The Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma
- Book 5: God the Consumator
- Section 1: The Doctrine of the Last Things
- Chapter 1: The Eschatology of the Individual Human Being
- The Particular Judgment
- Immediately after death the particular judgment takes place, in which, by a Divine
Sentence of Judgment, the eternal fate of the deceased person is decided. (Sent. fidei proxima.)
- Opposed to the teaching of the Catholic Church is chiliadism (millenarism) which,
invoking Apoc. 20:1 et seq., and Old Testament prophecies about the coming Empire of the Messias,
foretold a long dominion of a thousand years for Christ and the Just on earth before the general
Resurrection, and asserted accordingly, that only then will the final beatification take place.
This view was expounded by many of the older Fathers (Papias, St. Justin, St. Irenaeus, Tertullian
- The Church’s teaching is also opposed to the view of various ancient and modern
sects which hold that souls after their separation from the bodies are, until the final re-unification
with the body, in an unconscious or semi-conscious condition, the so-called soul-sleep (hypnopsychites),
or that they formally die (death-sleep) and are re-awakened with the body (thnetopsychites).
Cf. D 1913 (Rosmini).
- The doctrine that there is a particular judgment for each soul immediately after
death is not defined but is presupposed by the dogma that departed souls go forthwith (immediately)
after death into Heaven or into hell or into purgatory. The Union Councils of Lyons and of Florence
declared that the souls of the just, free from all sin and punishment, are immediately assumed into
Heaven, and that the souls of those who die in mortal sin or merely in venial sin descend immediately
into hell. D 464, 693. Pope Benedict XII, in the dogmatic constitution “Benedictus Deus” (1336),
teaches that the completely pure souls of the Just immediately after death, or after their purification
enter heaven, become partakers in the immediate vision of the Divine Essence, and are truly blessed,
while the souls of those in mortal sin immediately enter hell and are subject to the torments of hell.
- Holy Writ indirectly implies the existence of the particular judgment by teaching
that the departed souls immediately after death receive their reward or punishment.
Cf. Ecclus 1:13; 11:28 et seq. Lazarus is immediately after death taken into the bosom of Abraham
(= limbus Patrum) and the rich reveller is immediately consigned to hell, for punishment
(Luke 16:22 et seq.). The dying Redeemer says to the penitent thief: “This day thou shalt
be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). Judas arrived “at his own place” (Acts 1:25). Death
is for St. Paul the gate to blessedness and to be with Christ. Phil. 1:23: “I desire to be
dissolved and to be with Christ.” “With the Lord” in his true home (2 Cor. 5:8). With death
the state of faith ceases and the state of vision commences (2 Cor. 5:7; 1 Cor. 13:12).