Last/General Judgment - by MICHELANGELO di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni - from Cappella Sistina, Vatican . . . . .
The Active Study of the Four Last Things
and the Deep Consideration of them,
is the thing that will keep you from Sin.
--Saint Thomas More
Death puts an End to Human Life as the Time Open-to either Accepting or Rejecting the Divine Grace Manifested in Christ. The New Testament speaks of Judgment Primarily in its Aspect-of the Final Encounter with Christ in His Second Coming, but also Repeatedly Affirms that each Person will be Rewarded Immediately After Death in Accordance-with his Works and Faith. The Parable of the Poor Man, Lazarus, and the Words of Christ on the Cross to the Good Thief, as well as other New Testament Texts, speak of a Final Destiny of the Soul -- a Destiny which can be different for some, and for others.
Each Man Receives his Eternal Retribution in his Immortal Soul at the very Moment of his Death, in a Particular Judgment that Refers his Life to Christ for Judgment. He either:
The Catholic Doctrine of the Particular Judgment is this: that Immediately after Death, the Eternal Destiny of each Separated Soul is decided by the Just Judgment of God. Although there has been no Formal Definition on this Point, the Dogma is clearly implied in the Union Decree of Eugene IV (1439), which declares that Souls leaving their Bodies in a State of Grace, but in Need-of Purification are Cleansed in Purgatory; whereas Souls that are Perfectly Pure are at-once Admitted-to the Beatific Vision of the Godhead (Ipsum Deum Unum et Trinum); and those who Depart in Actual Mortal Sin, or merely with Original Sin, are at-once Consigned-to Eternal Punishment, the Quality of which Corresponds-to their Sin (Paenis Tamen Disparibus).
Theologians suppose that the Particular Judgment will be Instantaneous, that in the Moment of Death the Separated Soul is Internally Illuminated as to its own Guilt or Innocence, and of its own-Initiation, takes its Course either to Hell, or to Purgatory, or to Heaven (Summa Theologica Supplement 69:2, 88:2).
General (Last/Final) Judgment
Few Truths are more-Often or more-Clearly Proclaimed in Scripture than that of the General Judgment. The Belief in the General Judgment has Prevailed at all-Times and in all-Places within the Church. It is contained as an Article of Faith in all the Ancient Creeds:
The General Judgment of Mankind will take place at the End of the World. The Bodies of all Men will be Reunited with their Souls and every Man will Come-before God for a Second and Final Judgment. In the Particular Judgment, only the Soul appears before God. In the General/Last/Final Judgment the Body, as well as the Soul, of each Individual will Receive the Reward or Punishment that it Justly Deserves. At that Time, all the Words and Works of Men, even their most Secret Thoughts, will be made Manifest to the World. At that Time, the Mercy and Justice of God will be Vindicated before all the World. At that Time, will take place the Great and Eternal Segregation of the Good from the Wicked; the Former to hear the Welcoming Words of Our Lord, "Come, ye Blessed of My Father, Possess you the Kingdom prepared for you from the Foundation of the World" (Matthew 25:34); and the Latter those Terrifying Words that will Ring in their Ears throughout Eternity, "Depart from Me, you Cursed, into Everlasting Fire, which was Prepared for the Devil and his Angels" (Matthew 25:41).
What an Awakening that will be on Judgment Day! How different the Sentiments that will well-up in the Souls of the Just and the Unjust on that Day-of-Days!
What Remorse and Regret will Haunt the Heart of the Impious, the Ungodly, the Scoffer at Religion.
What Joy and Peace and Holy Happiness will Possess the Soul of the Saved!
Banished from God Eternally (∞), yet Beholding-for One (1) Brief Moment the Glory and Rich Reward of those who in-Life, Served God Sincerely; the Lost will Lament to no Avail.
Results of the General Judgment
With the Fulfillment of the Sentence Pronounced in the Last Judgment, the Relations and the Dealings of the Creator with the Creature find their Culmination, are Explained and Justified. The Divine Purpose being Accomplished, the Human Race will, as a Consequence, attain its Final Destiny.
