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I've heard and read that when we die, and we go to heaven, we won't have bodies. We'll be spirits only, but so happy that we won't need bodies or objects.

  • In School we were taught that when we go to Heaven, we can have everything we want. Now, that's not possible at all if we're only spirits, and there is no physical world (i.e. an Earth)
  • Doesn't the Bible talk about God's Kingdom, White horses and gates and pearls? I mean, what good is all of that if we can't touch/interact with it (remember, we won't have bodies)?

So this leads me to ask, does the Catholic church teach that we will have physical bodies in heaven?

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No problem, I hope this helps. I have retracted my close vote and +1ed. –  Wikis Oct 7 '13 at 7:33
FYI, Gnostics teach that we have no physical form in the afterlife. That is pretty much the oldest heresy out there - and is thoroughly rejected by the Nicene Church. –  Affable Geek Oct 15 '13 at 20:34
@DavidStratton Not a duplicate. This question is asking for the Catholic opinion. The other question is asking for Bible support only (and maybe is off-topic anyway). –  fredsbend Oct 16 '13 at 0:39
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4 Answers

The Catechism has this:

1026 By his death and Resurrection, Jesus Christ has "opened" heaven to us. The life of the blessed consists in the full and perfect possession of the fruits of the redemption accomplished by Christ. He makes partners in his heavenly glorification those who have believed in him and remained faithful to his will. Heaven is the blessed community of all who are perfectly incorporated into Christ.

1027 This mystery of blessed communion with God and all who are in Christ is beyond all understanding and description. Scripture speaks of it in images: life, light, peace, wedding feast, wine of the kingdom, the Father's house, the heavenly Jerusalem, paradise: "no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him." [1 Cor 2:9]

Thus the Catholic Church makes no claim about a physical body. We will be "perfectly incorporated into Christ"; as indicated by 1 Cor 15:50–53...

I tell you this, brethren: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Lo! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable nature must put on the imperishable, and this mortal nature must put on immortality. [RSVCE]

Our mortal nature is changed to an immortal, imperishable nature. As no-one knows what that will be like [1 Cor 2:9] we can't say whether it will be a physical body or not. What is certain, however, is that it will be nothing like what we can understand now.

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I'd highly recommend the book Surprised by Hope_ by N.T. Wright. He does a very great job of going in depth of what the bible says our hope is for life after death. It's a good read, and left me feeling very refreshed and excited.

The premise focuses on the scriptures where God returns to earth to make a New Heaven and a New Earth, and we are resurrected with new bodies and live forever in his presence. My imagination takes me to some of the most beautiful places on the current earth: Made perfect in Gods presence. The scriptures point to us having meaningful eternal lives, so not only do we sit around in God's presence but have work and purpose that is fulfilling to us and perfectly glorifies God.

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Man, though made of body and soul, is a unity. Through his very bodily condition he sums up in himself the elements of the material world. Through him they are thus brought to their highest perfection and can raise their voice in praise freely given to the Creator. For this reason man may not despise his bodily life. Rather he is obliged to regard his body as good and to hold it in honour since God has created it and will raise it up on the last day

(emphasis mine)

Cathecism of the Catholic Church Paragraph 322 states that our bodies will be raised on the last day, so after that we will have bodies in heaven.

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1 Corinthians 15:12-19 deals with the question of whether there will be a resurrection. Some people in Corinth were saying that there wouldn't be a resurrection, but Paul says that there definitely will be one, that without a physical resurrection the gospel is useless and we will remain guilty of our sins.

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Welcome to the site. Though this does add to the question, we would expect a bit more out of an answer. Since the question is asking for a Catholic perspective, a statement from a Catholic authority would probably be the best answer. Something from the Catechism or the Canon Laws. –  fredsbend Oct 7 '13 at 16:47
I get what you're saying, but surely the New Testament counts as a Catholic authority? :P It's a very straight forward passage. And why just restrict it to Catholicism? All the major branches of Christianity would agree on this topic. –  curiousdannii Oct 7 '13 at 16:50
The questioner restricted it to Catholicism. Catholicism also is pretty strict about personal interpretation of the scriptures and the catechism is typically the first thing the common man should turn to for answers. More importantly, this answer is kind of leading. It seems like a smaller point for the conclusion to the question: According to Catholics, will we have a physical body in heaven? –  fredsbend Oct 7 '13 at 17:05
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