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Hello Father Angelo,

The Scriptures tell us that Christ ascended into Heaven in the flesh and in the spirit, now my question is: where does Christ’s Body lay?

When Christ rose and appeared to the Apostles, he ate and drank with them to demonstrate that he wasn’t a ghost, as ghosts do not eat nor drink. He, therefore, proved he had risen in  the flesh. As mortal beings, we know the vicissitudes of the human body very well and from this perspective, where should we think Christ’s body lay?

Where exactly in Heaven, in which dimension may It exist (and what kind of existence are we talking about), if the human body is fit to live only on this planet and,  besides, in an extremely small part of it?

If It is in a spiritual place, how can a real body inhabit an immaterial place?

The Virgin Mary also ascended into Heaven in her body and spirit, and here my question arises again with major cogence: Mary didn’t ascend to Heaven after the resurrection but through “Dormitio Virginis[1]”, therefore not like Christ in the form of a divine being consubstantial to the Father but as a human being; yet, a very special human being as Christ’s Mother, sine labe concepite[2], sincethe beginning of time, but still having an earthly human body, not fit to an extraterrestrial existence and much less to sidereal heavens.

Pope Ratzinger recently explained during a lectio divina that when you pray the Lord’s Prayer and say “… who art in Heaven”, you have to understand “Heaven” as “among the righteous”. In other words, “Our Father who art among the righteous” basically replaces the “place” with the “inhabitants of the place”.

As a result, we have to interpret Christ and the Virgin Mary’s ascension to Heaven in body and spirit as reaching an undefined and undefinable place… where all the righteous are?

Right… but where?


Priest’s answer

Dear Emanuele,

1. The French Dominicans wrote in a nice synthesis of theology that was published in the 50s under the title “Initiation Théologique[3]”:

“Where did Christ rise?” The answer was very simple for the ancients because their cosmology was simple. They imagined the earth as totally flat, lying on the «waters below» and supporting through its highest mounts – its “Pillars of Hercules”- the firmament and the waters above.

Christ therefore would have risen into heaven, that is above the highest waters, in the abode which the Greeks assigned to the Olympian gods.

Giotto,still  in the 13th century, painted an ascension where you can see Christ who emerges from the heavenly waters at the end of his ascensional journey.

However, this representation has become unacceptable to us, as we have a better, though still imperfect, understanding of the universe.

The earth is round and what we actually call “sky” is above and below, on the right and on the left.

We are resigned to know no more than this; it is enough for us to t believe in the reality of the resurrection: the living Christ..

After all, we barely care about the place where he is, because on one hand we know that, because of his divinity, he is always spiritually present among us: «And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age» (Matthew 28:20), and on the other hand that Christ, according to his human nature, knows each one of us by name and sees our deepest thoughts.

The distance doesn’t create any obstacle to the interior knowledge that Christ has of us, nor to his love for us. It happens as if one person followed another at any moment in another continent through thought transmission.

Christ penetrates into the depth of our spirit and heart at any moment and, for each one of us, intercedes on behalf of his Father.

It’s exactly this possible «contact» with the other souls, established through his intelligence and love, that enables him to be the «tool which his Father applies to our sanctification» (Iniziazione teologica, vol. IV, Morcelliana, 186-187).

2.     The Catechism of the Catholic Church claims that “the authentic and real body” of the resurrected Christ “owns the new properties of a glorious body” (CCC 645).

With “Glorious” it is meant at least that it is a “spiritual” body, as Saint Paul says in his first letter to the Corinthians, Chapter 15: “it is raised a spiritual body” (1 Corinthians 15,44).

3.     It’s exactly by virtue of this that the Catechism of the Catholic Church says that the glorious body of Christ “is no longer situated in space and time” and “his humanity can no longer be withheld on earth” (CCC 645).

Christ’s humanity (body and soul) with his resurrection “belongs to the divine domain of the Father” (CCC 645), in other words, he lives in God.

Now,God is in heaven, on earth, in every place because He is the Infinite.

For this reason, He is close to us, He stands next to us.

At the same time, He trascendsheaven, earth and every place. Thus, he is waiting for us to enter his glorious kingdom, which doesn’t have the features of this world.

4.     The sacred text tells that Jesus “he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight” (Act 1:9).

The uprising was necessary for the Apostles to show that Christ with his glorious human nature joined in God.

The cloud represents God’s majesty.

5.     Also the Virgin Mary ascended into Heaven, and like Christ without a material body but with a transfigured, glorious, spiritual one.

In conclusion, I wish you to ascend, when God wants, to a place prepared by Jesus for you and in the meantime I will  remember you in my prayers and bless you.

Father Angelo

Translated by Irene Visciano

[1] T.n. Dormition of the Virgin Mary.

[2] T.n. Conceived without original sin.

[3] T.n. English Title “Theological Initiation”.