day of resurrection, death will be definitively conquered, when these souls will be reunited with their bodies" (Paul VI, CPG # 28).

1053 "We believe that the multitude of those gathered around Jesus and Mary in Paradise forms the Church of heaven, where in eternal blessedness they see God as he is and where they are also, to various degrees, associated with the holy angels in the divine governance exercised by Christ in glory, by interceding for us and helping our weakness by their fraternal concern" (Paul VI, CPG # 29).

St. Thomas Aquinas’ “Summa Theologica” (Supplement, 69) discusses the existence of Heaven:

Article 1. Whether places are appointed to receive souls after death?

Objection 1. It would seem that places are not appointed to receive souls after death. For as Boethius says (De Hebdom.): "Wise men are agreed that incorporeal things are not in a place," and this agrees with the words of Augustine (Gen. ad lit. xii, 32): "We can answer without hesitation that the soul is not conveyed to corporeal places, except with a body, or that it is not conveyed locally." Now the soul separated from the body is without a body, as Augustine also says (Gen. ad lit. xii, 32). Therefore it is absurd to assign any places for the reception of souls.

Objection 2. Further, whatever has a definite place has more in common with that place than with any other. Now separated souls, like certain other spiritual substances, are indifferent to all places; for it cannot be said that they agree with certain bodies, and differ from others, since they are utterly removed from all corporeal conditions. Therefore places should not be assigned for their reception.

Objection 3. Further, nothing is assigned to separated souls after death, except what conduces to their punishment or to their reward. But a corporeal place cannot conduce to their punishment or reward, since they receive nothing from bodies. Therefore definite places should not be assigned to receive them.

On the contrary, The empyrean heaven is a corporeal place, and yet as soon as it was made it was filled with the holy angels, as Bede [Hexaem. i, ad Gn. 1:2] says. Since then angels even as separated souls are incorporeal, it would seem that some place should also be assigned to receive separated souls.

Further, this appears from Gregory's statement (Dial. iv) that souls after death are conveyed to various corporeal places, as in the case of Paschasius whom Germanus, Bishop of Capua, found at the baths, and of the soul of King Theodoric, which he asserts to have been conveyed to hell. Therefore after death souls have certain places for their reception.

I answer that, Although spiritual substances do not depend on a body in respect of their being, nevertheless the corporeal world is governed by God by means of the spiritual world, as asserted by Augustine (De Trin. iii, 4) and Gregory (Dial. iv, 6). Hence it is that there is a certain fittingness by way of congruity of spiritual substances to corporeal substances, in that the more noble bodies are adapted to the more noble substances: wherefore also the philosophers held that the order of separate substances is according to the order of movables. And though after death souls have no bodies assigned to them whereof they be the forms or determinate motors, nevertheless certain corporeal places are appointed to them by way of congruity in reference to their degree of nobility (wherein they are as though in a place, after the manner in which incorporeal things can be in a place), according as they more or less approach to the first substance (to which the highest place it fittingly assigned), namely God, whose throne the Scriptures proclaim heaven to be (Psalm 102:19, Isaiah 66:1). Wherefore we hold that those souls that have a perfect share of the Godhead are in heaven, and that those souls that are deprived of that share are assigned to a contrary place.

Reply to Objection 1. Incorporeal things are not in place after a manner known and familiar to us, in which way we say that bodies are properly in place; but they are in place after a manner befitting spiritual substances, a manner that cannot be fully manifest to us.

Reply to Objection 2. Things have something in common with or a likeness to one another in two ways. First, by sharing a same quality: thus hot things have something in common, and incorporeal things can have nothing in common with corporeal things in this way. Secondly, by a kind of proportionateness, by reason of which the Scriptures apply the corporeal world to the spiritual metaphorically. Thus the Scriptures speak of God as the sun, because He is the principle of spiritual life, as the sun is of corporeal life. In this way certain souls have more in common with certain places: for instance, souls that are spiritually enlightened, with luminous bodies, and souls that are plunged in darkness by sin, with dark places.

Reply to Objection 3. The separated soul receives nothing directly from corporeal places in the same way as bodies which are maintained by their respective places: yet these same souls, through knowing themselves to be appointed to such places, gather joy or sorrow therefrom; and thus their place conduces to their punishment or reward.

Footnotes

589 OCF, Prayer of Commendation.
590 Cf. ⇒ 2 Tim 1:9-10.
591 Cf. ⇒ Lk 16:22; ⇒ 23:43; ⇒ Mt 16:26; ⇒ 2 Cor 5:8; ⇒ Phil 1:23; ⇒ Heb 9:27; ⇒ 12:23.
592 Cf. Council of Lyons II (1274): DS 857-858; Council of Florence (1439): DS 1304- 1306; Council of Trent (1563): DS 1820.
593 Cf. Benedict XII, Benedictus Deus (1336): DS 1000-1001; John XXII, Ne super his (1334): DS 990.
594 Cf. Benedict XII, Benedictus Deus (1336): DS 1002.
595 St. John of the Cross, Dichos 64.
596 ⇒ 1 Jn 3:2; cf. ⇒ 1 Cor 13:12; ⇒ Rev 22:4.
597 Benedict XII, Benedictus Deus (1336): DS 1000; cf. LG 49.
598 ⇒ Phil 1:23; cf. ⇒ Jn 14:3; ⇒ 1 Thess 4:17.
599 Cf. ⇒ Rev 2:17.
600 St. Ambrose, In Luc., 10, 121: PL 15, 1834A.
601 ⇒ 1 Cor 2:9.
602 St. Cyprian, Ep. 58, 10, 1: CSEL 3/2, 665.
603 ⇒ Rev 22:5; cf. ⇒ Mt 25:21, ⇒ 23.