Physical sight in the afterlife

Dear all;

I had a random thought about experience after death.

This isn’t so much about whether we ‘see God’; I suspect that we will be in His presence, and ‘behold’ God, which is different.

If we are in purgatory, or later, heaven, how is it that we will ‘see’? Will we ‘see’ our loved ones again, or will we be blind?

I understand references that suggest we will see the face of God; but is there any guidance given to help us understand what the nature of this seeing will be, since we will have left our body on earth?


There is a way of “knowing” that is not limited to our sense of sight. St. Teresa spoke about “knowing” when certain saints were in her presence, and also Our Lord Himself - not by sight, but by spiritual communication that is more sure than vision. I believe it will be something like that in the after-life, that we will communicate spiritually without speech or sight, but by transference of thought, etc.

This would come under her teaching of “intellectual” visions, which is hard for us to understand, since we are soul and body and depend on our senses. On a rare occasion, spiritual people are gifted with this type of communication from heaven.

Remember, our ultimate destiny is to be reunited with our bodies for all eternity (after the general resurrection and judgement). We won’t have our full powers or beatitude until we are fully ourselves, with both body and soul. In the meanwhile, we won’t have physical sight of the other departed spirits, who won’t have bodies to be seen physically anyhow. We’ll have some sort of recognition, where we will know them, and we will be able to “see” what is going on here on Earth, but, without eyes, we won’t have physical sight the way we currently (and ultimately) will.

This is absolutely correct.

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood. (1 Corinthians 13:12)

People often talk about our souls in heaven for eternity but forget about the resurrection of the dead. We profess belief in the “life of the world to come” in the Creed at Mass. That is when we shall see face to face.


How about we work on getting there and finding out? :smiley:

Seriously, though. As the Bible says “Eye has not seen, ear has not heard.” We can contemplate Heaven in various ways, but we’ll never truly KNOW until we actually get there.

Your soul has a personality that is as recognizable as you are now.


Thanks for the very good answers!

I don’t know much about the general resurrection… yet!

Our earthly bodies will be resurrected from the dust?

I’ll add this- but not to push it in an untoward direction; What can be made of ghosts and spirits? I haven’t personally ‘seen a ghost’; but I am aware of the Church’s activities in these areas; certainly there is no denying that it is possible (but not right) for us to contact spirits. And in times where a priest is ‘called in’ for some supernatural disturbance, the spirit seems to ‘see’ and communicate.

I have family members who have seen ghosts while I was present. In my old school my now wife saw the ghost of a past headmaster. Having never seen an image of this man before, she described him oerfectly, and I then presented her a picture of him- a master at the school in the 1920’s. Needless to say she went pale!

In this instance the spirit was staring right at her, implying sight.

At death when the soul leaves the body, the soul possesses memory intellect and will fully functional. Otherwise how could we understand and experience the afterlife, either good or bad depending on the trajectory one is going in? Think of Jesus telling the story of Lazarus and the rich man. Obviously “sight” is described in the story, individual people are seen in spirit and recognized, we’re not sure how that happens. Anymore than how does Peter at the transfiguration of Jesus see and recognize Moses and Eli′jah who are in spirit form?

In the afterlife, as far as faith hope and love which we are to have in this life, as Paul says only love remains. Faith and hope are no longer needed for we see everything as they are. No need anymore for faith and hope.

Those in heaven see God as He is. (Father Son and HS). And they understand. They see Mary, the apostles, the saints, the angels etc etc etc.

At the end of the world, those in heaven will be joined with their resurrected body in heaven. Those in hell will receive their resurrected body in hell. Purgatory ceases to exist.

Thank you for your reply, Steve.

Here St. Thomas addresses the question of whether we will see God with bodily eyes, answering in the negative.

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