September 29, 2007


General Outline
1. Eschatological hope
2. The Mystery of death
3. Judgement of God
4. Purification or purifying maturation
5. Darkness or hell
6. Resurrection of the dead
7. Blissful light
8. Parousia of the Lord
9. Symbolic and non symbolic language
10. False projections of judgement and after death
11. Basis for Eschatology in the resurrection of Jesus Christ
12. Time and eternity

The very word eschatology is rather unclear or mysterious. It is still a fast developing subject. The only thing that is clear to ordinary man is that there is death for all. There is too much of mythology regarding the ends of man.
Eschatology is a vision of God; a communion; a moving towards light which is God. Eschatology is the fullness of light. Eschatology is a fulfilment of the life of man – fulfilment of hope. Without hope there is no dynamism of life. GS speaks of the mission of the Church in the world which shares happiness and misery in life. Everybody looks for happiness, but they end up in misery. There is the problem of innocent suffering in the world. This makes people to think that how can a loving God allow this.

Individual eschatology and Common eschatology: Bible speaks of both these. It is the common eschatology that is given more importance. Salvation of the community (totality of mankind)is more important. Individual eschatology is studied only in relation to the community eschatology.

Limbo: it was believed that those who are not baptised or lived before Christ are kept in a place called ‘limbo’. The infants also are kept there.

Purgatory: A middle place. It is the place of continuing purification.
Limbo, Purgatory etc. are symbols. They indeed are good; but there are misuses of this.
Very few people are interested about the life after. All are thinking to this life and its pleasures. Many are agnostics because things after death are not clear. We do not have further revelation about the life after. Revelation is completed with Christ. Apostles are the direct witnesses of this revelation. We cannot give a rational teaching about any of these. It is based on Jesus. The centre of Christian hope is eschatology in the risen Jesus.
Jesus used symbols to speak about eschatology like kingdom of God or reign of God. It is God who is ruling and guiding the world. God has a definitive purpose regarding this world. We are looking foreword to the fulfilment of the kingdom of God.
Eschatology is the systematic reflection on the content of our Christian hope. It also deals with the risk or failure of not attaining the Christian hope.
Eschata means ‘ends’ or ‘outcomes’. Traditionally it meant ‘the last things’ – the four things: death, judgement, hell and heaven. It also dealt with discussions on purgatory, limbo and the end of the world. The traditional eschatology is in a lamentable situation, says Congar. The treatise on eschatology is still in its infancy, says Karl Rahner. Protestants also agrees with this.
Theology after Vatican II: it sees eschatology in a different perspective other than we find in the text books between Trent and Vatican II. The present emphasis is on the promised reign of God in human experience and in the whole creation.
The ultimate fulfilment is seen in the person of Jesus Christ. All the aspects of the question regarding man is dealt with in the light of the fully realised reign of God in Jesus Christ. Eschatology is the whole content of the gospel. Gospel is concerned with the salvation of the individual as well as the community. This emphasis on the reign of God in an evidence for the community dimension of hope. It speaks of the individual hope in the context of the general hope. Hope has essentially a transcendent dimension. But this emphasis on the reign of God is also this worldly. Christian hope is transcendental and mundane. There is wider hope for the world for which we have a responsibility. So eschatology deals not only what lies beyond death and history; it has an earthly dimension too. (Cf. Mystical and political dimension of faith, Concilium 1995, No 9). The notion of reign of God must be kept radically separate from question of political responsibility, says Ratzinger.
Reign of God is falsely interpreted. The present eschatology includes a worldly based eschatology. Reign of God is equated with the risen Christ by Ratzinger. Personal salvation is attained only by death. The growth of the kingdom is invisible. The Church is the initial budding stage of the kingdom (LG). There is no kingdom without the Church even though the institutional Church has its deficiencies. Humanity of Christ is the instrument for the word of God. In the same way the visible structure of the Church (which is the instrument of the Holy Spirit) is need for the growth of the kingdom of God. This notion gives increased hope for awaiting the kingdom. Kingdom is already; it depends on human acceptance. Its growth is invisible. Man has to live in total trust and in community with others. Know that God reigns; all the others will follow. Because of this approach of Jesus on the kingdom Jesus met with an early opposition. The theme of resurrection took place of the kingdom of God. By his death and resurrection the kingdom was inaugurated in a seminal way. The full manifestation is still to come. The expectation of another coming of Christ in glory is seen. 9I Cor 15, 23; 1 Thess 2, 19; 3, 13; 4, 15 – 18; Col 3, 4).

