Author Topic: Death  (Read 331 times)

ClemensMaria

Death
« on: November 12, 2017, 01:56:12 PM »
This came up on the previous incarnation of this forum where there was a discussion about people being raised from the dead.  The difficulty was the question of how it would be possible to raise someone back to life when we know that the Church teaches that once you are judged your sentence can never be changed.  I just happened to read Mark 5:39, “And going in, he saith to them: Why make you this ado, and weep? The damsel is not dead, but sleepeth.”

I have also heard about two different deaths, the death of the body and the death of the soul.  I think when people are raised from the dead, they are either only apparently dead or they have only experienced the death of the body and have yet to be judged.  I have never heard of anyone coming back from Heaven much less Hell and I don’t believe it is possible.  But I’m sure it is possible for the dead to be raised.

The other difficulty is that there is a teaching of the Church which says that immediately upon death, the soul appears before the judgement seat of God.  I wonder if the difficulty isn’t due to the equivocal definition of death.  Maybe there are different stages of death?  The body ceases function.  The soul leaves the body.  The soul is judged.  Maybe raising from the dead is only possible for the first stage. 
 
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MyrnaM

Re: Death
« Reply #1 on: November 13, 2017, 06:08:45 PM »
I have heard that if the person has been pronounced dead but the body is still warm that might be a sign the soul has not yet left the body.  A few decades ago there was a car accident where the two teens were pronounced dead at the scene and our priest came because one of the boys was a student at the Church/school.  The priest, I heard through the grapevine noticed one boy was cold but our student was still warm therefore he gave him the Last Rites. 

Also, keep in mind that God is always in charge (as I know you know) and He certainly can allow someone who seemingly seems dead but as you stated He was not yet judged because of some supernatural reason.  I believe as you do that once judged your eternity is fixed forever. 
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Mithrandylan

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Re: Death
« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2017, 09:23:48 AM »
Hi Clemens,

I was fairly vocal in my belief that a "proper" raising from the dead post-resurrection was not possible.  My position was that any such reports were not resurrections "proper" but instances of people cured from coma and the like.  My objections were the same challenges you raise here-- mainly, given the solemnly defined immediacy of judgment after death combined with the fact that once you're judged, you're judged, it seems not possible for someone to be raised from the dead except and unless they were judged elect and remained elect, or judged reprobate and remained reprobate.  The big problem was in arguing that someone died reprobate, came back to life, and then was "judged again" and found elect.

However, after thinking about it more and more, I think that such resurrections are possible, or at least aren't clearly impossible.  Much of the problem explaining how they can be possible is owed to the limits of our languages and minds, which perceive and communicate events as discrete sequences.  But for God, it is all at once; there is nothing except what is, always.  Our own experiences, if you think about it (to the best of our insignificant and marginal abilities) through the divine perspective, aren't categorizable into "past" "present" and "future."  For God, we're doing whatever we're doing now, but also we're doing whatever it is we're doing before and after, and perhaps we're even, in some incomprehensible way, already judged.

So, we need to keep all that in mind from the very get-go as we consider events which include this mystery of time, judgment, and providence. 

Now, let me quote from a friend's email on this very topic:

Quote
I think there is no question that the dead have been raised in the New Covenant era.  Here's something from the Catholic Encyclopedia (vol. 10, p. 345): "Irenaeus taunts the magic-workers of his day that 'they cannot give sight to the blind nor hearing to the deaf, nor put to flight demons; and they are so far from raising the dead, as Our Lord did, and the Apostles, by prayer, and as is most frequently done among the brethren, that they even think it impossible' (Adv. haer., II)." [emphasis added]

I'll try to list the conceivable possibilities:

1. Those who were raised were not really dead; they just appeared so.
2. Those who died and were to be raised had their judgment delayed (at least as to the final sentence).
3. Those who died and were to be raised were judged and were told what eternal fate they had deserved; however, they were kept in some place other than Hell or Heaven until their resurrection. (I think it's less of a problem for them to go to Purgatory.)
4. Those who died and were to be raised were judged and were sent to Hell, Purgatory, or Heaven.  They were called back from one of these places when they were resurrected.  When they died again they were judged anew.

The definitions in Benedictus Deus seem to rule out numbers 2-4.  Benedictus Deus says:

Quote from: Benedictus Deus
By this Constitution which is to remain in force for ever, we, with apostolic authority, define the following: According to the general disposition of God, the souls of all the saints who departed from this world before the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ and also of the holy apostles, martyrs, confessors, virgins and other faithful who died after receiving the holy baptism of Christ—provided they were not in need of any purification when they died, or will not be in need of any when they die in the future, or else, if they then needed or will need some purification, after they have been purified after death—and again the souls of children who have been reborn by the same baptism of Christ or will be when baptism is conferred on them, if they die before attaining the use of free will: all these souls, immediately after death and, in the case of those in need of purification, after the purification mentioned above, since the ascension of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ into heaven, already before they take up their bodies again and before the general judgment, have been, are and will be with Christ in heaven, in the heavenly kingdom and paradise, joined to the company of the holy angels.

