|FRA ANGELICO PICTURES THE SAINTS AND MARTYRS|
Sacred Scripture, Christ's Church and Tradition provide the answer.
|THE BLESSED VIRGIN HOLDING THE DIVINE CHILD|
WHO IS ADORED BY THE HOLY ANGELS
From Sacred Scripture directly, we know that the Good Thief crucified beside Our Lord is in Heaven, for we have Jesus' own assurance to him :
"...to-day you will be with Me in Paradise." Luke 23:43
We know that after Death we will face the Judgement Seat of Christ,but Tradition has it that our Judgement will be effected in two modes:
The Particular Judgement
The particular Judgement at Death, and the General Judgement at the Second Coming of Our Lord at the end of the world.In regard to the former, the Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us:
" 1021 Death puts an end to human life as the time open to either accepting or rejecting the divine grace manifested in Christ.592 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.593
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 purification594 or immediately,595 -- or immediate and everlasting damnation.596
- At the evening of life, we shall be judged on our love.597"
593 Cf. Luke 16:22, Matt. 16:26, 2 Cor. 5:8, Phil. 1:23, Heb. 9:27,12:23
594 Cf. Council of Lyons II (1274): DS 857-858; Council of Florence (1439: DS 1304-1306; Council of Trent(1563) :DS 1820.
595 Cf. Benedict XII , Benedictus Deus (1336) :DS 1000-1001; John XXII, Ne super his (134) :DS 990
596 Cf. Benedict XII ,Benedictus Deus (1336) :DS 1002
597 St.John of the Cross,Dichos 64
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:598
- 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.599
- 598 1 Jn. 3 : 2; cf. 1 Cor. 13 : 12; Rev. 22:4
- 599 Benedict XII , Benedictus Deus (1336) : DS 1000; Cf. LG 49
- The General Judgement
|MICHELANGELO'S " LAST JUDGEMENT"|
The General Judgement will occur at the Second Coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ at the end of the world.
"29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken;30 then will appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory;31 and he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." Matt.24 : 29-30
The Catechism of the Catholic Church rounds out the teaching of the Church on this subject:
"1038 The resurrection of all the dead, "of both the just and the unjust,"623 will precede the Last Judgment. This will be "the hour when all who are in the tombs will hear [the Son of man's] voice and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment."624 Then Christ will come "in his glory, and all the angels with him. . . . Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. . . . And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."625
1039 In the presence of Christ, who is Truth itself, the truth of each man's relationship with God will be laid bare.626 The Last Judgment will reveal even to its furthest consequences the good each person has done or failed to do during his earthly life:
- All that the wicked do is recorded, and they do not know. When "our God comes, he does not keep silence.". . . he will turn towards those at his left hand: . . . "I placed my poor little ones on earth for you. I as their head was seated in heaven at the right hand of my Father - but on earth my members were suffering, my members on earth were in need. If you gave anything to my members, what you gave would reach their Head. Would that you had known that my little ones were in need when I placed them on earth for you and appointed them your stewards to bring your good works into my treasury. But you have placed nothing in their hands; therefore you have found nothing in my presence."627
623 Acts 24:15
624 Jn. 5 : 28-29
625 Mt. 25: 31,32,46.
626 Cf. Jn. 12:49
627 St.Augustine Sermo 18, 4: PL 38, 130-131; cf. Ps. 50 :3.
|CHRIST IN MAJESTY -Fra Angelico|
We have already nominated two non-Angelic individuals in Heaven. We can now take up the issue once again. The obvious further individuals enjoying Eternity with God in Heaven are the Saints recognised by the Catholic Church, many of whom we know so well , and whose intercession we rely upon so often.
And beyond that, we have the countless number of those not known to us who have been found worthy by God to pass from Judgement into Heaven on account of the virtue of their lives. They are truly Saints but unknown to us and celebrated by the Church on All Saints Day.
We should not leave this subject without considering the Holy Souls , those who have been judged worthy of eventual entry into Heaven but have as yet to be purified of the stain of such sins as they had committed. This has been the teaching of the Church from the very beginning . The Church has given the name Purgatory to the place or state where these souls are detained during their purgation or purification prior to their entry into Heaven.It is indeed even older than the Church for in the Book of Maccabees in the Old Testament we have the statement : " Therefore [Judas Maccabeus] made atonement for the dead that they might be delivered from their sin."( 2 Macc. 12 : 46) As the Council of Lyons II ( 1274): DS 856 stated : " From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God." And as the Catechism reminds us " the Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead...."(# 1032)