What Will Our Resurrected Bodies Be Like?

In today’s first reading at Mass St Paul writes to the Philippians of the glory that our currently lowly bodies will one day enjoy:

He will change our lowly body  to conform with his glorified Body by the power that enables him also  to bring all things into subjection to himself. (Phil 3:19)

I once spoke with an older woman who wasn’t all that pleased to hear that her body was going to rise and be joined again to her soul: “Oh, Father, you don’t mean this old decrepit body?! If this body has to rise I am hoping for an improved model!”

Yes! I think most of us can relate to the need that our current lowly bodies will be improved. And they will surely be. Notice how the passage above says, that these lowly, often weak, diseased, and often over-weight bodies will be changed and reflect the glory of the resurrected body of Jesus. Yes, this old general issue clunker that I’m currently experiencing is going to be upgraded to a luxury model. We’re headed for first class.

In this month of November when we recall the four last things: Death, judgment, heaven and hell, we ought to consider for a moment what scripture and tradition have to say to us about what our resurrected bodies will be like.

 Now an important starting point in discussing this matter is a little humility. The fact is, a lot of what we are going to say here is speculation. But, it is not WILD speculation. It is rooted in Scripture to be sure. However, Scripture is describing things that are somewhat mysterious and difficult to reduce to words. Further, Scripture does not always elaborate on things which are said. Where we might wish for more details, none are given. Sometimes too, we infer qualities of the resurrected body based only on scriptural texts whose main purpose is not so much to describe the resurrected body. Rather, their purpose is to set forth the fact of the resurrection of Jesus. For example, Jesus appears and disappears at will in a room though the doors are locked. The point of the text is to tell us he appeared, not necessarily that the resurrected body has something we have come to call “agility” (see below). Hence the text does not elaborate on this point and we are left to infer things about Jesus resurrected body and then apply it to our own. This is not wrong, for Paul above says that our resurrected bodies will have qualities that conform to Jesus’ resurrected body . But the point is that the biblical texts do not elaborate on this or other qualities in a detailed manner and so, we are left to speculate and infer some of what we know.

St. John the Apostle expresses some of the humility we should bring to this discussion:

Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be like. But We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. (1 John 3:2)

I do not interpret John to mean we know nothing, for in so doing, he would negate other Scriptures. But I interpret him to mean that we do not fully grasp the meaning of what we are discussing,  and that much of it is mysterious. Something is known and revealed but much more of it is unknown and far beyond what we have yet experienced.

With the need for humility in mind let’s consider some of what we might be able to say of the qualities of a resurrected body. Perhaps it is well that we start with the most thorough passage in the New Testament on this subject and then list the traditional seven qualities of a resurrected body.

St. Paul writes of the resurrected body in First Corinthians 15:

But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body…..The splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another……The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power;  it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.  If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man…..Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—  in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting?”(1 Cor 15:35-55 selectae).

Now using this passage and others we can distinguish seven traditional qualities of a resurrected body. Here we will allow our source to be the Summa of St. Thomas. You can click on each quality (in blue) to read more a the NewAdvent  Summa online.

1. Identity – What this means essentially is that the very same body that falls in death will rise to be glorified. We cannot claim that we will get a different body, but rather, that our current body will rise and be glorified. St. Thomas says, For we cannot call it resurrection unless the soul return to the same body, since resurrection is a second rising, and the same thing rises that falls: wherefore resurrection regards the body which after death falls rather than the soul which after death lives. And consequently if it be not the same body which the soul resumes, it will not be a resurrection, but rather the assuming of a new body (Supl, Q 79.1).

This does not mean that the body will necessarily be identical in every way. As St. Paul says above, are current bodies are like the seed. And just as a seed does not have all the qualities of the mature plant, but does have all these qualities in seed form. So too our body is linked to our resurrected body causally and essentially though not all the qualities of the resurrected body are currently operative. Again, the Summa states: A comparison does not apply to every particular, but to some. For in the sowing of grain, the grain sown and the grain that is born thereof are neither identical, nor of the same condition, since it was first sown without a husk, yet is born with one: and the body will rise again identically the same, but of a different condition, since it was mortal and will rise in immortality. (Ibid).

Scripture attests that the same body that dies will also rise. Job said, And after my flesh has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another (Job 19:26-27). And to the Apostles, shocked at his resurrection Jesus said, Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have (Luke 24:39).

Hence the same body rises and so there is continuity. But there is also development and a shining forth of a new glory and capabilities that our bodies do not currently enjoy.

