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By Bishop Brian J. Kennedy, O.S.B.


When we die, it is only our human body that dies.  We continue to have a spiritual (aka glorified) body

which has legs, arms etc.  Any physical infirmity dies with the earthly body.  The spiritual body, freed from the shackles of time and space and the limitations experienced in the material body has a heightened sense and tactile experience.  The physical senses are enhanced.  Unshackled by the limitations of the earthly body, the mind can perceive and understand to a new heightened level.  For this reason, the pains of Hell and the joys of Heaven are beyond anything we can experience on earth or even imagine.  


The spiritual body is part of the soul.  The soul is not something in man, it IS man and includes the spiritual body. 


When the person dies to this world, he enters a parallel plane to earth.  He can see his earthly remains and often can hear and communicate with those he left behind. 


I know a case of a young girl with two children whose Great Aunt was her financial source and when the Great Aunt died, the girl reports her Aunt appeared to her in a dream and told her there was $10,000 in

a package in the freezer marked Liver.  The next morning she went to her Aunt’s home and found the money as revealed to her in the dream.  Neither the Aunt nor the girl were Christians.  This was the progression of life after death, independent of our faith or standing with God.  


Scripture teaches there is death and then the Judgement.  We don’t know how soon after death is the Judgment.  For some it could be immediate and for others it could take two hundred years or even more.


Is there such a thing as Ghosts? Yes.  A Ghost is a person locked into the parallel plane for whatever reason awaiting the first Judgment.  If you were mean and vile on this earth, you will be mean and vile on the other side. Your personality does not change because you enter into eternity. 


Another documented case is a religious Lay Brother in El Paso, Texas who died and he was able to send a brief text message to another Monk in the Monastery.   This ability ends shortly after death as the person is incrementally drawn into the ‘other side’.   Another documented case is a man who died unexpectedly and was able to text his Dad to say “Bye”.  Many, it would seem, are able to move items by use of their mind. This ability too is short lived.


There are two Judgments, the first being the “Particular” Judgment and the second the “General” Judgment at the end of the world.  As I said, we don’t know when the “Particular” Judgment will be but the purpose of the Particular Judgment is to determine if the person is to be assigned to Heaven or Hell.  If the person is judged to be Just, he begins the process of being made perfect.  The Spirits of the Just in the process of being made perfect – perfect in love – are called the “Church Suffering”, this is a cleansing process and painful experience.  At the Particular Judgement, Satan will accuse us of sin as he seeks to have us to “sift as wheat”.  The name Satan means ‘accuser’ and references his action as the Prosecuting Attorney as it were at the Particular Judgment. Our hope is that our name is written in the book of life and we have our sins washed away by the Blood of the Lamb.  Jesus is our Defense Attorney, as it were. That is one reason why Christ instituted the Eucharist at the Last Supper, so we could be washed clean by His blood.  Scripture teaches we are healed by His Body and cleansed by His Blood.  This goal is accomplished only by the Eucharist.  That is why Jesus said “unless you eat my body and drink my blood you have no life in you.”  There is no other way to be washed in the Blood of the Lamb than in the Eucharist.  The Father seeing us washed in the Blood of His Son will say to Satan we are innocent of all charges, the penalty for our sins was paid on the Altar of the Cross.


At the Particular Judgment we will be reminded of the times we broke the circle of love as Jesus says “I was hungry and you gave me to eat or did not give me to eat.”  “I was homeless and you sheltered me or did not shelter me”. Etc.  We will say when did we see you hungry and not feed you, homeless and not shelter you and Jesus will say “the times you failed to do this for others you failed to do it for me”.  There are dire consequences on the other side for the times we did not love on this side or for the times we say “I have done enough”.  You say you will not give a love offering to others anymore and Jesus says you will pay for that decision.


We on earth are the “Church Militant” and those in Heaven are the “Church Triumphant”. The souls of the Just in the process of being made perfect – perfect in love – are the “Church Suffering”.  Jesus tells us we must be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect which means we love without limitations.


After the “Particular” Judgment, the person no longer knows anything about what is happening on earth.

He cannot communicate with those he left behind and we cannot communicate with him.  You cannot communicate with the dead at will. 


If the person is to be assigned a place in hell, he immediately experiences hell, although he does not actually go to hell at that point.  Other than for Tartarus, a part of hell occupied by the fallen Angels, Hell is empty.  How do we know that?  Because Scripture teaches the demons and his minions “roam the world seeking the ruination of souls”.  The have the “Hell experience” as they roam the world and they are filled with hate for God and man. 


For the person entering eternity, he will have a clearer vision of the role of his Guardian Angel.

For the Just, the Guardian Angel will protect and console him. 


Jesus tells us the road to salvation “is narrow and few there are that find it”.  Jesus tells us the path to condemnation is “wide and many find it”.  Being a good man or woman on earth will not save you.  You must be washed in the Blood of the Lamb.  You must have faith and you must walk in the light of that faith.


In the Bible, there are a number of different words for the abode(s) of the deceased. In the Hebrew Old Testament we find terms like "new earth," "Sheol," "Abaddon" and various words for "the pit." In the Greek New Testament and in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament), we find terms like "new earth," "Heaven," "Gehenna," "Hades," "Tartarus," "abyss" and "Lake of Fire."


Scripture is clear that the inhabitants of these realms are conscious and aware.


The Bible distinguishes heaven as a temporary place of blessing for the Spiritual body of believers (2 Cor. 5:6-8).


After the general resurrection, believers will leave heaven and live perpetually on the New Earth (Isa. 65:17; 66:22; 2 Pet. 3:13; Rev. 21:1).  Dogs will share in this new earth because they can love

and be loyal and even sacrifice their own life for man.  Self-preservation is the natural instinct of all men and beats alike but man and dogs can overcome this natural instinct to save another. 


The Lake of Fire is mentioned only in Revelation (Rev. 19:20; 20:10,14,15; 21:8), where it is described as the final place of torment for the wicked. Gehenna is not mentioned in Revelation. Judging from the descriptions of Gehenna and the Lake of Fire, they seem to be one and the same.


Tartarus is only used once, so we have very little information on it. It is where the fallen angels are temporarily imprisoned (2 Pet. 2:4), prior to the General Judgment.


Hell is an English catch-all term that different translations use in different ways. It is not directly related to any of the terms in the Hebrew or Greek Scriptures.


Outer darkness is a term used in Matthew to refer to a place of cursing, cut off from the blessings of God (Matt. 8:12; 22:13; 25:30). It is fairly equivalent to Gehenna, except that we have no references to it that mention fire. Tartarus is also described as being in darkness (2 Pet. 2:4).


The purpose of the General Judgement at the end of the world is to demonstrate God’s mercy and His Judgment.