Ask a Priest

On the day of the final Judgement

Aug 25, 2014

Dear Fr John,

It is said that every person both alive and dead (but risen at the rapture) will be judged by God. will God reflect on the good things that we have done and ignore the sins, even if we havent done a confession before the rapture? Or will we be punished forever owing to the sins we’ve committed and ignor our good deeds?

Many Thanks.


Asked at 04:04 pm on August 25th 2014

Dear Sean:

There is no “rapture” in Catholic teaching, this is a term used by some groups of Protestants.

When we die we are judged according to what we have done. As the Catechism explains:

“1021 Death puts an end to human life as the time open to either accepting or rejecting the divine grace manifested in Christ.590 The New Testament speaks of judgment primarily in its aspect of the final encounter with Christ in his second coming, but also repeatedly affirms that each will be rewarded immediately after death in accordance with his works and faith. the parable of the poor man Lazarus and the words of Christ on the cross to the good thief, as well as other New Testament texts speak of a final destiny of the soul -a destiny which can be different for some and for others.”

Then, there is the Last Judgment, when both those dead and living will have a final judgment. This last judgment will not change the decision already given for those who had previously died and received their individual judgment, but it will be the first and last judgment for those still alive at the time of the Last Judgment. The Catechism explains that:

“1038 The resurrection of all the dead, “of both the just and the unjust,”621 will precede the Last Judgment. This will be “the hour when all who are in the tombs will hear [the Son of man’s] voice and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment.”622 Then Christ will come “in his glory, and all the angels with him …. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left…. and they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”623”

At the time of judment our good deeds will not be ignored, but our sins will also be taken into account. If at the time of death, or for those alive at the Last Judgment, a person has unrepented or un-confessed grave sins then their souls are in grave danger.

Replied at 02:46 am on August 26th 2014

I just wanted to confirm what you mean. So every good person who dies before the Last judgement will be in Heaven or elsewhere? (If it is heaven then why does the teaching say “all who are in the tombs will hear” Christ’s voice?)
Then at the Last judgement will these good be raised to new life (along with the rest of the “sheep”) which is Heaven on Earth?
If this is the case then can someone who was dead and did badly be raised to eternal life through the prayers of those still alive?
Lastly, the Catechism states that after death this is the time where a person can accept or reject Christ’s grace. Does this mean that a bad person would be judged as good if they accepted Jesus as Christ there and then?

Sorry about all the questions! Just find this really interesting.

Replied at 01:26 pm on September 04th 2014

Dear Viven:

1. If you read no. 1021 of the Catechism that I had posted above you will see it starts by saying that death puts an end to the time when we can accept or reject divine grace. Therefore I don’t think you are correct in saying that the Catechism says that after death we can accept or reject grace. You must have misunderstood the text – if you want further clarification on this you need to quote me the number of the Catechism you are referring to.

2. No. 1022 of the Catechism says:

“1022 Each man receives his eternal retribution in his immortal soul at the very moment of his death, in a particular judgment that refers his life to Christ: either entrance into the blessedness of heaven-through a purification594 or immediately,595 — or immediate and everlasting damnation.596”

Therefore, following death there is the particular judgment and a person’s soul goes to where it has been sent – Heaven, Purgatory, or Hell.

3. We don’t know if there is a Heaven on Earth or what form Heaven will take. Regarding Heaven I suggest you read nos. 1023-8 of the Catechism.

4. Someone who has died and is in Purgatory undergoing purification before reaching Heaven can be helped by the prayers of those alive. The destiny of those in Heaven or Hell cannot be changed through our prayers.

Replied at 12:24 am on September 05th 2014

Thanks for the clarification.

Replied at 07:20 am on September 08th 2014

Am I correct in thinking that this doesn’t exclude the fact that the “moment of death” could be prolonged, e.g. while you are “dying” e.g. physical body moving through stages of death e.g. brain shutting down on its last energy etc, that you could accept grace in those moments and prevent having to go straight to Hell?

Replied at 10:00 am on October 17th 2014

Dear David:

It is always possible to repent at the last minute, so long as we are still alive God’s grace is available.

Replied at 11:01 pm on October 19th 2014