Friday, April 27, 2012
*Best of DTB #175* The Catholic Defender: Asleep In Christ
I thought John really presented the Catholic position on Mary, the Saints, and prayer. In an Earlier debate, George (the opponent) made the argument that no one is in heaven, that the saved are in the ground body and soul in a "sleeping" state.
He believes that both the body and the soul are in the grave waiting for the resurrection of the Lord.
They are taking this from 1 Thessalonians 4:16, "For the Lord himself shall come down from heaven with commandment, and with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God: and the dead who are in Christ, shall rise first."
This is not how the early Church interpreted this text, the body is indeed in the grave, but the soul lives on. The Catholic Church has for 2,000 years have taught that the soul will go to one of three places immediately after death.
"And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”
The General Judgment will be far more a complete and dramatic scale, a grander scale more than this, the soul will be reunited with the body and then judgment. The saved will enter into Heaven and the damned will go to hell.
I think this is true so we need to give them as much comfort as we can by being encouraging. When I worked in the Emergency Room, I was very mindful of this. I remember one Lady who had been pronounced dead by the doctor, when I was getting her prepared to put her in a shroud, she woke up and I began to respond but she was ready to go.
She did not want me to help her, she immediately went back into her prose, she looked very much in peace. The doctor let her go.
It was 29 December 2004, I received a Red Cross message informing me that my Mother was dying. The Doctor and Hospice all were confirming Mom's status with the Red Cross. I was informed that my Mother was coming in and out of consciousness and she had been calling for me. I was serving in New Orleans working at the Military Enlistment Processing Center (MEPS) as the Medical Element NCOIC.
I arrived home from work and that is when I was notified by my wife of the situation. My family in Missouri alerted us before the Red Cross message arrived to my unit. My Command was afraid to let me respond to my Mother's wish because the next day was for the Recruiters, the opportunity to floor Applicants all day. I was able to work out support from my Element, but my Command would not budge. I was able to fly to Missouri the following evening after the mission was completed. My Mother's persistence kept her alive as long as she hoped I was on my way home.
I finally arrived at home in Southwestern Missouri at 23:00 the following night. I flew wearing my Class A uniform. Mom had never seen me in uniform through out my military career. I always went home in civilian clothes, but on this trip, in honor of my Mother, I was determined to wear my uniform. A friend picked me up at the airport and they briefed me what was happening. Mom had been in a coma for nearly 5 days, she has not had anything to eat or drink so she was dehydrated.
They had to put a diaper on her because she was not conscious. When I arrived there I could see her skin tone was pale, her eyes were sunken in, her joints were swollen from lack of circulation, her vital signs were practically non-existent and her breathing was raspy. I sat down at the foot of the bed and simply observed what was happening. One of my Aunt's was there with my Sister-In-Law and Brother who were trying to make Mom as comfortable as they could.
After a few moments, everyone left the room leaving my Brother and me alone with Mother. Mom didn't know who I was, she was in a coma state. As we both sat there with Mom, my Brother began to sing a Johnny Cash song to break the ice. I kind of just listened and watched. There was no response from Mom not even a twitch. When he paused, I began singing a song that came to mind, "Immaculate Mary, your praises we sing...."
At this point, Mom began to respond to what I was singing. I began singing every verse I could think of. Mom began to sing with a voice that seemed to come deep from within her chest and she became stronger the more I sang. I was singing every song I could think of as Mom seemed to be coming out of this death trap.
We ended up singing praises to God for 30-40 minutes after which, Mom was alert, could see me and I was able to explain my medals on my uniform to her. This was the most amazing thing, everyone there was scratching their heads as I was very excited. The following morning, Father Bill arrived (childhood Priest) to give Mom the Anointing of the Sick.
As soon as Father left, Mom was able to get up and use the rest room, she sat down at the table and was eating chicken, chili dogs, and pizza. Again, everyone was scratching their heads trying not to get too excited about this.
Consider Elisha, "Once while some Israelites were burying a man, suddenly they saw a band of raiders; so they threw the man's body into Elisha's tomb. When the body touched Elisha's bones, the man came to life and stood up on his feet."
Also Samuel, "Now Samuel had died, and all Israel had mourned for him and buried him in Ramah, his own city. And Saul had put the mediums and the necromancers out of the land. The Philistines assembled and came and encamped at Shunem. And Saul gathered all Israel, and they encamped at Gilboa. When Saul saw the army of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart trembled greatly. And when Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord did not answer him, either by dreams, or by Urim, or by prophets. Then Saul said to his servants, “Seek out for me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her.” And his servants said to him, “Behold, there is a medium at En-dor.” So Saul disguised himself and put on other garments and went, he and two men with him. And they came to the woman by night. And he said, “Divine for me by a spirit and bring up for me whomever I shall name to you.” The woman said to him, “Surely you know what Saul has done, how he has cut off the mediums and the necromancers from the land. Why then are you laying a trap for my life to bring about my death?” But Saul swore to her by the Lord, “As the Lord lives, no punishment shall come upon you for this thing.” Then the woman said, “Whom shall I bring up for you?” He said, “Bring up Samuel for me.” When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out with a loud voice. And the woman said to Saul, “Why have you deceived me? You are Saul.” The king said to her, “Do not be afraid. What do you see?” And the woman said to Saul, “I see a god coming up out of the earth.” He said to her, “What is his appearance?” And she said, “An old man is coming up, and he is wrapped in a robe.” And Saul knew that it was Samuel, and he bowed with his face to the ground and paid homage."
From a Christian perspective, the soul lives and is aware of the things through the power of God.
It is clear from this text that we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. St. Paul sees this as a major reason we should fight the battle of life because we are being watched by heaven.
At the death of Jesus, he went to preach to the spirits in "prison" indicating that those in this state were with Jesus. Jesus opened the doors for all those in his hearing, those saved from the foundation of the world. They were not spiritually dead, but they clearly were waiting. The Catholic Church does not believe that the soul sleeps in the tomb until the Resurrection. The Saints are seen praising God around the throne. Revelation 4 is basically the heavenly worship that is taking place in the Mass, we are participating in that heavenly worship.
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