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Dear Father Angelo,

I would like you to enlighten me on the dogma of faith of the resurrection of the body, which, due to my limited theological culture, is for me a mysterious concept.

First of all, I would like to know if we can find common points between the resurrection of the flesh and the belief in reincarnation that other religions profess.

I would then like to understand the meaning of this resurrection: if the souls that have been saved will be in paradise, at the end of time, and  enjoy the beatific vision of God, why should they regain a body? A body that in earthly life was only a burden for them and only hindered them on the path to salvation. Simply put: what does a soul in heaven do with a body?

I thank you for your attention and greet you cordially.

Michael

Priest’s answer

Dear Michael,

1. There is an enormous difference between the resurrection of the flesh and the belief in reincarnation.

The resurrection of the flesh consists in taking on a spiritual body, as emerges from the first letter to the Corinthians: “It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual one” (1 Cor 15.44).

Reincarnation, on the other hand, always consists in getting back the animal body.

2. Everybody will be resurrected at the end of the world, as Our Lord said: “Do not be amazed at this, because the hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and will come out, those who have done good deeds to the resurrection of life, but those who have done wicked deeds to the resurrection of condemnation” (Jn 5:28-29).

Those who are resurrected for a resurrection of life will take a glorious body, similar to that of Jesus at the moment of the transfiguration and also similar to the one he showed in the Apocalypse when he revealed himself to Saint John: “His face shone like the sun at its brightest” (Rev 1:16).

Here too we note another absolutely essential difference compared to reincarnation.

Only participation in the resurrection of Christ can give us an idea of what it means to resurrect the dead.

3. Why the resurrection of the bodies?

Because man is not only soul, but he is soul and body.

When the body dies, the person also dies.

This is why we speak of the souls of the deceased and not of the persons of the deceased.

4. Furthermore, the body is not a burden, as Plato might have thought.

But it is that reality that allows us to be sanctified through the sacraments.

It is through the body that we live in dedication to ourselves and others.

It is through the body that we commit sins, but it is also through the body that we do penance and atone for them.

It is through the body that we grow in love for God and for others.

5. Finally, the awareness that the body will be resurrected helps to treat it with respect both in life and in death.

6. However, you ask what bliss is added to the soul with the resurrection of the body if it is already perfectly happy because it is in paradise and enjoys communion with God and the saints.

Well, resurrection of the body adds a bliss that theologians call accidental compared to that which the soul already enjoys, the essential bliss, which consists in the beatific vision.

The soul separated from the body is somehow incomplete because the function of the soul is precisely that of being the vital principle of the body. He wants to vitalize it.

With the resurrection of the body, the essential bliss of the soul is not increased, but is dilated, as if by extension.

And he feels a new well-being because his tension towards the body finally finds satisfaction.

7. For this reason, we praise God also for the resurrection of the body because it will give us full satisfaction.

Yes, God makes everything perfect.

With the hope of finding ourselves in Heaven with this body of ours, made a participant in the glory of the risen Lord, I bless you and remember you in prayer.

Father Angelo