2. Integrity – We will retain all of the parts of our current bodies. Now this means every physical part of our body, even the less noble parts such as intestines etc. In the Gospel Jesus plainly ate even after the resurrection. He ate a fish before them (Luke 24:43). He also ate with the Disciples in Emmaus (Luke 24:30). He ate breakfast with them at the lake shore (Jn 21:12). Hence it follows that even less noble parts of our body will rise for eating and digestion are still functions of a resurrected body. Now Thomas argues (I think rightly) that food will not be necessary to the resurrected body (supl 81.4). But it is clearly possible to eat, for Christ demonstrates it.

St. Thomas reasons that every aspect of our bodies will rise since the soul is the form of the body. That is, the body has the faculties it has due to some aspect of the soul. The soul has something to say and hence the body has the capacity to talk and write and engage in other forms of communication. The soul has the capacity to do detailed work and hence the body has complex faculties such as delicate and nimble fingers, arms and so forth, to carry out this work. Now body is thus apt for the capacities of the soul, though now imperfectly, but then even more perfectly. (cf Summa supl. Q. 80.1).

At some level it seems we have to suspend our speculation and keep it within limits.  The Summa goes into matters which I think are highly speculative and you can click on the blue word integrity above to read these speculations. But personally I think we should refrain from trying ask questions about whether hair and nails will grow and what bodily fluids will still be necessary and why. Will latrines be needed in heaven or will food be perfectly absorbed and nothing wasted? etc. We just have to stop at a certain point and say we just have no business knowing this stuff and it is purely speculative to discuss it. The bottom line is that, yes the Body shall rise, whole and complete. Its functions will be perfected and perfectly apt for the soul in a way beyond what they are now. But as to the intimate details, we ought to realize that humilty is the best posture.

3. Quality – Our bodies will be youthful and will retain our original gender. Now youthful here does not necessarily mean 18-22. Note that in the Philippians text that began this post, Paul says that our glorified bodies will be conformed to Christ’s glorified body. Now his body rose at approximately 30 – 33 of physical age. Elsewhere St. Paul exhorts Christians to persevere, Until we all meet into the unity of faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the age of the fulness of Christ (Eph 4:13). Hence it would seem that Christ’s resurrected body is the perfect age.

St Augustine also speculates, that Christ rose again of youthful age,….about the age of thirty years. Therefore others also will rise again of a youthful age  (cf De Civ. Dei xxii).

St. Thomas further notes: Man will rise again without any defect of human nature, because as God founded human nature without a defect, even so will He restore it without defect. Now human nature has a twofold defect. First, because it has not yet attained to its ultimate perfection. Secondly, because it has already gone back from its ultimate perfection. The first defect is found in children, the second in the aged: and consequently in each of these human nature will be brought by the resurrection to the state of its ultimate perfection which is in the youthful age, at which the movement of growth terminates, and from which the movement of decrease begins. (Supl Q. 81.1)

Further,  since gender is part of human perfection, it will pertain to all to rise according to the gender we are now. Other qualities such as height, hair color and other such diverse things will also be retained, it would seem,  since this diversity is part of man’s perfection.

Here too we have to realize that merely picturing Jesus as a 33 year old guy is not sufficient. All the resurrection appearances make it clear that his appearance was somehow changed, though also recognizable,  and this is a mystery. Further the heavenly description of Jesus is far from simple to decode in manners of age and appearance:

and among the lampstands was someone “like a son of man,” dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire.  His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters.  In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. (Rev 1:12-18)

Hence we must avoid over-simplifications when it comes to speaking of how our resurrected bodies will appear. We cannot simply project current human realities into heaven and think we understand what a resurrected body will look like in terms of age, stature, and other physical qualities. They are there but they are transposed to a higher level.

4. Impassability – We will be immune from death and pain. Scripture states this clearly:  The dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.  For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. (1 Cor 15:52-53). And again, He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”  (Rev 21:4). Thomas goes on at some length and you can click on the blue word impassibility to read more. But for here let the scriptural reference suffice

5. Subtlety – Our bodies will be free from the things that restrain them now. Subtlety refers to the capacity of the resurrected body to be completely conformed to the capacities of the soul. St Thomas says of this quality,  the term “subtlety” has been transferred to those bodies which are most perfectly subject to their form, and are most fully perfected thereby….For just as a subtle thing is said to be penetrative, for the reason that it reaches to the inmost part of a thing, so is an intellect said to be subtle because it reaches to the insight of the intrinsic principles and the hidden natural properties of a thing. In like manner a person is said to have subtle sight, because he is able to perceive by sight things of the smallest size: and the same applies to the other senses. Accordingly people have differed by ascribing subtlety to the glorified bodies in different ways. (Supl. Q. 83.1)

In other words, the Body is perfected because the soul is. And the body is now fully conformed to the soul. Currently in my lowly body, I may wish to go to Vienna, Austria in a few moments to hear an opera,  but my body cannot pull that off. It does not currently pertain to my body to be able to instantly be somewhere else on the planet. I have to take time to get there and exert effort. However it will be noticed that Jesus could appear and disappear in a room despite the closed doors. Although, before his resurrection he had to take long physical journeys,  now he can simply be where he wants (cf John 19:20, 26). This quality is very closely related to agility which we consider next.

