Heaven, Hell, and The Final Judgment


I’m reading the “Catechism of the Catholic Church” and “The Idiot’s Guide to the Catechism of the Catholic Church” and I wasn’t able to get an answer to my question.

Section 1023 speaks specifically about those who die in a state of grace and do not need purification will be joined with God and the Angels in Heaven. Basically, if we die before the Second Coming, we are assured Heaven.

What I’m confused about is where the Final (Last) Judgment comes into play. Section 1038 speaks about how all the dead, both the just and the unjust, will hear the Son of Man’s voice and those who have done good will come to the resurrection of life and those who have done evil to judgment.

So let me try and explain why I am confused. When we die, and if we die in a state of grace, do we immediately go to Heaven, and then pass through the final judgment later on? This sounds like it is a formality then. Or when we die, do we simply not know we are dead, simply “asleep” until the final judgment and upon this time “wake” (but time as we know it simply passed by in an instant) and then go to Heaven?

The Idiot’s Guide doesn’t do any justice to the explanation either. It states that at the very moment of our death, we enter into life eternal, whether that be heaven, hell or purgatory. So to me, this seems as though the moment we die, the judgment has been made. So where does the final judgment come into play?

Thank you.



Right now when people die and go to heaven, it is only their souls. Their judgment of whether they go to heaven or hell or purgatory takes place right after death. But at the end of the world their bodies will be raised in glory and their souls will be reunited with their body, and they will reign body and soul forever.


If you die immediately after being baptised you go straight to Heaven.
If you do not die immediately after baptism but die in a state of grace you will be saved and will either go straight to Heaven or more likely Purgatory first then Heaven.

As for the judgements:


CCC 1021 Death puts an end to human life as the time open to either accepting or rejecting the divine grace manifested in Christ.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.

CCC 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 purification or immediately, – or immediate and everlasting damnation.

At the evening of life, we shall be judged on our love.


CCC 1038 The resurrection of all the dead, “of both the just and the unjust,” 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.” 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.”

CCC 1039 In the presence of Christ, who is Truth itself, the truth of each man’s relationship with God will be laid bare. The Last Judgment will reveal even to its furthest consequences the good each person has done or failed to do during his earthly life:

All that the wicked do is recorded, and they do not know. When “our God comes, he does not keep silence.”. . . he will turn towards those at his left hand: . . . “I placed my poor little ones on earth for you. I as their head was seated in heaven at the right hand of my Father - but on earth my members were suffering, my members on earth were in need. If you gave anything to my members, what you gave would reach their Head. Would that you had known that my little ones were in need when I placed them on earth for you and appointed them your stewards to bring your good works into my treasury. But you have placed nothing in their hands; therefore you have found nothing in my presence.”

CCC 1040 The Last Judgment will come when Christ returns in glory. Only the Father knows the day and the hour; only he determines the moment of its coming. Then through his Son Jesus Christ he will pronounce the final word on all history. We shall know the ultimate meaning of the whole work of creation and of the entire economy of salvation and understand the marvelous ways by which his Providence led everything towards its final end. The Last Judgment will reveal that God’s justice triumphs over all the injustices committed by his creatures and that God’s love is stronger than death.

CCC 1041 The message of the Last Judgment calls men to conversion while God is still giving them “the acceptable time, . . . the day of salvation.” It inspires a holy fear of God and commits them to the justice of the Kingdom of God. It proclaims the “blessed hope” of the Lord’s return, when he will come “to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at in all who have believed.”


The Final Judgment differs from the particular judgment in two ways:

At the Final Judgment we will be present both body and soul due to the resurrection of the dead from all time. Human beings are by nature comprised of both body and soul and it is in body and soul they will spend eternity.

At the Final Judgment God will not only make known to us our transgressions and achievements, and His judgment of them, but will make these things known to everyone. That is, you will stand before both God AND Man.



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