We could equivocate about the word "immediately."  As we know, definitions are meant to settle something in the clearest way, but they do not always address known exceptions.  Though for my part, I am more comfortable simply viewing "immediately" (the Latin word is "mox" which has several meanings, the most common of which I believe is "next in sequence") according to its plain meaning-- i.e., without any "stages" between.  But of course, we have to keep in mind the limits even of the Latin language in describing something which, of its own nature, is outside of time (and therefore difficult to view in strict sequential or chronological fashion).

However, it seems somewhat underwhelming to be led to conclude that all those raised from the dead were just in a coma-- granted, still miraculous, but not quite the same "signs and wonders" as raising someone from the dead.  Furthermore, there is actually a book by a Jesuit priest, Fr. Albert Herbert, entitled Raised from the Dead: True Stories of 400 Resurrection Miracles.  The scope and richness of such a pious belief extends beyond what I had initially imagined it to, and with hundreds of instances of such resurrections being recognized by Catholics, one should pause before radically re-viewing these events as simple "cures from sickness."

But how to explain the possibility of resurrection in the Christian era in light of Benedictus Deus?  Again, thanks to my friend, here is a translated excerpt from a theological tract de morte.  The author claims that it is of divine and Catholic faith that souls are judged immediately after death, and goes on to say:

Quote
There are some who, on account of a miraculous resurrection, die twice.  Thus at least for these, the time of probation is not ended by death.

I distinguish the consequent.  That in these the time of probation is not ended by the first death, I concede the consequent; by the second death, I deny the consequent.

As God knows that these are to be returned to mortal life, their lot is not decided at the first death, as is clear, but at the second, which for them is the definitive death.

Note well: Therefore God does not take account of all the good done in life, by him who dies in grave sin, as his soul, inasmuch as it lacks sanctifying grace, is turned away from God.

It's not much, but I think we can unpack it to explain such resurrections by keeping in mind the non-temporal nature of the events after death.  When God judges a man, He judges him once, and immediately.  However, in the case of those who are resurrected, God judges them for something they "haven't done yet."  They are "sent back" to earth to complete their tasks.  So, a person who dies in mortal sin for their "first death" is judged by God immediately, but is judged as actually being elect, in view of what they haven't done "yet" (from the human perspective).  One challenge this explanation creates, though, is that it doesn't account for the immediacy of going to Heaven, Hell, or Purgatory "after" being judged.  One could just say that God suspends the usual order of things so that such a person either can be in Heaven and on earth at once, or that God simply makes an exception in this case.  But that seems like a gargantuan helping of special-pleading pie, so I'm not sure how comfortable I am with advancing either of those options. 

Another way to explain it is to come up with a category of death that isn't "real death" but is more than coma (which is sort of what you've suggested).  We could say that those who die this "unreal death" are resurrected without any judgment at all in between their "first" and "second" life, and then are just judged for the totality of it after their "second death" which is the "real" death in this instance.  One thing we can't do is posit some "waiting area" in the Christian era.  When you really die, whatever that means, the very "next" thing to happen is that you are judged, and "after" that, the "very next" thing that happens is that you go wherever it is you're going to go.  So this second explanation really simplifies all of the events "after death" but it does so in almost too simple of a way, by just saying that the person never really died, and while it's somewhat more interesting than saying they were in a coma, I'm not sure it's all that better.

I think when it comes down to it, there's a mystery here that we're not going to solve.  But it's an enchanting thing to think about, so let's not stop!
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Re: Death
« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2017, 10:48:36 AM »
I thought that all things were possible with God.

A true resurrection from the dead (that is, one not part of the resurrection at the Last Judgment) is possible because such an event gives glory to God and is a sign from God. 

The only thing God cannot do is that which would be imperfect since that would be against His own nature.  A saint restoring a man to life (the Acts of the Apostles describe, in detail, one such resurrection by Saint Paul) is clearly not impossible since:

1.  They have happened.

2.  Nothing is impossible with God.

It seems absolutely crazy to me that anyone would deny what the Church has infallibly declared to have happened, unless you're also saying that Scripture contains outright falsehoods and the Church is not infallible in such matters.
 