6. Agility – We will have complete freedom of movement, our souls will direct our bodies without hindrance.  St Thomas says, The glorified body will be altogether subject to the glorified soul, so that not only will there be nothing in it to resist the will of the spirit…..from the glorified soul there will flow into the body a certain perfection, whereby it will become adapted to that subjection: …Now the soul is united to body not only as its form, but also as its mover; and in both ways the glorified body must be most perfectly subject to the glorified soul.  We have already referred to the capacity of Jesus’ in his glorified body to anywhere at once and not be hindered by locked doors etc.    Consider too these description of the agility of the resurrected body:

  1. As they [on the road to Emmaus] talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; (Luke 24:15)
  2. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Jesus, and he disappeared from their sight. (Luke 24:31)
  3. While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, Peace be with you (Luke 24:36)

7. Clarity – The glory of our souls will be visible in our bodies.  We will be beautiful and radiant. It is written in the Scriptures  “The just shall shine as the sun in the kingdom of their Father,” (Matthew 13:43) . And again: “The just shall shine, and shall run to and fro like sparks among the reeds.” (Wisdom 3:7). And again, The body in sown in dishonor, it shall rise in glory. (1 Cor 15:43).

So, rejoice! The Lord is going to take these lowly bodies of our and change them to conform with his own body. We’re going to upgrade to an improved model to be sure. And in your glorified body you won’t have to take all this time to read this post, you’ll just know it. A long post to be sure. I am posting it in PDF form as well in case you want to print it our and read it. You can get it here: What Will Our Resurrected Bodies Be Like

51 Replies to “What Will Our Resurrected Bodies Be Like?”

  1. Thanks for this precision. I did not, as you note use the phrase walk through walls. Rather, I am saying that He is able to appear and disappear at will. SO my question for you is, Is Thomas saying that it is not a property of a resurrected body (other than Christ) to be in one place and then another quickly if not instantly? I’ve no problem with passing through walls. I agree that is not the nature of a physical (even glorified) body. But to be in one place and then another quickly as if in an instance, that is my question. Will we in our glorified bodies still have to catch a plane to get acros the country from washington DC to Seattle? We might still have knock on the door of said room, but can we get there in a moment or do we need to catch the plane? It seems to me that agility suggests we can be there in an instant. How do you read it?

    By the way, I did not know you had a blog. Great news. However, I had trouble reading it. When I go there the page writes, then goes blank. The banners and side bars remain but your text goes blank. I am able to highlight the material to read it but I wonder if others have this trouble? Are there demons here or do I need to update Explorer (again!).

    1. Gosh, Reginaldus,

      I am figuring you know Thomas well. But I must say I am once again reminded about how humble we have to be in matters such as these. For example, no telaporting but we will be able to move very fast. And if Thomas did speculate to this degree I wonder why? I personally am most comfortable in this matter with the biblical record which gives us some parameters but leaves the mystery intact. I am not sure why we have to talk about shrinking and so forth, and wonder if we have not go too far with speculation in this reagard. Maybe it’s ok to say will have agility (which scripture at least implies) and leave the “speed” and “through solid wall” questions in the reverence for mystery file. IMHO

    2. Let us be reminded that St. Thomas was not infallible. For instance his views on when human life began were corrected by the Church.

  2. Thank you for a thought provoking column, Monsignor. I wish this were brought up every once in a while in the Sunday sermon–more discussion of Heaven and our resurrected bodies. The eternal reward bears more focus than I believe is given. The last couple days I’ve had a nerve bothering me in my left leg. I definitely don’t want to have that problem in the next life!

    1. Yes, I have blogged before on how little people including priests and deacons talk of heaven today. It is afterall the eward and the point of everything. Without a proper motivation for a desireable end we don’t work very hard to stay in track.

  3. WOW! By the way, it seems that sci-fi must derive much of its inspiration from the Bible.

  4. Thank you for mentioning your blog as well. I will bookmark it. I am getting a good education right from home, as well as on Sundays at Church.