Characteristics of Christian eschatology
It is the risen Christ who unifies eschatology. The future fulfilment is not a place, but a person, the risen Christ himself. Eschatology is personal centred, i.e., it is Christocentric. Christ is the beginning and the end.
Ecclesial Character of eschatology
Church is understood as a community which has its origin in Jesus Christ himself, because Church is the fruit of the redemptive work of Christ. Eph 1, 4ff speaks of the nature of this community. Church is looking up foreword a fulfilment – union with the risen Christ.(Rev 22, 1 – 5). The Church moves towards the glorified and reigning Christ. We are liberated from limits of time and space. The risen Christ is the heaven; his loss is called ‘hell’.
Trinitarian character of eschatology
The risen Christ is the way to the father and to the Holy Spirit. So there is the communion with the Trinity.
Death is the central eschatological event. Man is constituted an integral person at his death. The fathers of the church emphasized the ecclesial and communitarian dimension of eschatology. So they emphasized on general judgement, communitarian aspect of resurrection and Parousia. They did not give importance to the retribution of the individual after death. It is reserved for the end for them.
Scholastic Period: Physical death and purgatory were emphasized. The multiplication of private masses, granting of indulgences etc. developed during this period. Fear and terror of death instead of confidence and trust developed. Gradually death became the central eschatological event. With death eternal life begins. It can be in the presence r in the absence of God. the individual meets the risen Christ who is the Eschaton.
The Futuristic Approach: Apocalyptic model: the destruction of everything by some force and a new beginning. The last time is already inaugurated in Jesus Christ. Future events are deeply rooted in the present. (The judgement is already here; whether we accept the truth which is given). But it is not yet fulfilled.
Eschatological Hope
What we believe is what is revealed. Content of our faith is what is revealed in it. Faith in the promises of Christ looks foreword for fulfilment. Faith opens up new expectations for the future. The glorified Christ and Christian hope together constitute our understanding of eschatology. 1 Cor 15: Resurrection of Christ and Christian hope. Faith and hope go together, having more or less same character. Hope (ελπις) is the trust in the person who speaks of acts. Ελπις is mainly found in St. Paul – placing one’s confidence. It is man’s total surrender to God.
Nature of Hope
The object of hope is ‘glory’ or ‘light’ (δοχα). Christian hope is a sharing in the glory of God and of Christ. Man is deprived of this glory or splendour of God (Rom 3, 23). Christian can rejoice in the hope of sharing the glory of God. (Rom 5, 20). The material universe also will share in this glory. (Rom 8, 19 – 22). Glory is specified as salvation, eternal life, redemption, resurrection inheritance, kingdom etc. (Eph 1, 18; Col 1, 5). The salvation, which is the object of Christian hope is centred around the risen Christ. We await this manifestation of Christ (1 Cor 1, 7), who will transform our bodies like his body. (Phil 3,21).
The Motive of Hope
1. The Promise: Christian hope starts with a promise – the promise made to Abraham. All the rest is a development of this promise made to Abraham. This promise is a promise filled with power – a word with power. Ex 3, 14; “Yahweh is He who will be”. He is mindful of what he has promised. This fidelity of Yahweh is a guarantee for further intervention in future. The promises are fulfilled in Jesus Christ. He is our inheritance. He is also our promise. We are also sharers of this promise in association with Christ. (Gal 3, 29) We await the full realization of this inheritance (Rom 8, 17; Eph 1, 13ff). The promises to Abraham is confirmed by an oath, i.e., God is bound to his promise. The firmness of Christian hope is the firmness of God himself.
2. The paschal mystery of Christ: The death and resurrection of Christ is the Christological foundation of hope. (1 Cor 15). Rom 8, 32: He was put to death for our sins and raised for our justification. Christ who died and rose is our intercessor. Rom 4, 25; 8, 32 – 34. The hope of resurrection of the body rests on Christ’s own resurrection. The resurrection of Christ is the first fruit of our resurrection. (1 Cor 15, 20). Without this our hope is empty.
