9.5 The condition of souls in the beyond

The condition of souls in the beyond is a direct expression of their proximity to, or remoteness from, God, and therefore varies greatly. Death has not brought about any change to the condition of the souls. Rather, their condition is identical to that which they had during their lifetime.

The term "realm" is sometimes used in connection with proximity to, or remoteness from, God. The realm into which a soul passes in the beyond depends upon how a person has conducted himself with respect to the will of God. In this each individual bears responsibility for himself. For instance, belief or unbelief, forgiveness or irreconcilability, love or hatred not only leave their mark on human beings during earthly life, but also in the beyond.

In 1 Thessalonians 4: 16 we read of the "dead in Christ". These are souls who were reborn of water and the Spirit, and who sincerely endeavoured to live in accordance with their faith. The fellowship with the Lord, into which they entered during their earthly lives through Holy Baptism with water and Holy Sealing, and which they maintained through Holy Communion, will continue after their death. Together with the faithful on earth, they belong to the congregation of the Lord, and find themselves in a condition of righteousness before God (see 4.2.1.2 and 4.8.2). For these souls, preparing for the return of Christ was the central element of their earthly lives, and the longing for this moment also fills them in the beyond. They were and remain devoted to the Lord, and will experience security and peace.

The Wisdom of Solomon 3: 1-3 already mentions the possibility of a condition of security: "But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and there shall no torment touch them. In the sight of the unwise they seemed to die: and their departure is taken for misery. And their going from us to be utter destruction: but they are in peace."

The dead in Christ have access to the word of God. Through this word as well as through Holy Communion administered to them by Apostles (see 12.1.9 and 12.1.3) they receive that which they need for attaining eternal life.

There are also reborn souls who pass into the beyond who have not lived according to their faith. In order to rectify their deficiencies they need–as is the case on earth–the grace of God in word and sacrament.

Those souls in the beyond who have never heard of the gospel, never experienced forgiveness of sins, and never received any sacraments, find themselves in a condition of remoteness from God. This can only be overcome by believing in Jesus Christ, accepting His merit, and receiving the sacraments.

SUMMARY

The term "beyond" refers to all realms, events, and conditions that lie outside of the material world. Often the beyond is equated with the realm of the dead. (9.4)

Christ, the "firstfruits" in the resurrection, has conquered death and thereby made it possible for the souls in the beyond to enter into the proximity of God. (9.4)

The condition of the souls in the beyond is an expression of their proximity to God, or remoteness from Him, and is the same there as it was during their lifetime. Those who are reborn and who followed the Lord will find themselves in a state of righteousness before God. Souls who have never heard of the gospel, never had their sins forgiven, and never received a sacrament, find themselves in a condition of remoteness from God. This can only be overcome by believing in Jesus Christ, accepting His merit, and receiving the sacraments. (9.5)

See also