  5. Some Catholics believe the resurrection is being accomplished now, that is, God will have restored to mankind all the qualities of the resurrected body before the Second Coming of Christ, and other Catholics believe the resurrection will only happen according to the quality of one’s life: That is, not in the sense that “the measure by which you measure will be measured out to you” but in the sense that not everyone will be immortal (which is the nature of resurrection, not an accident of resurrection) because not everyone will achieve immortality.

  6. So inspiring! Thank you. I am now starting my mornings with a cup of hot coffee and your articles.

  7. Given that

    1. The eternal = the impassible = that which does not change;


    2. the temporal = that which is subject to change;


    3. the eternal, not being subject to change, must not admit of division into beginning, middle, and end, and therefore must not have a beginning;


    How can the mortal body, which is passible and subject to change, itself CHANGE into one that is eternal=impassible, and BEGIN being eternal?

  8. Reginaldus,

    I’m baffled that you devoted a whole article to the concept of whether our glorified bodies will have the ability to walk through walls? What most baffles me is your assuredness of the glorified body’s inability to walk through walls, yet it’s ability to walk on water? In your article you state:

    “This means that the bodies of the saints, after the resurrection, will not ordinarily walk through walls. Indeed, since the glorified bodies of the saints will still be real, physical bodies, all the necessary properties of physical bodies will remain (and bodies cannot pass through other matter). In addition to these natural properties, certain other graces will be bestowed: immortality, brightness, agility, subtlety, etc. These new properties given to the glorified bodies of the saints will allow them to walk on water, to shine brightly, to appear under various forms, to move about with great speed, etc—but this will not include the ability to walk through walls.”

    1. Follow-up question Reginaldus-
      How do you know how Jesus exited the tomb? The Scriptures claim there were no witnesses, although they are clear that the stone was rolled back by the time the women arrived. Seems a bit presumptuous to speculate, and suggests a shift from “believing in the resurrection” to “knowing what happened at the resurrection”. Speculative theology can be interesting, but it’s necessary to return to the sources for guidance. pax.

    2. Reginaldus,

      you make your case well. Let me ask a side question. I have heard that the suppliment to the summa may not have been written by Thomas, but rather a disciple. Have you heard this theory? THose who expound it conisder this section of the SUmma inferior to the main text and some do consider it too speculative in some of these various points. How would you answer this claim that THomas is not the author and that the style and contnet are different. Not saying I agree but I have heard this said.

      Also, do you take your name from Brother Reginald the secretary to Thomas? Or is your real name coincidentally Reginald. OR or you actually Brother Reginald redivivus? 🙂

    3. Reginaldus,
      I’ll admit I have not read the commentaries on this by Thomas but I disagree that the Scriptures are “clear” on this point. Your (Thomas’s?) point is based only on Matthew’s account, and Matthew is definitely the exceptional account with the women witnessing the rolling back of the stone by an angel (along with the dramatic earthquake). All of the other Gospels seem to agree that the stone was already rolled away by the time witnesses arrived…

  9. thought provoking article. i’m curious whether you intended to mean that we would resurrect at the bodily/physical age at which we die. you said that Christ resurrected at age thirty three, but bear in mind that a carpenter in the desert for thirty years is anything but youthful. he probably looked like a fifty year old by current coddled standards. i’ve heard it posited that He resurrected to a bodily age more like seventeen to twenty years old which would represent our development at roughly its most perfect and pliable. this gives clarity to instances like the road to emmaus where those who had been with Him from age thirty to thirty three did not recognize Him.

    also when discussing our ability to be anywhere anytime like Christ, remember when Christ resurrected He no longer regarded equality with the Father something not to be grasped. He took on His natural state of omnipresence, as God.

    Good article i hope you won’t mind if i take it and use it for a discussion in one of our group meetings. i’ll, of course give you due credit.

    1. Picking an ideal age to be resurrected in presents a dilemma in my mind–would people who died as children somehow be fast-forwarded to a “more ideal” age?

    2. Yes, these are all valid questions. I have also thought 33 was a little past prime. Funny that folks who lived in the 13th century and prior thought that 33 was an ideal age. As Thomas speculates, it’s not about youth per se, but that proper mean where maturity is acheived but the vigor of youth is not yet declining.

      As to the one question above, I don’t think THomas and Augustine mean to say that we will rise at the age which we die. But, rather, that we will all rise to the ideal age of 30-35. Again, this is specualtive based partly on scripture, partly on reason.

