“Ask a Priest: What Can Non-Catholics Expect After Death?”

Q: I’m not Catholic. What happens to non-Catholics after death? – D.D.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: We all face what is known as a particular judgment at the moment of death.

That is when we face God, who is absolute Truth, and we see our lives in the light of that Truth. We face judgment based on how we lived and on what the state of our soul is at death.

Immediately we learn our fate: either heaven right away, purgatory for a while and then heaven, or hell for eternity.

If we die in a state of mortal (serious) sin, we face the prospect of hell. In this case we get what we choose. If we sin seriously and in effect reject God, then we live with the consequence of that decision for all eternity.

Similarly, if we try to follow God’s ways, we can attain heaven with his grace.

Perhaps non-Catholics, not having enjoyed the benefit of the sacraments in their lifetime, will face a less severe judgment than will Catholics.

For a short video, see https://www.catholic.com/video/what-happens-when-we-die.

To help you pray about these truths, you might find it helpful to what our Retreat Guide called Fire of Mercy.

One thing you count on: All of us will be judged.

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