Hi Father Bloom ~
I belong to a bible study group and today we had a discussion about what happens when we die. Some said that we are not with God until after the 2nd coming, others said we are in a deep sleep until we are with God, but not until the second coming. I thought we went to purgatory until we were cleansed and then our soul was with God and we see the face of God. The second coming only unites us with our body. Please clear up our confusion with the proper information. I ask if you can respond before next Thursday (Mar. 8th), because that is our next Bible Study and we need to be prepared to answer this question.
Thank You ~
When we die each of us will be individually judged and be consigned to heaven, hell or purgatory. Those in purgatory are saved, that is, they will eventually go to heaven, but need purification before they can be in the presence of God - or even their "loved ones." I think of a widower I knew who deeply loved is wife, longed to be reunited, but still at certain moments would remember things and a terrible resentment would well up. To come into her undisguised presence, he would need purification, especially since he sometimes nursed that anger.
At the end of human history (the Second Coming) our bodies will be reunited with our souls. Not so much the physical stuff we are carrying around now (which is constantly being recycled anyway) but our ability to receive sensations (sight, touch, etc.) thru matter. We get some idea of it in the appearances of Jesus to his disciples after he rose bodily from the dead. At that time there will be a Universal Judgment where each of our lives will be shown (judged) in relation to all other lives and events of human history. It's pretty awesome, is it not? The important thing is that we give our lives over to God while we still have possibility of repentance.
Hope this is some help. Please say a prayer for me during your Bible study. You are in mine.
Fr. Phil Bloom
See Catholic Answers to Questions about Last Things