      As for infants who die, I think that this theory would apply, that they would not appear in their glorified bodies as infants, but rather as fully mature adults. Again, speculatice, in this case wholly based on reason. The reason goes like this: 1. Resurrected body is perfect. Hence it has no defects. 2. But to be immature, physically is a defect. 3. To be decrepit or experiencing the declining effects of age is also a defect. Hence, one will rise at the perfect age.

      Honestly, just in terms of physical health, 33 was not a golden time in my life. I was already experiencing weight gain, hair loss and aches and pains that made vigorous excercise difficult. Perhaps for others it was a golden time.

      1. you and me both father, i’m thirty now and those years in the 82nd airborne are making themselves known daily. i’m shootin for about age seventeen if i get a choice, and as i write that, i can’t see why i wouldn’t get a choice, it is heaven after all.

        thanks for the great reply, i too feel that they were discussing a perfect body with the combo of youthful pliability, and elderly wisdom, and perhaps not a specific age common to everybody.

  10. Thank you Magr. The Catechism of the Council of Trent treats of the qualities or our glorified bodies in much of the same detail as you have done, and the Roman Catechism goes into it a little less but the Catechism of the Catholic Church more or less skips over it. And for this reason and because the Catechism of the Catholic Church does not deal as fully as it might with the Real Presence, I find the new catechism wanting. For example, I think it extremely important that all Catholics should be taught specifically that Christ’s Presence in the Eucherist is the presence of his Glorified Body, his Spiritualized Body, though still physical in all that is implied in the term ” physical. ” Thomas explins it very well. The dogma from Trent and Vatican I, though I know it was not intended, would make one think they interpreted ” physical ” in the earthly, material since, which is wrong, certainly misleading. The ” physical ” of the glorified body is not the ” physical ” of the earthly, material body. Even Christ’s own words were clearly misleading to all except the apostles and a few disciples who were clearly being instructed or inspired by the Holy Spirit. Had I been there that day I certainly would have walked away, assuming of course that I had not also been inspired. We get almost no catechisis on the fact that it is Christ’s glorified body that is present.

    1. Um… I think I follow your basic point regarding the Catechism. It would seem that the Catechism dispensed with the more speculative things in theoloy and stuck with those things more certainly taught. That’s a judgment call and I would like to see the catechism expanded with a “for further study” section or a compnedium that would include matters such as this in more detail.

      However, I am not sure I understand what you mean in saying that Christ’s own words were “clearly misleading”

      1. I didn’t phrase that very well. Instead of saying ” clearly misleading ” I should have said ” troubling to his listeners .” And we know it was because many of his disciples walked away after hearing his dissertation. But the way he explained it, it certainly sounded like he was talking about his body and blood as his listerners saw it and experienced it. But we know that is not what he meant because we know that his Presence in the Eucharist is that of his glorified body ( i.e. his spiritualized body ). And these are two entirely different realities. I really wonder how the apostles understood his explanation. If they understood it correctly they were surely guided by the Holy Spirit. And of course, this doctrine is the most difficult to accept in the entire Doctrine of the Faith. It does help me to know that we are talking about his glorified body and not as St. Augustain said, “…not a piece of meat…” And because of the teaching of Trent and Vatican l and the theology and philosophy of Thomas we have some vague insight into what a glorified body is. I would like to know if you know of an excellent book on the Real Presence that is worth reading. I’ve read what Thomas had to say and that makes more sense to me than anything else I have read. At the end though we are dealing with a great mystery which we may not understand even in heaven.

      2. Thanks Reginaldus, I will try to get a copy through the inter library loan system or perhaps archive.org will have it.

  11. Dear Msgr,
    When I try to explain to my CCD students (12-13 old) how it is possible to lose our bodies (they return to dust) and still be resurrected in our bodies, I always compare it with a computer regenerated body. Not to be disrespectful, but I compare the Good Lord with a huge database, who has a memory of us, physically (to the greatest detail (i.e. every living cell)), mentally (our most intimate thoughts ever thought), and our soul… Just like God only has to say a word to create the universe, He merely has to think about us, how we were, and we are re-created. We, in our entirety, are all “stored” up in His memory. Maybe like our own memories of events and people, where we tend to forget the bad, and remember only the good, God can forgive/perfect our bad thoughts, cells, dark patches on our souls, and just “remember” the good and thereby create, a perfect “us”…
    Am I talking nonsense, or even worse, am I using comparisons that are not appropriate?
    In any event, it works for me.
    Thank you Msgr. Pope for all your hard work on this blog.
    Eddy B.