3. The gift of the Spirit: The indwelling Spirit is the immediate cause of our hope. The spirit of the promise (Eph 1, 14). The indwelling Spirit is marked by incompleteness and it clamours for completeness. (2 Cor 1, 22). He (partial Spirit) is the first fruit, a seal, for fullness of possession. Rom 3, 28: We are justified and hope to attain salvation later. The present justification is a sure motive for the fullness of eschatological salvation. (a tension between already and not yet).
There are other aspects of Christian hope – sonship, sanctification, freedom – all these are partial realities, but with a sure foundation for fullness. (Gal 5, 5). Rom 5, 1 – 6; 8, 17 – 25: The present union with God I the Spirit is a motive of joyful hope for the future as well as trend in the afflictions of the present. Man expects and awaits the fullness of filiation. This is rooted in the presence of spirit in man.
4. Theological Motives: The faithful love of the Father, starting with the promise made to Abraham, the paschal mystery of Christ, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit – all these are manifestations of the faithfulness of the Father. Col 1, 25 – 27; Eph 1, 1 – 14. The motive of hope is reduced to the saving action i.e., the love of the Father manifested in the double gift of the Son and the Spirit. So we can think of the Trinitarian character of hope. (1 Pet 1, 3 – 6).
For John future realities are already present. We are in eternal life. Jn 17, 3: Eternal life means knowing God and the Son. In John we do not find the terminology of hope. The transition to eternal life is only a visible manifestation of the reality already possessed. Encouragement is given to the Christian engaged in struggle on earth. Rev 5, 11 – 14; 21, 22 – all the promises will be finally realized. The church looks confidently at the risen Lord – “I am coming”. The church in response prays “Maranatha”
The subjective realization of hope corresponds to the objective reality of the Father’s fidelity manifested in Christ and the Spirit, as the guarantee of the Christian eschatological salvation. Paul’s emphasis is on future realities. For John it is already present. But both are essential.
(Antinomies of Hope
Confidence – Uncertainty
Joy - Fear)

Contemporary pastoral approach towards death:
Death is the reward of sin. it is a consequence of sin. In other words, death is a punishment for sin. (Gen 2, 19).
Death is something that brings about fear. But it should be brought down. Death is a natural event; it is a natural end. Because man also is a part of nature. Death for a Christian is a sharing in the paschal mystery of Christ.
Traditionally there are three important themes regarding death: 1. Origin of death: Death is a punishment for sin (Council of Trent). They refer to the sin of Adam. He is punished; he had already been warned that if he sins he would die. But it cannot absolutely be said because death is a natural event. So we must combine both. Christ’s death is natural, because he was just like a human being. Or he took the punishment for our sins. So both these aspects should taken together when we speak of death. 2. the generality of death: all human beings subject Old Testament the original sin are subject to the law of death. The universality of death is based on the universality of original sin (Rom 5, 12). It is appointed to man once to die. Heb 5, Gen 5, 24; Eccl 44, 16. 2 Kings 2, 11. Henoch and Elijah did not undergo death. They will appear in the second coming.
1 Cor 15, 51: significance of death: with death the possibility of merit, demerit or conversion ceases. the impossibility of justification after death is taught by Vatican I.
Lk 16, 26
Jn 9,4: night and day: Night = the time when no man can work.
2 Cor 5, 10: All must appear for judgement.
Gal 6, 10: Do good when you have time.
Rev. 2, 10
The common teaching of the Fathers: The time for conversion and penance is limited for this life (E.g. Cyprian says that it is here below the life is lost or won). People should make use of life on earth to gain ever lasting life. Death is the end of man’s probation. His status as a sojourner comes to an end.
Greek and Semitic Approach to Man: Greeks speak of dualism of body and soul. Death is a separation of body and soul. According to the Semitic people death is a natural corruption of the body. Old Testament understanding is that to die means to sleep with the Fathers. They had a hope to die in a good old age, i.e., after a long life. According to the wisdom literature man’s death is natural just like any other being. (Eccl 3, 9). The fate of man of beast are the same – comes and returns to the dust.