MyrnaM

Re: Death
« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2017, 12:08:54 PM »
I to have been thinking too much about this topic.  It started me to think again on this older topic 
here  -->  http://thetradforum.com/index.php?topic=106.0 

Within the brain, we find the mind, and conscience, brain, mind and conscience, I believe how it works.  When we have a true death the brain dies, but not the mind or conscience.  Since our soul continues to think in death, although united to the Will of God, speaking of the elect.

Now my question is this, a true situation that happened several years ago with our family.  A young unbaptized man was struck on his bike, taken to the hospital and was declared brain dead.  His body was being kept alive through the medical machine, his head was entirely bandaged.  A Catholic friend attempted to water baptize him by pouring water on any skin she could find on his body. 

I wonder if this person was truly dead already (soul might have left)?   While machines were just working his body.
I can't help thinking about him and wonder if perhaps yes, he was dead but his mind was watching and he consented to the baptism before they unhooked him.

I don't expect an answer because only God knows, but any thoughts would be appreciated.   




 

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Nick

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Re: Death
« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2017, 02:26:57 PM »
My thoughts, I use an analogy.

 There's a coin spinning in the air. We don't know when it will stop spinning, nor when it will land on the ground. Neither can we predict which side of the coin will be facing up when the coin toss is finally complete.

On one side of the coin is written " God's Mercy ", on the other side is written, " God's Justice".

I'd rather not presume to know which side of the coin is facing up " at the end"; but if the need to seek comfort / solace for either myself or others is overwhelming; then I personally, will tend to presume on , or in favor of, the Mercy of God.

This is in spite of the fact that I am rather cynical by nature and general life  experience. Others may perhaps tend to presume towards the Justice of God side of the coin being found face up on the " cosmic playing field ". Others may deny the dichotomy of the analogy of the coin that I tend to use.
I guess it comes down to, or perhaps, back to; one's fundamental personality traits.
I'm not capable of arguing over the catholicity of the above thoughts, it's only my personal opinions formed by personal experience.

« Last Edit: November 14, 2017, 06:03:06 PM by Nick »
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TradCat4Christ

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Re: Death
« Reply #6 on: November 27, 2017, 07:54:01 PM »
This came up on the previous incarnation of this forum where there was a discussion about people being raised from the dead.  The difficulty was the question of how it would be possible to raise someone back to life when we know that the Church teaches that once you are judged your sentence can never be changed.  I just happened to read Mark 5:39, “And going in, he saith to them: Why make you this ado, and weep? The damsel is not dead, but sleepeth.”

I have also heard about two different deaths, the death of the body and the death of the soul.  I think when people are raised from the dead, they are either only apparently dead or they have only experienced the death of the body and have yet to be judged.  I have never heard of anyone coming back from Heaven much less Hell and I don’t believe it is possible.  But I’m sure it is possible for the dead to be raised.

The other difficulty is that there is a teaching of the Church which says that immediately upon death, the soul appears before the judgement seat of God.  I wonder if the difficulty isn’t due to the equivocal definition of death.  Maybe there are different stages of death?  The body ceases function.  The soul leaves the body.  The soul is judged.  Maybe raising from the dead is only possible for the first stage.
I suggest reading "The Four Last Things" God Bless you

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« Last Edit: November 27, 2017, 07:55:33 PM by TradCat4Christ »
 

TradCat4Christ

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Re: Death
« Reply #7 on: November 29, 2017, 10:38:41 AM »
My thoughts, I use an analogy.

 There's a coin spinning in the air. We don't know when it will stop spinning, nor when it will land on the ground. Neither can we predict which side of the coin will be facing up when the coin toss is finally complete.

On one side of the coin is written " God's Mercy ", on the other side is written, " God's Justice".

I'd rather not presume to know which side of the coin is facing up " at the end"; but if the need to seek comfort / solace for either myself or others is overwhelming; then I personally, will tend to presume on , or in favor of, the Mercy of God.

This is in spite of the fact that I am rather cynical by nature and general life  experience. Others may perhaps tend to presume towards the Justice of God side of the coin being found face up on the " cosmic playing field ". Others may deny the dichotomy of the analogy of the coin that I tend to use.
I guess it comes down to, or perhaps, back to; one's fundamental personality traits.
I'm not capable of arguing over the catholicity of the above thoughts, it's only my personal opinions formed by personal experience.
Do you think perfect justice consists in those who are wrong admitting it themselves? When an immortal soul that is blackened by sin comes face to face with Goodness and Perfection; like coming to a wedding banquet in dirty, torn, and nasty garments while all your friends are dressed up with the finest clothes they have...would you still want to remain in their presence, or would you turn and leave out of embarrassment? I believe souls that are condemned, are condemned of their own accord. The graces and chances God gives us during this life have to do with His infinite mercy, if we choose not to take advantage if these free gifts what is left for Him to give us? As a good parent often gives their children direction and guidance when it comes to life. Ultimately the child who grows up and makes those choices has to live with their desicions. Everything that enters into Heaven must be perfect. Sanctifying grace is when God dwells in your soul, if He is their but you are still "dirty" you must be purged. If He is not present in your soul then we go to Hell. We cannot get to Heaven unless we make room for God to dwell in our souls.

