When Will Jesus Judge Us?

My name is Larysa Olejnik, and I have a question to ask. What happens after you die? Do you wait to be judged by God right away, or do you have to wait until everybody dies, and then be judged? I thought when you die you get judged and then you can go to purgatory and do penance for your sins. In the Apostles Creed, it says that Jesus will come again to judge the living and the dead. Can you please clarify this for me? Thank you for your time.


Larysa Olejnik


Dear Larysa,

Good to hear from. I congratulate for the question you ask because today many people do not want to face the inevitability of death. After we die comes the particular judgment when we will either go to heaven, hell or purgatory. Purgatory is a place of cleansing. Only the very greatest saints, the ones who have much penance in this life, will go directly to heaven. That is why it is so important pray for those who have died, especially at Mass.

There is an unfortunate tendency to canonize people during funeral eulogies. "Uncle Joe is now looking down on us from heaven." How do they know that? I've told people on different occasions that when I die I do not want anyone to assume I am in heaven, but rather to pray for my soul. (I do feel confident that if I rely on God's grace and continue on my present course, I will make it to purgatory and therefore eventually to heaven.)

There will be a general judgment at the end of history. At that moment our lives will be seen in relation to all others: the harm we have done perhaps by inducing others to sin and the good we did by our prayers, correct words and right example. Also our bodies will be raised from the dead. There will be physical joys for those in heaven as well as physical pains for those in hell. I tried to explain some of this in homilies about heaven and hell. Also Catholic Answers has some excellent articles on the Last Things.

I hope this helps, Larysa. The main thing is each day to ask God for his forgiveness for any sins and for the grace to live how he wants you to.

God bless,

Fr. Phil Bloom


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