Mosaic Literature: (Written in Post Exilic Period). A new approach to death, more juridical in character is seen. (Sin and death). it could be the result of Babylonian captivity. this is seen in the description of paradise. Gen 2, 17; 3, 17 – 19. Primary issue is not death; but life here. The punishment terminates with death. Death is not seen as the part of punishment. After undergoing punishment he will die because man is naturally mortal. Death is closely connected with sin; but not presented as the direct consequence of sin.
New Testament
1. Death as the end of man’s probation: Jn 9, 4ff; Mt 25, 31ff; Lk 16, 19ff. Take these texts as a comprehensive testimony. Nothing is said about the possibility of change after death. The emphasis is on this side of the eternity.
2. death as the wages of sin. (St. Paul). He explains everything in relation to the divine plan of salvation. (Eph 3, 9). This plan is now revealed to the saints (Col 1, 26). Paul’s approach is essentially eschatological; it is cantered around the resurrection of Christ. Rom 5, 12 – 14: Justification is through observance of the law. This he explains in relation to Gen 2 and 3. law becomes the occasion for sin and death. (Rom 7, 7 – 13). Law is harmful because it awakens consciousness of sin. If there was no law sin would have been remained dormant. Death is caused by sin. (sin is made conscious of by law) and it is rendered by its close align, i.e., law. Relationship between law, sin and death is essential to understand Rom 7, 7 – 13. Before the coming of law is was not imputable. If no law, no imputation. Sin refers to the personal sin (amartia). In the absence of positive law man can and did sin; i.e., sinning against his conscience (Rom 2, 14 – 16). Paul refers to Adam – Christ relationship. If Adam exercised such destructive influence through sin and death, the salvific influence of Christ is greater. Man collaborated Adam’s sin through man’s personal sins. Adam’s sin the power of sin and man’s personal sin are important.
The Spiritual conception: Rom 7, 9; 8, 13; Eph 2, 1 – 5; Col 2, 13; Rev 3, 11; 1 Jn 3, 14: Man’s personal sin induces not physical death, but spiritual death. Spiritual death is a state of alienation from the God of life. Wis 2, 23ff interprets Gen 2 in the sense of spiritual death.
Both juridical and spiritual conceptions connect the relation between sin and death. The juridical approach explains both spiritual and physical death, whereas the spiritual trend considers death only spiritually. No biblical author explains the death of the body as an effect of man’s sin. 1. Physical death is man’s natural destiny unrelated to sin. 2. We can consider bodily death as a symbol of the state of alienation from God induced by sin rather than the effect of sin. 3. Death as a passage into the risen Christ: Death of Christ is a passage from darkness to life. Mk 15, 33: when he died darkness disappeared – an apocalyptic description of Christ’s death. Before his death there came darkness. With his death begins a new day. Jesus’ death is a passage to the beatifying passage to the father. This passage is a response to his prayer: “Father glorify me with your glory.” Jn 17, 5: death and exaltation are the two aspects of Doxa (glory). The dark night of Friday is expelled by the splendour of Easter. Jesus becomes a life giving spirit. Cor 15, 45. the death of a Christian is similar to the death of Christ. A Christian no more has the fear of death. Heb 2, 9: In tasting death Christ stood for us all. He has liberated all who were in fear of death. He has destroyed Satan by his death, who has power over death.(Heb 2, 14ff). he did not suppress death for the Christian, but transformed it into a source of life. A Christian is not exempt from death, but drawn to the paschal death of Christ. Redemption is sharing in the paschal death of Christ.
St. Paul
He speaks of death as a sacrifice – a re production of Calvary. He speaks of his death as a sacrifice. (Phil 2, 17). In 2 Tim 4, 6 also he speaks of his own death. Sacrifice has two aspects. 1. Annihilation or self commitment. 2. Acceptance. Death as a sacrifice implies acceptance (Resurrection). Both life and death are connected with the Lord. Phil 1, 21 – 23: Death is a necessary means to reach risen Christ. It is almost a supernatural concupiscence to depart and be with Christ. To die means to be in union with the risen Lord. Thess 1, 17: Meeting the risen Lord.