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« Last Edit: November 29, 2017, 10:42:05 AM by TradCat4Christ »
 

TradCat4Christ

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Re: Death
« Reply #8 on: November 29, 2017, 10:55:56 AM »
I to have been thinking too much about this topic.  It started me to think again on this older topic 
here  -->  http://thetradforum.com/index.php?topic=106.0 

Within the brain, we find the mind, and conscience, brain, mind and conscience, I believe how it works.  When we have a true death the brain dies, but not the mind or conscience.  Since our soul continues to think in death, although united to the Will of God, speaking of the elect.

Now my question is this, a true situation that happened several years ago with our family.  A young unbaptized man was struck on his bike, taken to the hospital and was declared brain dead.  His body was being kept alive through the medical machine, his head was entirely bandaged.  A Catholic friend attempted to water baptize him by pouring water on any skin she could find on his body. 

I wonder if this person was truly dead already (soul might have left)?   While machines were just working his body.
I can't help thinking about him and wonder if perhaps yes, he was dead but his mind was watching and he consented to the baptism before they unhooked him.

I don't expect an answer because only God knows, but any thoughts would be appreciated.   




 
Would this person have desired or sought for a Catholic Baptism had he lived through this horrible experience? The Council of Trent discusses Baptism of Desire so it might help if you start there articles 737 and 1244 I believe...but yes ultimately God is the only one who can read this person's heart. I am an addict and an alcoholic who attempts to regularly attend meetings, something that someone brought up one time was that for each of us God has a bag with a certain number of chances to try to get things right. When our time is up, that's it we are out of chances. Just like a tree that falls in the woods lays in whatever direction it fell forever...whatever we have acquired for ourselves at the point of our unknown deaths is all we have to take with us for eternity. That's why the sacraments, the rosary, prayer, mediation all that stuff is the treasure we can lay up for ourselves that neither moth nor rust will consume, and no thieves can break in and steal. God Bless you.

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Nick

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Re: Death
« Reply #9 on: November 29, 2017, 05:56:19 PM »
My thoughts, I use an analogy.

 There's a coin spinning in the air. We don't know when it will stop spinning, nor when it will land on the ground. Neither can we predict which side of the coin will be facing up when the coin toss is finally complete.

On one side of the coin is written " God's Mercy ", on the other side is written, " God's Justice".

I'd rather not presume to know which side of the coin is facing up " at the end"; but if the need to seek comfort / solace for either myself or others is overwhelming; then I personally, will tend to presume on , or in favor of, the Mercy of God.

This is in spite of the fact that I am rather cynical by nature and general life  experience. Others may perhaps tend to presume towards the Justice of God side of the coin being found face up on the " cosmic playing field ". Others may deny the dichotomy of the analogy of the coin that I tend to use.
I guess it comes down to, or perhaps, back to; one's fundamental personality traits.
I'm not capable of arguing over the catholicity of the above thoughts, it's only my personal opinions formed by personal experience.
Do you think perfect justice consists in those who are wrong admitting it themselves? When an immortal soul that is blackened by sin comes face to face with Goodness and Perfection; like coming to a wedding banquet in dirty, torn, and nasty garments while all your friends are dressed up with the finest clothes they have...would you still want to remain in their presence, or would you turn and leave out of embarrassment? I believe souls that are condemned, are condemned of their own accord. The graces and chances God gives us during this life have to do with His infinite mercy, if we choose not to take advantage if these free gifts what is left for Him to give us? As a good parent often gives their children direction and guidance when it comes to life. Ultimately the child who grows up and makes those choices has to live with their desicions. Everything that enters into Heaven must be perfect. Sanctifying grace is when God dwells in your soul, if He is their but you are still "dirty" you must be purged. If He is not present in your soul then we go to Hell. We cannot get to Heaven unless we make room for God to dwell in our souls.

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Wow Guru TradCat, I'm glad to hear that you paid attention in your catechism classes. I'm not actually shopping today at your self help /  motivational advice dispensary. Best wishes on your recovery, but as others have implied, we're a little choosy when it comes to looking for advice.
"Now when [a pope] is explicitly a heretic, he falls ipso facto from his dignity and out of the Church, and the Church must either deprive him, or, as some say, declare him deprived, of his Apostolic See, and must say as St. Peter did: Let another take his bishopric.".      St. Francis de Sales.