  12. This post reminds me of going to a classic car show. Many, perhaps most, of the vehicles were bought brand new and in “mint condition” as the saying goes. Then they were subjected to wear and tear while being passed through many owners as they fixed, patched and subjected them to even rougher usage of successive owners who acquired them because they were beaters; then…….someone someone assessed them and saw the value of their age & experience.
    They were repaired; including the use of updated mechanical and metallurgical techniques which made them, in some ways, better than new.
    When the time for assessment (judgement) comes will my Creator decide that I am worthy of a “better than new” resurrected body? I suppose that the answer to that question lies in how well I lived up to the instructions which He’s given me. I ask God to bless you for this wonderful post.

  13. the power to walk through walls

    Well, that assumes that there will be things such as walls after the resurrection, or any such properties that are similar to the present physical world. But that will not necessarily be the case. Rather, this world too will pass away.

    If scripture and Tradition are rather sparse on the nature of the glorified resurrected body, it is even more sparse on the nature of the New Jerusalem, that is, the “world” that will exist after this present universe is gone. True, the Book of Revelation uses certain familiar imagery to describe it, but it would hardly be possible for it to use undescribable terms even to describe the undescribable.

    However, given that the next phase of existence will be eternal, that would suggest that the “New Jerusalem” would lack the physicality of the present world, because that physicality is necessarily bound to the temporal, that is, it is bound to linear time. The eternal, on the other hand, is outside of time — and a good thing too, as Pope Benedict points out in Spe Salvi, since to be forced to live in time forever would not be a blessing, but a curse, even if it was a paradise. And, lacking such physicality as exists now, “walking through walls” would hardly seem to present much of a problem.

  14. So, I’m a heretic now, am I?

    Please cite to me where the Magisterium has ever definitively stated the nature of things (not people) after this world passes away. And just exactly how would belief in that be required for one’s salvation?

    The next world will be what it will be. None of us have been there and come back to tell us about it. Even Jesus did not do that. Even the Book of Revelation does not speak of it in express, literal terms.

    Don’t be so quick to throw that word heresy around. Your flippant use of it has destroyed any credibility you have, especially coming from a priest.

  15. the saints in heaven are completely outside of time

    That we here on earth, in time, are in communion with the saints would indicate that they do still maintain some connection with the temporal, even though they are in eternity, in the same way that God is eternal and, yet, interacts with His temporal creation. It is not a matter of either/or, but both/and.

    In short, it is a mystery. And one should be humble enough to respect the mysteries of the faith, and not go around making definitive proclaimations about them.

    1. I would remind you, Bender, of an earlier discusson had on this same blog site about in what sense the blessed have eternal life (see http://blog.adw.org/2010/05/eternity-is-not-a-long-time-it-is-all-time/). You participated in that discussion.

      The blessed share in the eternity of God only in a secondary, incomplete sense. They “receive immutability from…[God],”, as Aquinas explains, only “in respect to the operation [secundum operationem]”of their intellects (Summa theologiae, Ia, q. 10, a. 3). They do not themselves become eternal in their nature; for, as Reginaldus has alluded to, they do cease to be human, notwithstanding the beatific vision.

      1. The final phrases of my comment of November 9, 2010 at 10:53 am should, of course, read “they do not cease to be human, etc. Perhaps this comment could be corrected before posted, if you please.

      2. I just happened upon this looking for something else, but for the record — St. Thomas Aquinas is NOT the Magisterium, notwithstanding the unalterable belief of some that he is totally infallible in everything he ever wrote.

        1. I agree with your observation here Bender. Clearly Thomas is an important reference but he is not, as you say, the magisterium. I think the problem I most frequently encounter in terms of scholasticism is not the method, but is the modern disciples of the method. In effect I am concerned that some have things a little TOO WELL figured out, wanting to have every aspect of what is fundamentally a mystery, nailed down exactly. The fact is that there are just a lot a of things we don’t know, or cannot say for sure. I don’t object to the data of scholasticism being part of the discussion, but that it is the last word on the matter is an annoying trait that some bring to matters, for the Church permits a wider range of views. I suspect that some of the modern adherents of the method are in reaction to a time, from which we are emerging, where many things seemed up for grabs and uncertainty was all around. One response to this is to become absolutely certain, and scholasticism would seem to provide a convenient vehicle. But what is lost by some is the notion that even a lot of the scholastic method engages in speculative theology. Speculative theology of course presupposes a lot and though it proceeds inexorably to a conclusion, a good scholastic admits that the premises are sometimes speculative, hence the conclusions are also speculative. In the end, certainty is reserved for some things defined by the Church, but mystery and unrevealed things are an essential part of walking by faith.

