ELEISON COMMENTS DCCCXXII (15th April, 2023) : RESURRECTION REFLECTIONS
“The Resurrection,” says modern man, “oh yes, it’s a lovely idea, it gives comfort to weak souls to think that there may be something after death, especially something nice, like some kind of heaven, but of course it’s not true. Once people die, they don’t come back to life, science knows that that just doesn’t happen. Death is the end. We need to stop dreaming. We need to get on with our lives on earth and live them to the full, for as long as we can, and accept that we will all die, and that’s it. It’s over. Nothing.”
That is how many a man would like to think, because of course it gives him permission, so to speak, to live life just as he likes, without having to worry about anything after death. He need not care about the Ten Commandments, or God, or Heaven or Hell, or eternity or anything like that. He believes in Science, Science says that all that religious twaddle cannot be proved, it is just pious nonsense. Unfortunately for such a man, it is not he who created himself in his mother’s womb, it is not he who built the framework of life on earth into which he was born, it is not he who set the conditions on which he lives and dies. “Know ye that the Lord, He is God: He made us and not we ourselves. We are His people and the sheep of His pasture” (Ps. IC, 3). (As for “Science”, it cannot make an ant live, let alone a human being.)
And a large part of the conditions on which we live is that we are composed of body and soul, and death consists in the two being separated. Then the body normally decomposes and rots, as we can observe, but, whether we like it or not, the soul lives on because it is immortal, pure spirit, with no material parts to fall apart and decompose. At that moment of death the soul comes before the divine Judge, as neither we nor Science can observe, but as is certain in many places of the Word of God (e.g. Mt. XXV, 46; Jn.V, 29). If the soul goes to Heaven, it rises for eternal life; if it goes to Purgatory, it rises for purgation of remaining sins until it is fit for Heaven; if it goes to Hell, it rises from death to fall into eternal live punishment. In any case the soul by itself lives on without its body until that body rejoins it at world’s end, for eternity.
“Well,” says our modern friend, “if those are the conditions on which I find myself here, I do not accept them ! When I was conceived in my mother’s womb, I was not consulted as to whether or not I wanted to be born, and if I had been consulted, I would have said NO to living for ever. I protest ! It’s not fair !”
My good friend, firstly, it’s too late to protest. You now exist, your soul exists, and it can never cease to exist, except if God were to annihilate it, which He could do but never does, as His true Church has infallibly told us. And secondly, it’s unfair to protest, because His one and only purpose in giving you life as a sheer gift, without your being consulted, was that you should go to Heaven to enjoy everlasting and unimaginable bliss by seeing Him spiritually in all His dazzling glory. Now the brute animals have a soul,
but it is a purely material soul, incapable of spiritual bliss, so for you to share in His bliss He needed to make you a rational animal with intelligence and free-will.
However, if God did give you free-will, He and you ran the risk of your misusing it, but that would not be His fault. In fact every single soul in Hell remembers, all too clearly, how relatively easily it could have been saved, if only it had wished, and this memory is a large part of its unending torment. In life, God’s help had always been “closer than the door” (Irish saying). It is only the soul that chose not to want it. True, the soul was not consulted before it was given existence with no possibility of not existing for ever. But the possibility of seeing God is so magnificent that it is protesting against it which is unfair.
Therefore, if we have been baptised, we should have risen with Christ from the spiritually dead to a new life, says St Paul. Let Catholics but lead that new life, and their example can save whatever can still be saved in our poor world.
If Catholics lived by their risen life within,
They could yet save a world drowning in sin.