What will become of our body at the resurrection of the dead?

8 June 2023

Que deviendra notre corps à la résurrection de la chair ?
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“I believe in the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting; and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.” So does confess Catholic faith. Yet, in what kind of “body” are we to undergo resurrection? What will become of our body then?

What becomes of our body after we die?

Some will answer that science renders such a question obsolete… Others, such as new age adepts, will elaborate on the “astral body”, and others, on “reincarnation” and so forth. But the faith of the Catholic Church is not a myth. Christ told us that He will raise us on the Last Day (cf. Jn 6:39-40). His own resurrection is a pledge of our own.

Clearly, as we pass over, souls are severed from bodies; thus, remain corpses and decay. On the contrary, souls, as spiritual constituents, encounter God who shows them in a flash the truth about their life and introduces them either immediately in eternal rapture or in an intermediate state of purification (called purgatory), or, when they unfortunately choose to reject God and His Mercy, do they enter utmost gloom.

Resurrection of the body: what body are we talking about?

Yet, “the resurrection of the body” will only take place on the Last Day, when “the world in its present form (is) passing away” (cf. 1 Co 7, 31). Space, time and matter will no longer exist as we know them presently: everything shall be radically transformed. Our personality – spirit, soul, body – will then be thoroughly restored, and the soul will recover the body to which it gave constitution, and which she needs to fully be itself.

For each one, this new body, vesture of the soul, will indeed be one’s own, shouldering the memory of one’s past deeds. However , by then, the elect will have been clothed with Christ: body and soul shall perfectly correspond to one another, fully united and incorporated in the perfection of Christ, raised in the glory of God.

What kind of glory are we to be endowed with at “the resurrection of the body”?

So, what kind of glory is that? It is a purely spiritual light that divulges God and communicates His presence and existence to all spectrum of Creation, from the archangels right down to us. That very light will endow, permeate, and absorb each of the elect. They will glow alike suns, each one according to their own disposition, as created by God and loved by Him for their unique character, and as a distinctive and singular image of Christ the Son, absolute and perfect image of God the Father, fully revealed through the Holy Spirit.

At the resurrection, Saint Paul states (cf Phil 3:21) that Christ Jesus who is exalted “to the right hand of the Father” will change our lowly bodies who “will be changed to conform with his glorified body”. Ours will thus be a glorious body, living in the radiance of God’s presence. Our senses, memory and intelligence, together with all the capacities of our body and soul, shall bond together through the simple and utterly perfect act of contemplating God, and thence will blossom in His love.

Besides, in 1 Co 15, 44, Saint Paul further declares that our body here on earth is psychic (and therefore marked by our soul’s confined on itself) but that it will rise again as a spiritual body, whereby one’s body and soul shall be living in the Holy Spirit’s perfect unity, and communing with all the elect and the angels in the light of God.

A radically and infinitely new existence

Ensuing the “new heaven and new earth” (cf. Rev. 21, 1) which will be made manifest on the Last Day, we will be elevated to ways of living radically and utterly foreign to what science could ever explain. Likewise such new means of existing shall not be misunderstood for a kind of “astral body” as per some spiritism adepts claim.

Right now, by faith and with a fully open intelligence together with the wisdom imparted by the Holy Spirit in the eucharistic grace of the risen Christ, not only can our own heart experience the very presence of eternity, but also intuitively receive the assurance from the forth-shining glow of glory that we will one day bring us all together in the “Father’s House” (cf. Jn 14:2)

Christophe Attali

(Article first published in the shrine magazine issue n°244.)

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