For each and every person, there will come a time when this body of ours will no longer exist. There will come a time when our bodies will no longer respond to the life-giving energy that our souls are pouring into it. This will be the moment of our death. So, what happens to our soul at that moment. Remember, each of our souls where created by God. The soul did not begin from the body, so it does not die with the body. God made the soul to be eternal.
While the body is alive, the soul (which is totally spirit) must rely on the body and its senses to gather information. The very nature of the spirit is to know. But in the next life, there will be totally different conditions.
There are three possible states of being that our souls go to at death. They are…Hell, Purgatory or Heaven. What determines where our soul goes is by what we loved during our life on earth. St. Augustine once wrote, “wherever it is that I go, my love is what takes me there.” By the end of our lives, our free will would have already made the choice. Our love of God takes us to God, or our total love of self takes us to a separation of God.
Some would say, if God is “love,” then why would He allow someone to enter hell? Their feeling would be that if hell exists, then God is not love. Conversely, if God is love, then hell doesn’t exist. Well, for those people who do not believe there really is a hell, all we have to do is look to what Jesus said about it. Just in St. Matthew’s Gospel account of the “Sermon on the Mount” alone, Jesus speaks and warns his audience of hell at least five times.
So, what do we know of hell? First of all, we know that it actually exists. It was because of Satan and his fellow angels who followed him in rebelling against God. We know it is a place of suffering and that it is eternal. The word “fire” is used more than once by our Lord to describe it. And because it is a place of great suffering, fire is a word that relates to us one of the worse sufferings we could encounter on earth.
If someone chooses the sin of a perverted love of self, so much so that he crowds out the love of God to the point of almost a hatred, then he has chosen separation from God. Ending up in hell would mean the eternal separation from God. It is called the pain of loss. This lost soul freely chose self, and because of that he will be deprived of God for all eternity, and that is the essential pain.
At the end of life the soul of a person may have chosen to love God, but does not go directly to the presence of God. The soul is in sanctifying grace (in right relationship with God), but is still not fully whole. In other words, we still may have small things that we cling to that may be classified as still a defect of love’s purity. In the book of Revelation, we find that nothing unclean can enter heaven, “But nothing unclean shall enter it, nor any one who practices abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life (Rev 21:27).”
Jesus says, “You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect (Matt 5:48).” So, there is a place where an imperfect soul must go to be purified of any imperfection, no matter how small. The Catechism gives an excellent definition of this place we call purgatory, “All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven (CCC 1030).”
For more on purgatory: https://renewedhopeministry.com/2013/06/09/does-purgatory-really-exist/
Once a soul is perfect, whether at death or after a pit stop in purgatory, it goes directly to God. We will enter the Beatific Vision and see the face of our Father. St. John says, “we will see him as he is.” We shall see God as he is, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We will see the distinctness of the three persons, even though it will still be a mystery.
In heaven our soul will encounter God intellectually. At this point the soul will become more fully itself and seek to intensify itself to the fullness of God, where we will have the heart of happiness.
Until next time, God bless.