Summary of Catholic Teaching. Topic 11: THE RESURRECTION OF OUR LORD.


Summary of Catholic Teaching.


Christ’s Resurrection is a fundamental truth of our faith, as St Paul tells us (cf. 1 Cor 15:13-14). Thereby God inaugurated the life of the future world and put it at the disposition of mankind.


  1. Christ was buried and descended into hell.

After suffering and dying, Christ’s body was buried in a new tomb, not far from the place where he had been crucified. His soul, on the other hand, descended into hell. Christ’s burial showed that he truly died. God ordained that Christ should undergo the condition of death, that is, the separation of the soul from the body (cf. Catechism, 624). While he remained in the tomb, both his soul and his body, though separated from each other by death, continued being united to his divine Person (cf. Catechism, 626)

Because Christ’s dead body continued to belong to the divine Person, it did not undergo the corruption of the tomb (cf. Catechism, 627, Acts 13:37). Christ’s soul went down into hell. “THIS ‘HELL’ WAS DIFFERENT FROM THE HELL OF THE DAMNED. IT WAS THE STATE OF ALL THOSE, RIGHTEOUS AND EVIL, WHO DIED BEFORE CHRIST” (Compendium, 125). The just lived in a state of happiness (they rested in “Abraham’s bosom”), though they still did not have the vision of God. By the phrase “went down into hell,” we understand Christ’s being present in “Abraham’s bosom” so as to open heaven’s gates to the just who had gone before him. “With his soul united to his divine Person Jesus went down to the just in hell who were awaiting their Redeemer so they could enter at last into the vision of God” (Compendium, 125).


  1. General meaning of Christ’s glorification

Christ’s glorification consists in his Resurrection and his Exaltation in heaven, where he is seated at the right hand of the Father. The general meaning of Christ’s glorification is tied to his death on the Cross. Just as by Christ’s Passion and Death, God abolished sin and reconciled the world to himself, so likewise, by Christ’s Resurrection, God inaugurated the life of the future world and put it at mankind’s disposition.

The blessings of salvation stem not only from the Cross, but also from Christ’s Resurrection. These fruits are applied to men through the Church’s mediation and the Sacraments. Specifically, through Baptism, we receive pardon for our sins (both original sin and personal sins) and are clothed in the new life of the Risen One.

  1. Resurrection of Jesus Christ

“On the third day” (of his death), Jesus was raised to a new life. His body and soul, completely transfigured with the glory of his divine Person, were reunited. His soul once again animated his body, and the glory of his soul was communicated to his entire body. Therefore, “the Resurrection of Christ was not a return to earthly life. His risen body is that which was crucified and bears the marks of his passion. However it also participates in the divine life, with the characteristics of a glorified body” (Compendium , 129).

THE LORD’S RESURRECTION IS THE FOUNDATION OF OUR FAITH, SINCE IT ATTESTS BEYOND ANY DOUBT TO THE FACT THAT GOD HAS INTERVENED IN HUMAN HISTORY IN ORDER TO SAVE MANKIND. And it guarantees the truth of what the Church preaches about God, about the divinity of Christ and the salvation he brings. As St Paul says, if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is futile (1 Cor 15:17).

The Apostles could hardly have been deceived, or have invented the Resurrection. First of all, if Christ’s tomb had not been empty, they wouldn’t have ventured to speak of the Resurrection; furthermore, if Jesus had not appeared to them on various occasions and also to many others, both men and women, many of Christ’s disciples would not have been able to accept it, as initially happened with the Apostle Thomas. Still less would they have been willing to give up their lives for a lie. As St Paul says: If Christ has not been raised … we are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise (1 Cor 15: 14, 15). And when the Jewish authorities wished to silence the preaching of the Gospel, St Peter replied: We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. …. And we are witnesses to these things (Acts 5:29-30, 32)

BESIDES BEING AN HISTORICAL EVENT, VERIFIED AND ATTESTED TO BY SIGNS AND TESTIMONIES, CHRIST’S RESURRECTION IS A TRANSCENDENT HAPPENING, BECAUSE “INSOFAR AS IT IS THE ENTRANCE OF CHRIST’S HUMANITY INTO THE GLORY OF GOD, (IT) TRANSCENDS AND SURPASSES HISTORY AS A MYSTERY OF FAITH” (COMPENDIUM , 128). Therefore, the risen Jesus, though still possessing a true, physical, corporal identity, is not subject to physical, earthly laws, except when he so wills: “the risen Jesus was utterly free to appear to his disciples how and where he wished and under various aspects” (Compendium , 129).

CHRIST’S RESURRECTION IS A MYSTERY OF SALVATION. IT SHOWS THE GOODNESS AND LOVE OF GOD WHO REWARDS THE SELF-LOWERING OF HIS SON, AND WITH HIS OMNIPOTENCE IMBUES MANKIND WITH LIFE. The Risen Jesus possesses the fullness of divine life in his humanity so that he might communicate it to men and women. “The risen Christ, the conqueror of sin and death, is the principle of our justification and our Resurrection. The Resurrection procures for us now the grace of filial adoption, which is a real share in the life of the only begotten Son. At the end of time he will raise up our bodies” (Compendium , 131). Christ is the first-born among the dead and we too will rise again through Him and in Him.

From our Lord’s Resurrection we should draw:

  1. a) A LIVING FAITH: “Stir up your faith! Christ is not a figure of the past. He is not a memory lost in history. He lives!‘Iesus Christus heri et hodie: ipse et in saecula!’As St Paul says ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today—yes, and forever!'” [1]
  2. b) HOPE: “Never despair. Lazarus was dead and decaying:“iam foetet, quatriduanus est enim’—by now he will smell; this is the fourth day,’ Mary told Jesus. If you hear the inspiration of God and follow it— ‘Lazare, veni foras!’— ‘Lazarus, come forth!’—you will return to Life.” [2]
  3. c) THE DESIRE THAT GRACE AND CHARITY MIGHT TRANSFORM US AND LEAD US TO LIVE A SUPERNATURAL LIFE, WHICH IS THE LIFE OF CHRIST—IN OTHER WORDS, TO TRULY STRIVE TO BE SAINTS (cf. Col 3:1 & ff.) And also the desire to be cleansed of our sins in the Sacrament of Penance, which enables us to rise again to supernatural life (if we have lost it through mortal sin) and begin anew:nunc coepi(Ps 76:11).

Basic Bibliography

Catechism of the Catholic Church , 638-679; 1038-1041.

Recommended Reading

John Paul II, The Resurrection of Jesus Christ , Catechesis: 25 January 1989; 1 February 1989; 22 February 1989; 1 March 1989; 8 March 1989; 15 March 1989.


[1] St Josemaria, The Way, 584.

[2] Ibid, 719.

[3] St John Damascene, De fide ortodoxa, 4. 2: PG 94, 1104; cf. Catechism, 663.


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