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Daily Catholic Question

What does the Church teach about reincarnation?

In A Concise Dictionary of Theology (Paulist, 1991), Jesuits Gerald O’Collins and Edward Farrugia describe reincarnation as “the belief, also called metempsychosis (Greek ‘animate afterward’), that souls inhabit a series of bodies and can live many lives on this earth before being completely purified and so released from the need to migrate to another body.

“According to this belief, the soul preexists its embodiment, and after death exists in a disembodied state before animating [inhabiting] once again a body of the same or a different species. In various forms, reincarnation has been accepted by Buddhists, Hindus, Neoplatonists and others.

“Belief in resurrection and official rejection of the preexistence of souls...rule out reincarnation. By maintaining an indefinite series of chances, the doctrine of reincarnation reduces the seriousness of God’s grace and human liberty exercised in one life that is terminated by a once-and-for-all death.”

In 1991 the Holy See’s International Theological Commission published Certain Aspects of Eschatology, which says: “Christianity defends duality, reincarnation defends a dualism in which the body is simply an instrument of the soul and is laid aside, existence by successive existence, as an altogether different body is assumed each time.

“As far as eschatology is concerned, the doctrine of reincarnation denies both the possibility of eternal damnation and the idea of the resurrection of the body. But the fundamental error is in the rejection of the Christian doctrine of salvation. For the reincarnationist the soul is its own savior by its own efforts” (Section 9.3).

Reincarnation denies the need to convert, about which Jesus spoke often. If souls keep recycling, won’t they all end up in the same place eventually? If so, why are our decisions today important?
Arguing that some major doctrine was originally in the Bible but was later removed strikes me as too easy a solution.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says: “When ‘the single course of our earthly life’ is completed, we shall not return to other earthly lives: ‘It is appointed for men to die once’ [Hebrews 9:27]. There is no ‘reincarnation’ after death” (#1013).

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Thursday, January 31, 2013
Daily Catholic Question for 1/30/2013 Daily Catholic Question for 2/1/2013


Elizabeth of Portugal: Elizabeth is usually depicted in royal garb with a dove or an olive branch. At her birth in 1271, her father, Pedro III, future king of Aragon, was reconciled with his father, James, the reigning monarch. This proved to be a portent of things to come. Under the healthful influences surrounding her early years, she quickly learned self-discipline and acquired a taste for spirituality. Thus fortunately prepared, she was able to meet the challenge when, at the age of 12, she was given in marriage to Denis, king of Portugal. She was able to establish for herself a pattern of life conducive to growth in God’s love, not merely through her exercises of piety, including daily Mass, but also through her exercise of charity, by which she was able to befriend and help pilgrims, strangers, the sick, the poor—in a word, all those whose need came to her notice. At the same time she remained devoted to her husband, whose infidelity to her was a scandal to the kingdom. 
<p>He, too, was the object of many of her peace endeavors. She long sought peace for him with God, and was finally rewarded when he gave up his life of sin. She repeatedly sought and effected peace between the king and their rebellious son, Alfonso, who thought that he was passed over to favor the king’s illegitimate children. She acted as peacemaker in the struggle between Ferdinand, king of Aragon, and his cousin James, who claimed the crown. And finally from Coimbra, where she had retired as a Franciscan tertiary to the monastery of the Poor Clares after the death of her husband, she set out and was able to bring about a lasting peace between her son Alfonso, now king of Portugal, and his son-in-law, the king of Castile.</p> American Catholic Blog In the name of the Father, use my mind to bring you honor, and of the Son, fill my heart to spread your word, and of the Holy Spirit, strengthen me to carry you out to all the world. Amen.

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