What do You Know About the 4 Last Things?

These four things are probably the most important things you need to know about.

What happens at the end of our lives – when death separates body from soul, and we meet Jesus face to face?

This post has ten questions and answers about the four last things – to help you get a better understanding.

And I’m especially excited to bring this to you as we wrap up one liturgical year and head into another.

The four last things is a huge liturgical theme throughout Advent (the beginning of the liturgical year).

As we prepare our hearts to meet Jesus on Christmas, we also prepare to meet him when he comes again – at the end of our lives, and at the second coming.

So take some time to think about these things, because they are imminently important!

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Let’s dive in to our Catholic Trivia questions about the four Last Things.

1. What are the 4 Last Things?

A: Death, Judgment, Heaven, Hell.

Like the name suggests, these four things are the “last things” that we will encounter.

At the end of our earthly lives, we’re all bound to experience death: the separation of body and soul.

Except, maybe, for those who are alive at the time of the second coming.

However, all will experience judgment before Jesus Christ. I think of the story Jesus tells in Matthew 25:31-46, of the separation of the sheep and the goats.

It’s a shocking but necessary truth to think about. He will welcome all the righteous, and send away all the wicked.

Welcome them where? Send them away where?

The last two last things are heaven and hell.

We will end up in one place or the other. The way we live right now is how we choose where we will live for all eternity.

No one is predestined for hell. In other words, God does not make people just to send them to hell.

Each of us makes that choice for ourselves, with every action we take every day – whether to choose or reject friendship with God.

2. What Sacraments prepare a Catholic for death?

A: Last Rites: Anointing of the Sick, Penance & Viaticum

Anointing of the sick is a good sacrament for anyone undergoing illness. It gives them strength and healing.

But this sacrament is especially suited for those in danger of death.

Did you know that a person can receive Anointing of the Sick more than once?

Any time the conditions of an illness worsen, this sacrament may be repeated.

Anointing of the Sick includes laying on of hands, prayer of the faithful, and anointing with oil.

Along with the Anointing, a Catholic may receive Penance (or Reconciliation, Confession) and Viaticum: the Eucharist as the Last Sacrament.

Check out the Catechism of the Catholic Church for a complete explanation of these Sacraments!

3. Name the place where people go who die in God’s friendship, but are imperfectly purified.

A: Purgatory

Purgatory is not included in the *actual* list of the “4 Last Things” because it’s not a permanent resting place.

“All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.”

CCC 1030

Souls who go to purgatory will go to heaven eventually. They’re not in a place of insecurity – still determining whether to go to heaven or hell.

Rather, they’re safely on their way to heaven. They just need a little cleaning up first.

The word “purgatory” comes from the root “purge,” meaning a cleaning or purifying.

Nothing impure can enter heaven.

It’s very unlikely that many of us will be completely pure and clean by the time we die.

So, for many of us, if we die in friendship with God, we’ll probably have a stop in purgatory while all attachment to sin is removed from our souls.

Then, onward to heaven!!

4. What are the 2 judgments?

A: Particular Judgment, Last Judgment.

There are two judgments that we undergo.

At the time of our death, each person’s soul will enter into an immutable (unchangeable) state.

Throughout our lives, we have the option every moment to choose or reject friendship with God.

However, at the moment of our death, that choice becomes final.

At the Particular Judgment, which occurs at the time of our death, the state of our souls, and in turn, our final resting place, is determined.

If we die in friendship with God, we receive our eternal reward of heaven.

If we die outside of friendship with God, we receive our eternal damnation in hell.

Then there’s the Last Judgment.

At the Last Judgment, at the end of time, Christ will come again in glory. Those still alive on earth with receive their Particular Judgment.

All truth will be revealed.

The ins and outs of our relationship with God – all our good deeds, our virtues, and even our sins, will be revealed to all.

Thinking about the two judgments can sometimes seem scary, ugly, and sad.

But it does us good to meditate on these judgments – so that our hearts may be called to conversion.

5. Once you go to heaven or hell, can your eternal destiny be changed?

A: Nope!!!

As we mentioned in the answer to #4, about the two judgments, at the time of our death, each person’s soul will enter into an immutable (unchangeable) state.

The book of Revelation, in speaking of hell, says: “And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever.” (Revelation 14:11)

Some may try to claim that hell is only temporary, or that those who enter hell will eventually be annihilated.

But the Bible clearly states that the punishment of hell is eternal.

Likewise, the reward of heaven is eternal.

Angels, at their creation, were given the one-time choice whether to serve God or reject him.

It’s a common misconception that Angels “fell from heaven.” The angels did not have the Beatific Vision at the moment they were created.

