Time in the afterlife

The Church teaches that God exists outside of time (temporal time). That means that those who have died to be with Him are outside of time.

The Church also teaches that the dead will be reunited with their bodies someday. This brings up a perceived conflict in the teaching. Since those who have died are still tied to time in some way (because they await their resurrected bodies), we can’t really say that they are outside of time, right?

Perhaps this comment from Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict) on Purgatory helps?*“The transforming ‘moment’ of this encounter cannot be quantified by the measurements of earthly time. It is, indeed, not eternal but a transition, and yet trying to qualify it as of ‘short’ or ‘long’ duration on the basis of temporal measurements derived from physics would be naive and unproductive. The ‘temporal measure’ of this encounter lies in the unsoundable depths of existence, in a passing-over where we are burned ere we are transformed. To measure such Existenzzeit, such an ‘existential time,’ in terms of the time of this world would be to ignore the specificity of the human spirit in its simultaneous relationship with, and differentation from, the world.” (Eschatology, p. 230)*Regarding those who are beyond Purgatory, it is unclear exactly how things work. You are suggesting they are not outside of time because they “await”, which is a term suggesting “time,” correct? As alluded to by Cardinal Ratzinger, we cannot fully understand “temporal measure” in terms of earthly time. There may be “sequence” of some kind, such as how a soul will first die, pass through purgation, face God, reunite with body, and this will occur in a way foreign to earthly time. At this stage in Church doctrine, I do not believe any clearly defined revelation has been given.

Well you wanna know why? Because when you die you are like you are in a sleep. The dead in Christ will rise when he comes again.

What a load of rubbish!!

Hmmm – I’m still wondering about all this. Edie thinks that no one is in heaven (not a Christian teaching), so that’s no help.

Marco’s answer is a little better. But there’s still a disconnect – I agree that beyond death, we can’t really speak of temporal time. But let me phrase it this way. Do those in heaven have their physical bodies now? Will they have them at the end of time? If the answers are no and yes, respectively, then somewhere in there they are still linked with time.

I guess the best answer is that we just don’t know.

Ok now I didnt say nobody was in heaven. Some people from Bible times went to heaven. When you die, its like you are in a sleep until Jesus’s return. The angels and God are in heaven.

And for the person who said my beliefs are “rubbish”, that was not very polite.

OK – so Elijah and Moses are in heaven (because of the Transfiguration). Maybe I’m forgetting others… but that’s where you draw the line?

What about the Good Thief? He was promised to be in paradise on that same day. There’s also the story of the beggar who is in Abraham’s bosom (Luke 16:19-31).

Are you of the opinion that “paradise” is not the same as “heaven”?

The thief or convict that was on the cross is not in heaven yet. The Bible says verily verily I say to you today, you will be with me in heaven. If Jesus went to heaven on that day (Saturday), then he would not have had to rise on Sunday because he would have already been in heaven.

First of all, Jesus died on a Friday, not Saturday! (Unless this is a Seventh Day Adventist thing.)

Second, the act of Jesus’s body resurrecting on Earth does not have to correspond with the exact time He went to heaven. He could have been tooling around in heaven for two days and then come back to the tomb to reunite with His body. (Actually, this kinda gets back to my original post.)

Third, you wrote that “the Bible says verily verily I say to you today, you will be with me in heaven.” Why did you add that comma after “today”? Was it to separate the words Jesus spoke from the action of going to heaven (implying that it will not happen on the day that the words were spoken)?

You got some 'splainin to do

We are both body and soul. The soul can exist without the body and does so outside of time after the body dies. You could say we are embodied souls now, we are apart for a time and then reunited with our bodies in then end.

ncgolf –

Yes, I completely agree. So if the body and soul are apart for a time, then the soul in heaven is somehow linked with time.
So I guess my dilemma was that when we die we are outside of time, but we are still linked with time. Sounds contradictory!

Correct

The Church also teaches that the dead will be reunited with their bodies someday.

False. The reunion with our bodies can occur outside of time and therefore it doesnt happen “someday”. That’s like saying “We will see God face to face someday” It doesnt truly mean that we will see God within the confines of time and space. The same is true when we are reunited with our bodies…

This brings up a perceived conflict in the teaching. Since those who have died are still tied to time in some way (because they await their resurrected bodies), we can’t really say that they are outside of time, right?

I would say wrong because your premise that “waiting implies time” is invalid in eternity.

blessings!

How so? The soul is not lacking anything … it is not wanting so how does it remain linked in time?

Philthy – You wrote that "the reunion with our bodies can occur outside of time and therefore it doesnt happen “someday.” Are you saying that those in heaven are currently reunited with their bodies? That would mean that the end of time has arrived.

Or are you just saying that the whole premise of the question is wrong?

When I’m praying to St. Therese for intercession, are you guys saying that she is already reunited with her body?

surritter,

I’m not sure your conclusion follows necessarily from your premise. Can you show where the Church teaches that those who have died and are with God are outside of time the way God is outside of time?

VC

Not necessarily.

There’s no conflict, because there’s no teaching that those in heaven are outside of time.

And, as you point out, the evidence seems to indicate that they are not outside of time.

Sorry he did die on Friday. My mistake. But I know for a fact he was not in heaven for the two days. He couldnt be because in the Bible when Mary went to touch him when he had risen he said do not touch me. I have not yet assended to my father.

This says that he had not been to heaven yet so neither had the thief, showing that he didnt go to heaven when he died.

Well, I guess Neophyte and Verbum set me straight. The saints are with God but not yet liberated from time. They await a new Heaven and a new Earth. My erroneous assumption was the cause of my dilemma!

Edie, Catholics believe that Jesus opened the gates of heaven when He died. And yes, He did not ascend to the Father until 40 days after the resurrection, but that does not preclude that He went there while His body was in the tomb.

Verbum Caro and Neophyte,

You both have said that my OP was on shaky ground because the saints don’t necessarily live outside of time yet. But in further research, I found this in the Catechism, para. 1023 (actually taken from Benedictus Deus by Benedict XII):
“The souls of all the saints…already before they take up their bodies again and before the general judgment…have been, are and will be in heaven, in the heavenly Kingdom and celestial paradise with Christ…”
Doesn’t that imply that those souls have transcended time since they are in heaven? Maybe not, but I’ve always thought that when we see God face to face, we will have been freed from everything temporal, including calendars.

Are we sure those in Heaven are actually outside time, even if we know God himself is?

I am speaking off the top of my head here, but my inclination would be to say they are in some way in time, though likely not the same kind of time as those on Earth.

OTOH, since all times, including the Resurrection of the dead and the end of time, exist now for God, could we not in a sense say these things are already accomplished?

But it seems to me that this is a question where we can speculate, but perhaps are not capable of having a definitive answer.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.