All the Dead Will Rise
Again by Fr. James B. Buckley, F.S.S.P.
Director of Spirituality, Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary
Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter Newsletter January 2009
Issues For Life Topic Page
The Fourth Council of the Lateran declares that among the doctrines which Catholics believe and profess is this: "that all will arise with their own bodies which they now have to receive according to their works whether these are good or bad" (Denzinger 429). From the words of Saint Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:2, it is evident that all men will arise from the dead at the same time ("...the trumpet will sound and the dead will arise incorruptible").
In the resurrection, the soul will be joined to the same body it was joined to in this mortal life. Saint Thomas Aquinas points out that the resurrection concerns the body more than the soul because after death the body falls but the soul lives. "And so," he says, "if it is not the same body which the soul takes up again, it will not be called a resurrection but rather the assumption of a new body" (Cf. S. Th. Supplementum, q 79. a. 1).
The Saint was aware that during man's mortal life the material of his body ebbs and flows. He, therefore, says that the soul by no means takes back all of the body's material but it is necessary that it take back some of it. Otherwise, there can be no true resurrection of the body.
Because the bodies of the blessed are in the likeness of Christ's gloriously risen body, they too will possess impassibility, agility, subtlety and clarity, the qualities mentioned in 1 Cor. 15:42-44. Because they are impassible, the bodies of the blessed will "never suffer mourning, nor weeping nor will there be any more sorrow" (Apoc 42:4). By the quality of agility, "they will leap forth like sparks in tinder" (Wis 3:7), moving with the greatest speed at the command of the soul. Because the risen body of the blessed will be totally subject to the spirit (subtlety), it will "rise up a spiritual body" (1 Cor. 15:43). Because of their clarity, they "will shine like the sun in the kingdom of the Father" (Matt. 13:43).
The condition of the damned will be the opposite of the condition of the blessed. Their bodies will be darkened: "their countenances shall be as faces burnt" (Isaias 13:8). They will always suffer the pain of fire: "their worm will not die and their fire will not be quenched" (Isaias 66:24). Their bodies will be weighed down: "For binding their kings with fetters and their nobles in iron manacles" (Psalm 148:8). They will be carnal in body and soul: "The beasts have rotted in their dung" (Joel 1:17).
In his Commentary on the Apostles' Creed, the Angelic Doctor enumerates four useful thoughts coming from belief in the resurrection: "... We should know," he writes, "that faith and hope in the resurrection is helpful to us for four reasons:
"(1) It takes away the sadness we bear for those who died. It is impossible that someone not grieve over the death of a friend: yet, insofar as they hope their friend will arise, the sorrow of death is much assuaged.
"(2) The resurrection of the flesh takes away the fear of death. If a human being were not to hope in another and better life after death, without doubt death would be excessively feared. One would rather have to do any evil deed than to incur death. But, because we believe there is another and better life to which we shall attain after death, it stands that no one ought to fear death, nor commit any sin on account of the fear of death.
"(3) (The resurrection of the flesh) renders us solicitous and studious for behaving well. If the life of a human being were only what we now experience, there would not be any great effort among humankind for behaving well. Whatever a human being would do might seem trivial, since it would be a determinate good measured in time, rather than in eternity. However, since we believe that through this (resurrection of the flesh) we will receive eternal goods in the resurrection for what we do here and now, we will strive to lead a good life.
"4) The resurrection of the flesh draws us away from evil. Just as the hope of reward entices (us) to live well, so fear of pain that we believe will be reserved for the wicked, draws us away from evil."
Issues For Life Topic Page