  16. Regarding the resurrected body as being a spiritual body and not physical would suggest that we will be according to God’s image of us and not necessarily what we or others would have us appear as. God will decide our appearance as He sees fitting our purified being and what age we might appear would be of His design. Although we may occupy some area of visibility or illumined bodily field of force, I can’t imagine that we could have physical sensations since these are the things that lead to man’s suffering and vice and were by design for existence and survival in the physical realm of God’s plan of creation. In the spiritual body we are relieved of such burdens and experience the glory of God’s love and will, not an entrapment of incidental cenarios engaged by our willful situatutions of interactions with other beings converging upon the scene. I can’t imagine everyone walking around smiling , euphorically staring at each other or making plans to do something in eternity. It will be a glorious relationship of God as Trinity sharing this experience with each ressurected body and soul in indescribable beauity and light without need of effort of speaking yet conversing though a never ending peace of expressed fulfilling love. Amen.

  17. I do think the opinion you have given is a material heresy

    Perhaps I was a bit touchy myself, and I accept your explanation and apology. But not to be argumentative, to keep the record straight, I was not expressing an opinion, I was asking questions and thinking out loud, not coming to any firm conclusions other than I don’t think that we can come to any firm conclusions.

    My point is merely that the new world, as you say, will be recreated — it will be changed — just exactly how is unknown. Because it is unknown, we can only speculate — ask questions and think out loud — and it is not totally certain that the new world will have the same characteristics as what we have and know now. Indeed, there are indications that it is beyond our imagination.

    “CCC 1027 This mystery of blessed communion with God and all who are in Christ is beyond all understanding and description. Scripture speaks of it in images: life, light, peace, wedding feast, wine of the kingdom, the Father’s house, the heavenly Jerusalem, paradise: ‘no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him.'”
    “CCC 1048 (quoting Gaudium et Spes 39) We know neither the moment of the consummation of the earth and of man, nor the way in which the universe will be transformed.

    Because it is beyond understanding (for now) and description, because it is beyond anything that the heart of man has conceived, that would seem to mean that it will be substantively different, and not simply qualitatively “better.” That is, it will not be as the Koran would have it, where the Muslims in heaven are supposed to have a life much like life is now, only more luxurious. Rather, it would seem that it would be vastly different, perhaps not subject to the same laws of physics, gravitation, etc., including the atomic bonds between molecules, as in the molecules that make up a wall, as well as including the law of time, which is, by definition, a measure of changes in the physical, material universe.

    Jesus saying that if you had enough faith, you could tell a mountain to move and it would move, would seem to indicate that, in our glorified state, our grace-filled state, which would necessarily have sufficient faith, the physical laws of mountains doing what they want, rather than what we want, would no longer apply.

    But, again, this is all out-loud thinking and speculation. We’ll find out for sure when we get there (God willing (and us too)).

  18. I can further add that Jesus said we will be like the ‘angels of heaven’, and if we check out the Book of Revelation we can see what the angels are like. Even Raphael in the Book of Tobit gives us a glimpse of what angels are capable of doing.
    So we all know what we will be like, now we can know what our status will be when Jesus explained that whoever keeps the law of Moses will be considered great in the Kingdom of Heaven and whoever doesn’t keep the law of Moses will be considered the least in the Kingdom of Heaven.
    What a great Master we have for revealing these heavenly things to us.

  19. I really enjoyed the book, Christ, Life of the Soul, by Bl. Columba Marmion. His gentle wording and explanation of our afterlife summarized things very well for me. I’ve read many doctrinal and “earthly” (There Is a River, by Edgar Casey) explanations, but none so resonates with my longings as Marmion’s work.

  20. Great article, Monsignor. I certainly don’t want to throw a damper on this discussion, and maybe this point was made, but I missed it: Where the soul goes, so goes the body. If our soul is in hell at the final resurrection, isn’t it true that our body will go to hell, and physically experience the horrors of that place? I think that we should all consider this as we live our lives, and it is something that; unfortunately, has been glossed over by priests and deacons in their homilies for a long time.

    Deacon Glen

  21. I argued with you once before about the Basilica in Washington, DC. I am writing this time to say GREAT WORK!

    I do have one question, just clarification regarding Impassability and quality. If the body is impassable, then perhaps it would not need to be of a particular age in mortal life in order to be considered healthy. It seems that growth and decay become moot issues. In whatever age (epoch, era) the summit of our spiritual perfection would be also our most lively self-projection.

    So, could I speculate that the age of our spiritual perfection is the age of the body which we receive in glory?