So the demons (fallen angels) did fall, but did not fall out of heaven.

Their choice of whether to love God and enter heaven, or reject God and be condemned to hell, was a one-time choice.

Upon moving their will to make their decision, they obtained their eternal and unchangeable reward.

As humans, we are given this choice throughout the course of our mortal lives here on earth. I consider this a great gift and privelage!

This means that, until the moment of our death, we can turn back to God in repentance.

He can forgive our sins and restore us to his friendship.

If it’s been a while since you’ve been to confession: go now. Turn away from your sins, and turn back to God.

And keep turning back to him, every day, and every time you fall.

Remain in his friendship, and ask Our Lady’s intercession for the moment of your death – that you may die in his friendship, and so rejoice with him forever in heaven.

6. Will the Resurrection of the dead occur before or after the Last Judgment?

A: Before!

I thought this was an interesting bit of trivia – and thus perfect for our discussion, today!

The Catechism says the resurrection of the dead precedes (comes before) the Last Judgment.

7. At the end of time, we will be reunited with our bodies but they will be in a _______________ state.

A: Glorified

The glorified body is one of my all-time favorite things to think about.

It has so many amazing attributes I can’t wait to experience!

  • Clarity!

Remember how Jesus shone at the Transfiguration?! Our glorified bodies will have the attribute of clarity. We’ll be shiny. We’ll be beautiful.

  • Impassibility!

Our glorified bodies will no longer be susceptible to sickness and death. You won’t be able to stub your toes or get a paper cut. No scars, no illnesses, no fatigue. What a consolation for a tired mom!

  • Agility!

You want to do backflips? You got it. Run for miles without getting tired? Sure thing. Agility means that all movement of the body will be easy for us. We will even be able to bilocate!

  • Subtlety!

We know that Jesus was able to walk through walls after he rose from the dead. In our glorified bodies, we will be able to do that, too. Our bodies will have a “spiritual” nature that is perfect in form.

Here’s an article from Taylor Marshall and one from Catholic Answers explaining this a little deeper.

8. We look forward to the New Kingdom, in which the old earth will pass away and be replaced with _______________________.

A: A New Heaven, and a New Earth

Here’s an explanation from the Catechism:

“At the end of time, the Kingdom of God will come in its fullness…. The universe itself will be renewed…. Sacred Scripture calls this mysterious renewal, which will transform humanity and the world, ‘new heavens and a new earth.'”

CCC 1042-1043

There’s a lot of imagery in the Scripture and Sacred Tradition about what this new world will look like.

But ultimately, the beauty of heaven is beyond our understanding.

Any descriptions, metaphors, allegories, and descriptive language we use will never compare to the glory of what heaven is.

9. What is the study of the last things called?

A: Eschatology

This is one of those big words that makes me pause every time I come across it.

Eschatology is the study of the last things.

Even if we don’t know the fancy words for it – it’s an important topic to know, as it concerns our eternal salvation!

If you’re interested in learning more about the last things, the best place to start is the book of Revelation.

It’s a prophecy concerning the End of Time, with tons of insight on the reality of death, judgment, heaven, and hell.

Maybe pull out your Bible and give it a read!

Or, as we move into Advent, pay particular attention to the readings at Mass and the theme of the “Last Things” that we will be hearing a lot about.

10. The members of the Body of Christ include the Church Militant, the Church Suffering, and the Church __________________.

A: Church Suffering, Church Triumphant

The Catechism explains that the Church has three states.

Commonly, we call these states the Church Militant, the Church Suffering, and the Church Triumphant.

The Church Militant refers to those of us on earth. We are currently fighting the battle against sin, straining for heaven, with God’s grace to uphold us.

The Church Suffering refers to the souls in purgatory. They already have the guarantee of heaven, but they are in need of purification before they can enter the Beatific Vision.

This purification is “as of fire,” so yes – it is a time of suffering. But suffering with a purpose, and a beautiful end.

The Church Triumphant refers to all the Saints in heaven. They have run the race, fought the good fight, and they have received their reward.

And they’ll continue to enjoy the fruits of their labor for all eternity!

This is our goal, my friends.

This is why we fight for virtue, why we follow the Commandments, why we try to love God with our whole hearts.

It’s why we take the time to think about the uncomfortable truths of sin and death.

Because we were created for heaven, and all hardships, trials, and difficulties are so worth it if they help us along the road there.


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2 thoughts on “What do You Know About the 4 Last Things?

  1. Fun, but the answers come right next to the questions, which doesn’t leave space to see if you can guess it before looking at it. If one could just scroll down a little, it would work better. I’m glad one doesn’t have to keep clicking “Next.”


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