November 2000, Volume 6, Issue 4

Catholic Corner


Has there been a change in the Church's teaching about life immediately after death and before the final resurrection? Some of the prayers in the new Rite of Funerals seem to give the image of the deceased sleeping in the grave until awakened to glory.


The Church affirms that a spiritual element survives and subsists after death, an element endowed with consciousness and will, so that the 'human self' subsists. To designate this element, the Church uses the word 'soul', the accepted term in the usage of Scripture and Tradition.

The instruction goes on to affirm the Catholic Church's belief in a future resurrection that is "distinct and deferred with respect to the situation of people immediately after death."

Thus, there will be a marvelous moment in the unfolding of history when "the whole person" will share in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Until then, the soul lives on, awaiting the time of fulfillment.

- From Pastoral Answers to Questions about the Faith by Fr. John Patrick Bertolucci