The Reign of Christ over Mankind will be the Sequel of the General Judgment.
- End of Catholic Encyclopedia on Judgment -
Catechism of the Catholic Church
The Last Judgment - by Rogier van der Weyden
The Central Panel is dominated by the Son of God, seated on a Semi-circular Rainbow, with the Virgin Mary at one end of the Arc and Saint John the Baptist at the other. Christ's feet rest on a Sphere, Symbol of the Universe. With His Right Hand, He Blesses those who are Saved and with His Left, curses those who are Damned. These Two Gestures are emphasized by Appropriate Emblems, respectively, a Lily and a Blazing Sword. Beneath Christ stands Saint Michael, Prince of the Heavenly Hosts. He is pictured as Young, because he is Immortal, and as Handsome, because he is the Embodiment of Divine Justice. He holds in his hands a Scale in which he Weighs Souls. The Souls are represented by Two Little Naked Figures, whose names are "Virtutes" and "Peccata". The former kneels, overcome with delight, while the latter seems horrified and screams with terror. The panels to the left of Jesus (at His Right Hand) depict those 'Judged' Souls on their way to Saint Peter holding the Keys to Heaven; and those panels to the right of Jesus (at His Left Hand) depict those 'Judged' Souls on their way to Hell.
The Nicene Creed - "From thence He shall come again in Glory to Judge the Living and the Dead"
668 "Christ Died and Lived Again, that He might be Lord both of the Dead and of the Living". Christ's Ascension into Heaven signifies His Participation, in His Humanity, in God's Power and Authority. Jesus Christ is Lord: He Possesses all Power in Heaven and on Earth. He is "far above all Rule and Authority and Power and Dominion", for the Father "has put All Things under His Feet". Christ is Lord of the Cosmos and of History. In Him Human History and indeed all Creation are "Set Forth" and Transcendently Fulfilled.
669 As Lord, Christ is also Head of the Church, which is His Body. Taken-up to Heaven and Glorified after He had thus Fully Accomplished His Mission, Christ Dwells-on Earth in His Church. The Redemption is the Source of the Authority that Christ, by Virtue-of the Holy Spirit, Exercises over the Church. "The Kingdom of Christ [is] already Present in Mystery", "on Earth, the Seed and the Beginning of the Kingdom".
670 Since the Ascension, God's Plan has entered into its Fulfillment. We are already at "the Last Hour". "Already the Final Age of the World is with us, and the Renewal of the World is Irrevocably Under Way; it is even now anticipated in a certain Real Way, for the Church on Earth is endowed already with a Sanctity that is Real but Imperfect". Christ's Kingdom already Manifests its Presence through the Miraculous Signs that attend its Proclamation by the Church . . . . until all things are Subjected-to Him
671 Though already Present-in His Church, Christ's Reign is nevertheless yet-to-be Fulfilled "with Power and great Glory" by the King's Return-to Earth. This Reign is still Under Attack by the Evil Powers, even though They have been Defeated Definitively by Christ's Passover. Until everything is Subject-to Him, "until there be realized New Heavens and a New Earth in which Justice Dwells, the Pilgrim Church, in Her Sacraments and Institutions, which belong to this Present Age, carries the Mark of this World which will Pass, and She Herself takes Her Place among the Creatures which Groan and Travail yet, and Await the Revelation of the Sons of God". That is why Christians Pray, above all in the Eucharist, to Hasten Christ's Return by saying to Him: Maranatha! "Our Lord, Come!"
672 Before His Ascension, Christ Affirmed that the Hour had not yet come for the Glorious Establishment of the Messianic Kingdom awaited by Israel which, according to the Prophets, was to bring all Men the Definitive Order of Justice, Love and Peace. According to the Lord, the Present Time is the Time of the Spirit and of Witness, but also a Time still marked-by Distress and the Trial of Evil, which does not Spare the Church and Ushers-in the Struggles of the Last Days. It is a Time of Waiting and Watching.
