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Karen Cox wrote:

Hi, guys —

  • What does the Catholic teaching, the deceased will be raised up on the last day, mean?
  • When someone dies, if they're not evil, is it believed they immediately begin their journey toward Heaven?
  • If they don't, then why does the Bible say they will be raised up on the last day?

Karen Cox

  { What does the Catholic teaching, "the deceased will be raised up on the last day" mean? }

Paul replied:

Dear Karen,

All of the dead will be raised on the last day. The just are raised to glorification and those that rejected God to damnation.

Before the last day if someone dies they immediately experience an individual or particular judgment in their disembodied state. They remain either:

  • in union with God until the Resurrection of the body, or
  • alienated from Him in Hell.


Paul followed-up later:


An addendum to my answer below should include the possibility of Purgatory after individual judgment.

This is for those who have been saved but need purgation and purification before entering the fullness of God's Presence in Heaven. This is because they have been saved from eternal punishment due to sin by virtue of their repentance and love for God, but still need to experience temporal punishment, (See Purgatory in the Catechism of the Catholic Church).

That said, after the last day and final, general judgment there are only two everlasting destinies:

  1. Heaven, with God or
  2. Hell, separated from His life/love.


Mike replied:

Hi Karen,

I just wanted to add to Paul's answer from my Catholic Notes because the teaching on Purgatory has been misunderstood in the past.

Catholic Notes:

When talking with friends and family on Purgatory, it’s important they know the basics:

  • Purgatory does exist.
  • Purgatory is not a third place along with Heaven and Hell nor it is a second chance.
  • Purgatory has nothing to do with Limbo, which was only a theological opinion and was never a doctrine of the Church.
  • Purgatory is like the Holy Hospital of Heaven.
  • Souls in Purgatory have been saved just as much as the souls in Heaven.

Purgatory refers to a temporary state of purification for those who have died in the state of grace but still need to get rid of any lingering imperfections (venial sins, earthly attachments, self-will, etc.) before entering the perfection of Heaven.

Purgatory has nothing to do with one's justification or salvation. Those in Purgatory are justified; they are saved.  Purgatory has to do with one's personal holiness and the burning away of remaining self-love.  Revelation 21:27 It's our personal holiness because each person uses their free will differently in life to make good or bad choices on our pilgrimage to our particular judgment.

This article by Emily Stimpson from Our Sunday Visitor ( September 29, 2013 will also be helpful.

If you struggle to understand the Catholic view of Purgatory, this analogy may help:

Think of sin as a self-inflicted wound in your life.

When we physically hurt ourselves, many times we have to be brought to the hospital and the doctor or nurse will put an alcoholic disinfectant in our cut or wound. It will hurt ... a lot!!! but it's a good hurt; it's a holy hurt, that is needed to make us physically better.

We also have to distinguish between less severe physical injuries where we cut ourselves and require stitches and more severe injuries, like a NASCAR racing driver who gets into a major collision and ends up with third or fourth-degree burns over 90 percent of their body. There are varying degrees of damage that we do to our bodies, not only physically, but spiritually too!

Because Revelation tells us that nothing impure can enter Heaven (Revelation 21:27) and because God Himself is all Holy, we too, have to be all Holy to enter Heaven. To achieve this, any remaining self-inflicted spiritual wounds (meaning self-love) from our pilgrimage on earth has to be burned off, healed, and purified.

  • If our spiritual injuries are along the line of just needing stitches, that healing period where our self-love has to be burned off will be short;
  • but if our self-inflicted injuries are along the line of third or fourth-degree burns, the healing process will take longer.

Saints in the past have had private revelations from the souls in Purgatory. They [the Holy Souls in Purgatory] have shared that, while the [healing|burning] fires of God’s Love in Purgatory are painful (Hebrews 12:29, Exodus 3:1-6), at the same time they had an internal, burning joy because they knew they were being conformed to the image of God and their final destiny would be total union with Him.

Instead of the good healing pain that the alcoholic disinfectant gave us under a doctor’s care to prepare us to re-enter the earthly world again, in Purgatory, we experience a holy, healing pain under Jesus’ Care which purifies our souls and prepares us to enter eternal life with God who is all Holy.

If you run into family and friends with a strong devotion to praying for the Holy Souls in Purgatory, have them check out my other site at:

I hope this helps,


Please report any and all typos or grammatical errors.
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