Here understood as the physical body of the just reunited at the resurrection of the dead with the soul that formerly animated it and that at the moment of reunion is already enjoying the beatific vision.
Fact. That at the end of time there is to be a universal resurrection of both the good and the evil is a dogma of the Church. This truth is explicitly set forth in all the major creeds and symbols, and formally defined in the benedictus deus of benedict xii (H. Denzinger, Enchiridion symbolorum, ed. A. Schönmetzer [32d ed. Freiburg 1963] 1000–02). It is found in the formal teaching of Christ: "… the hour is coming … when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God…. And they who have done good shall come forth unto resurrection of life; but they who have done evil unto resurrection of judgment" (Jn 5.25–30). St. Paul's teaching is replete with references to the resurrection; for instance, he witnesses to the common faith: "… I serve the God of my fathers; believing all things that are written in the Law and the Prophets, having a hope in God which these men themselves also look for, that there is to be a resurrection of the just and the unjust" (Acts 24.14–16). The classic text for the resurrection of the just is, of course, 1 Cor 15 (see below).
Besides the two dogmas mentioned above, namely, the fact of the resurrection, and its universality, there is a third truth, also dogmatic, the identity of the risen body with that which each individual now has as his own. Thus Lateran Council IV defined that Christ "will come at the end of the world … and all will rise with their own bodies which they now have so that they may receive according to their works, whether good or bad" (H. Denzinger, Enchiridion symbolorum 801). How this identity is to be explained has exercised theologians over the centuries. It is clear from St. Paul that Christ's own Resurrection is not only the cause but also the model of the Christian's (1 Cor 15). Finally, the body of the just man, while remaining in some mysterious way materially identical with his body of the present life, will, nevertheless, be transformed and made immeasurably superior to its present condition; the fact of this at least is the unambiguous teaching of St. Paul (ibid. ). What can be said about the nature of this transformation can now be set forth; here theologians are sometimes in the realm of speculation and conclusions that carry no more doctrinal weight than is warranted by the intrinsic validity of the argumentation itself.
Nature of the Glorification. In light of 1 Cor 15 theologians traditionally teach that the characteristic qualities of the glorified body are four: impassibility— "What is sown in corruption rises in incorruption"; clarity—"what is sown in dishonor rises in glory"; agility— "what is sown in weakness rises in power"; and subtilty—"what is sown a natural body rises a spiritual body." These qualities follow from the body's repossession and complete dominance by the soul already in full blessedness.
It is against the nature of the soul, the form of the body, to exist without its body (C. gent. 2.68, 83; 4.79); indeed the soul separated from the body is in one way imperfect, as is every part existing outside its whole, for the soul is naturally a part of the human composite. The scholastics accordingly speak of the separated soul as in statu violento. For this reason Aquinas says the resurrection is natural in that its purpose is to reunite soul and body, though of course the cause of the reunion is supernatural (C. gent. 4.81). Since, however, the soul of the just person, once completely free from all stain of sin, is from that moment in the state of perfect beatitude (H. Denzinger, Enchiridion symbolorum 1000), it follows that, reunited with the body, it shares with it its glory. St. Thomas says repeatedly that the glory of the body derives from that of the soul. He lays down the principle "In perfect happiness the entire man is perfected, but in the lower part of his nature by an overflow from the higher" (Summa theologiae 1a2ae, 3.3 ad 3). Concretely, "it is by divine appointment that there is an overflow of glory from the soul to the body, in keeping with human merit; so that as man merits by the act of the soul which he performs in the body, so he may be rewarded by the glory of the soul overflowing to the body. Hence not only the glory of the soul but also the glory of the body is merited" (Summa theologiae 3a, 19.3 ad 3; cf. 3a, 7.4 ad 2). On the other hand, the body now perfectly vivified will also be most fully responsive to the soul. No longer impeded by the imperfections and limitations of matter still in captivity to sin (cf. Rom 8.23), it will be not only the soul's docile instrument but also most completely itself. St. Thomas addresses himself to this point:
The soul which is enjoying God will cleave to Him most perfectly, and will in its own fashion share in His goodness to the highest degree; and thus will the body be perfectly within the soul's dominion and will share in what is the soul's very own characteristics so far as possible—in the perspicuity of sense knowledge, in the ordering of bodily appetite, and in the all-round perfection of nature; for a thing is the more perfect in nature the more its matter is dominated by its form … just as the soul of man will be elevated to the glory of heavenly spirits to see God in His essence … so also will his body be raised to the characteristics of heavenly bodies—it will be lightsome, incapable of suffering, without difficulty and labor in movement, and most perfectly perfected by its form. For this reason the Apostle speaks of the bodies of the risen as heavenly, referring not to their nature, but to their glory [C. gent. 4.86].
Since the resurrection of christ is not only the cause of the Christian's but also its model, what the Scriptures relate concerning the perfections of His body are also to be predicated, with due proportion, of the body of everyone who shares in His victory and with Him rises to glory: "For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made to live. But each in his own turn, Christ as firstfruits, then they who are Christ's" (1 Cor 15.22–23). St. John perhaps has given the best epitome of the whole man's future glory: "We know that, when he [Christ] appears, we shall be like him for we shall see him just as he is" (1 Jn 3.2–3).
See Also: heaven; soul, human; immortality; soul-body relationship; transfiguration.
Bibliography: j. ratzinger, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner, 10 v. (2d new ed. Freiburg 1957–65) 1:1052–53. a. chollet, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique 3.2:1879–1906. a. michel, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique 13.2:2501–71. a. winklhofer, "Eschatologie," h. fries, ed., Handbuch theologischer Grundbegriffe, 2 v. (Munich 1962–63) 1:327–336; The Coming of His Kingdom (New York 1963). f. x. durrwell, The Resurrection: A Biblical Study, tr. r. sheed (New York 1960). m. a. genevois, Entre dans la joie (Paris 1960). r. guardini, The Last Things, tr. c. e. forsyth and g. b. branham (New York 1954).
[c. j. corcoran]