    Might I also speculate that we will be what we “could have have been”, that is, all of our fullest potentiality. This might mean that while in our earthly life, we never reached our fullest potentiality beause of sin or because we were stopped short by violence or illness, we might attain that perfection for which we were deemed originally.

    So, for example, A five year old child who died of leukemia, might inherit a body that is something akin to 65 years old because perhaps, in God’s wisdom, well, whatever, just “In God’s wisdom.”

    I like that you wrote, there is a place where we just have to say “I don’t need to know this.” We can just rest in faith and say, “it’s gonna be good!”

  22. My best man who recently passed away a couple of years ago had inflamation of the nervous linings. He’s not even Catholic but his morals were. All his life he walked like an invalid and was quite stout. Long story short, I saw pictures of him during his wake. A year after that, I had a dream about a procession or parade and a young thin Chinese man was calling me to join in. There was something familiar with this person but I just can’t tell what it was. I woke up pensive but assured. Then, I recalled the pictures during the wake; it looked like my buddy during his younger years. Perhaps, it was his way of telling me that he made it in heaven. ( I did try to bring him to the Lord before. )

  23. My wife recently died. She lead an exemplary life in all ways. She was very close to Mary and God himself. I believe that she went directly to Heaven. But I worry. I very diligently and lovingly cared for her every worldly need as best I could, but how can I know that she is now OK? I understand that my faith should be enough, but how do I know. For over 50 years I never left her well being to chance – I made sure she was OK.
    I have been praying fervently that God will let her soul visit me and confirm where she is. Is it right for me to pray for that? Because of the speed of her death, I didn’t have the chance to say goodbye until we come together again in heaven souls first and then glorified bodies. I want to be able to tell her that. Is it OK for me to ask for these things and to ask her to ask the Lord to let her come to me?

    1. You can’t really know in the way the flesh wants to know, usually by sight. You can know by faith, but in the end we are called to trust in God’s promises. We walk by faith and not by sight. Hence I would not ask for the visit per se. Perhaps it is best to ask for stronger faith and for the grace to let faith be enough. I am sorry for your loss. Such things as this are very difficult to endure but surely part of our passage through this valley of tears are those painful goodbyes. One day we shall attain to that heaven where goodbyes are no more.

  24. Yes – Thank you. I guess I know those things and have gained more confidence as time goes by and certain “coincidences” have encouraged me to be confident that she is with Him. But I have been encouraged to ask by the gospel accounts of Martha’s and Mary’s exchange with Jesus and His raising of Lazarus (I am not asking for that), and the woman that sought satisfaction from the bad judge (her persistance was applauded by Jesus and He encouraged us to be persistent in what we ask).
    On the contrary is Jesus saying in Mk 11:23-24. – …”whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be given to you’. This particularly has given me more confidence, but I don’t know how to distinguish this from old fashioned ‘wishful thinking’.

  25. I did as you suggested and have since come to the sure confidence that she is in Heaven with Him and am at peace with that knowledge. She is in His infinitely good and loving care and He will hold her close to Him. I recently completed a Plenary Indulgence on her behalf and at the completion of that all vestiges of concern left me. Thank you.

  26. You guys are awesome. I came here interested in St. Thomas’s ideas of subtlety, agilty and luminesence as spoken of on Fr. Barron’s “Catholicisim” series and have found a real thread of ideas that you’ve been willing to share. I’m just a rookie, but I believe, God willing, our bodies will be ressurected, glorified and on fire with the love of God. The devil cannot stop Him from doing what He wills. So, I’m learning to not be afraid and to look forward with eagerness and anticipation to the glory that will surround us in heaven. WHether we’ll be able to walk through walls or not. I don’t know, but in heaven what will those walls be composed of? Truth. I’ve heard it here. Thank you all. God bless you all. Peace.

  27. i think either suggestions could be right about the resurrected bodies. It could be true that Jesus did those things because of his divine hood, and or it could be properties of the first-fruits of Christ also. we must remember that the glorified body has not fully been revealed to us; if every aspect of it where, then we would not be super excited about it. but what we do know is that we will rise in a manner beyond what we thought possible. our resurrection is the FINAL Glory we will have forever and ever, surely we must have a body capable of doing heavenly things. PLEASE REMEMBER THIS VERSE: ” Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, and heart has not conceived the things God has promised to those who love him. ” 1 Corinthians 2:9

    Blessings to you all, for you are all Children of the Most High.
    may the Lord, Jesus Christ be with you until his second coming.

    – Marquis E. Oliver
    (Fellow believer in Christ)

Comments are closed.