673 Since the Ascension, Christ's Coming-in Glory has been Imminent, even though "it is not for you to know Times or Seasons which the Father has Fixed by His Own Authority". This Eschatological Coming could be accomplished at any Moment, even if both it and the Final Trial that will precede it, are "Delayed".
674 The Glorious Messiah's Coming is Suspended-at every Moment of History, until His Recognition by "All Israel, for "a Hardening has come upon Part of Israel" in their "Unbelief" toward Jesus. Saint Peter says to the Jews of Jerusalem after Pentecost: "Repent therefore, and turn again, that your Sins may be Blotted out, that Times of Refreshing may come from the Presence of the Lord, and that He may send the Christ Appointed-for you, Jesus, Whom Heaven must Receive until the Time for Establishing all that God spoke by the Mouth of His Holy Prophets from of Old". Saint Paul echoes him: "For if their Rejection means the Reconciliation of the World, what will their Acceptance mean but Life from the Dead". The "Full Inclusion" of the Jews in the Messiah's Salvation, in the wake of "the Full Number of the Gentiles", will enable the People of God to achieve "the Measure of the Stature of the Fullness of Christ", in which "God may be All in All".
675 Before Christ's Second Coming, the Church must pass-through a Final Trial that will Shake the Faith of many Believers. The Persecution that accompanies Her Pilgrimage on Earth will Unveil the "Mystery of Iniquity" in the Form of a Religious Deception offering Men an Apparent Solution to their Problems at the Price-of Apostasy from the Truth. The Supreme Religious Deception is that of the Antichrist, a Pseudo-Messianism by which Man Glorifies Himself in Place-of God, and of his Messiah, Come-in the Flesh.
676 The Antichrist's Deception already Begins-to Take Shape in the World every Time the Claim is made to Realize Within History that Messianic Hope which can only be realized Beyond History through the Eschatological Judgment. The Church has Rejected even Modified-Forms of this Falsification of the Kingdom-to-Come under the Name of Millenarianism, especially the "Intrinsically Perverse" Political Form of a Secular Messianism.
677 The Church will enter the Glory of the Kingdom only through this Final Passover, when She will follow Her Lord in His Death and Resurrection. The Kingdom will be Fulfilled, then, not by a Historic Triumph of the Church through a Progressive Ascendancy, but only by God's Victory over the Final Unleashing of Evil, which will cause His Bride to come-down from Heaven. God's Triumph over the Revolt of Evil will take the Form-of the Last Judgment after the Final Cosmic Upheaval of this Passing World.
678 Following in the Steps of the Prophets and John the Baptist, Jesus announced the Judgment of the Last Day in His Preaching. Then will the Conduct of Each One, and the Secrets of Hearts be Brought-to Light. Then will the Culpable Unbelief that Counted the Offer of God's Grace as Nothing, be Condemned. Our Attitude to our Neighbor will Disclose Acceptance or Refusal of Grace and Divine Love. On the Last Day, Jesus will say: "Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the Least of these My Brethren, you did it to Me".
679 Christ is Lord of Eternal Life. Full-Right to Pass Definitive Judgment on the Works and Hearts of Men belongs to Him as Redeemer of the World. He "Acquired" this Right by His Cross. The Father has given "All Judgment to the Son". Yet the Son did not come to Judge, but to Save and to give the Life He has in Himself. By Rejecting Grace in this Life, one already Judges Oneself, Receives According-to One's Works, and can even Condemn Oneself for all Eternity by Rejecting the Spirit of Love.
680 Christ the Lord, already Reigns-through the Church, but all the things of this World are not-yet Subjected-to Him. The Triumph of Christ's Kingdom will not Come-about without One (1) Last Assault by the Powers of Evil.
681 On Judgment Day at the End of the World, Christ will come in Glory to Achieve the Definitive Triumph of Good over Evil which, like the Wheat and the Tares, have Grown-up together in the Course-of-History.
682 When He comes at the End-of- Time to Judge the Living and the Dead, the Glorious Christ will Reveal the Secret Disposition-of Hearts and will Render-to each Man according-to his Works, and according-to his Acceptance or Refusal of Grace.