Ask Father: What happens to a soul in Heaven after Final Judgement? Our body and soul are reunited but are there other changes?
Dear friend in Christ,
Fun question. First, here is a refresher on Particular and Final Judgement:
When we die, as soon as the soul has left the body, we will stand before the Throne of Almighty God to receive our Particular Judgment. If we have learned to love perfectly in this life, we will enter Heaven right away. If we died in a state of friendship with God but have not yet learned to love perfectly (we still have some selfishness or are still attached to things which are not God) we will go to Purgatory for a period of temporary atonement before going to Heaven. If we died in a state of mortal sin (in which we have voluntarily separated ourselves from God through serious sin), we will spend eternity in Hell.
God does not send people to Heaven, Hell or Purgatory. We send ourselves there. We get to choose where we spend eternity. The Particular Judgement is the moment when God ratifies the decision we have made.
The Final Judgement will occur at the end of time. Jesus speaks frequently about this in the Gospels. He will come back to earth (also known as the Second Coming) to judge every human being who ever lived live all at the same time. At that time, we will all see how the various sufferings and difficulties of our life we actually part of God’s bigger plan and how we cooperated or failed to cooperate with it. Everything will be revealed during the Final Judgement: every sin we have committed, every good deed, every secret thought we have had will be made public for all to see.
So, what happens after that for those who chose to go to Heaven?
Well, we can’t say exactly what happens because “eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it even dawned in the hearts of man what God has prepared for those who love him.” (1st Corinthians 2:9)
The Catechism describes Heaven as “the ultimate end and fulfillment of the deepest human longings the state of supreme, definitive happiness.” (1024) In Heaven, we learn our ‘true identity and our own name.’ (1025) How cool!
Part of the fun and mystery of longing for Heaven is pondering what it will be like! The main glory of Heaven is beholding God face to face. You get to explore Him and since God is infinite, you will never run out of new things to discover. Heaven is also social and quite like a celebration or party. That’s why Jesus often refers to Heaven as ‘the banquet’ or ‘the feast.’