2 Cor 5, 6 – 8. Christian is in exile and long for a dwelling place in heaven.
St. John’s Theology of Death
He also speaks of the paschal character of death – passing from darkness to light. Basing on Gen 2 and 3 John speaks of the theme of death – tree of life and living water. This symbols are used very much in Revelation. Rev 1, 1: Christ the living God. His victory is extended to all Christians from the tree of life. (Rev 2, 7). They receive immortal life. A second death is inaccessible to them. (Rev 2, 11). They have an active role in the kingdom (2, 26 – 28). They reign in the kingdom of heaven. Their names are written in the book of life of the lamb. They participate I the power of the living God.(3, 1; 21, 7). The first death or physical death is unimportant for John. The second death is final and eternal (at the time of judgement). Judgement means, judgement of the denial and of those whose names are not found in the book of life.
In the gospel he speaks about Christ as the principle of light and life.(Jn 11). The resuscitation of Lazarus illustrates John’s understanding of death. It is a sign of the eternal life to be imparted in its fullness to Christian after death. It is a symbol of Christians’ passage from death to eternal life. Just as Lazarus came into life the Christians also will enter into life. Those who have received the gift of faith will not have a spiritual death. Faith in Jesus transforms the meaning of death. He who believes in him will never die. The first gift of the father is faith in Jesus which brings along with it a second gift – passage from death into eternal life.
Both Paul and John view death as an unavoidable transition to life with Christ. The light of risen Christ dispels fear and terror because dying Christians move into the hands of the living God. Gs 45; LG 48 – 51.
Death – Activity or Passivity?
Some theologians says death is sheer contemplation and passion; not an activity of man. We do not manage to die; it is something which happens to us. We do not surrender ourselves; we are taken. According to Schillebeeckx death itself is an act.
Rahner and others speaks of death as active. Death is a final ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to God and an act of surrender or rebellion. The final act (death) is a personal consummation of one’s life. “As you live, so you die:”
Death is an act. Man’s compost structure as nature and person: as nature man undergoes death. This is a necessary rupture; the end of the pilgrimage. At the same time it is the natural fulfilment of the human person. Man is destroyed from without; man completes himself from within. The death of Christ: In Calvary Jesus effects an active surrender – a consummation from within. Christ’s death is active because 1. his death is considered as a sacrifice (Eph 5, 2)which implies an active surrender and an acceptance by the father. 2. Christ’s death is the sealing of the covenant. (Heb 9, 11 – 22). Both these implies a free activity from the part of Christ.
Medical science also speaks of death as a gradual process which implies the possibility of death as an active surrender.
Pastoral Point of Death.
Some say that one undergoes five stages in death:
1. Denial and isolation: he denies that death is going to happen
2. Reaction: of anger – why should I undergo such experience? Anger towards God and fellowmen. – a stage of bargaining with God.
3. Stage of depression: A process of realisation of facts as true.
4. Resignation: They become sadly fatalistic about the inevitable end
5. Acceptance: No one escape from death – An inner and outer peace.
Some others add a sixth stage:
6. Stage of hope: Death is not the end- like Job – finding God (Job 19, 25 – 26)
People must be guided to accept death and have hope.
Particular and general judgement: they are to be understood as complementary; not at two times. General is the fulfilment of the finality of all creations. No one escapes the judgement.
Mt 25. Right, left etc. are apocalyptic descriptions. It is not a judgement for all people; but for those who have not received faith i.e., for non believers. Even they have the possibility of salvation. According to some of the new Testament texts it is the Father who is the judge.(Mt 10,28). Christ here is only an advocate Rom 8, 31; 12, 19; 8,3; 3, 25; Rev 4, 11.
Jesus as the Supreme Judge: Mt 7, 22; Lk 17, 24: day of the son of man; Mt 16, 27; Mt 25, 34; 2 Cor 5, 10 – Tribunal of Christ; 2 Tim 4, 1; Rev 19,15 – Wrath of the judgement of the lamb; Risen Christ as the judge – Acts 10, 41; 17,31; Rev 1, 12 – 16 Dan 7, 13; Rev 2, 12 – 16; 19,15 - 21 – Christ is made judge by Father himself. Rom 1, 4: Fullness of life and light 1 Cor 15, 45. It is not Christ who judges; but he is the criterion of judgement. It is the faith that judges. Faith in the incarnation saves us. Unbelief excludes us from salvation. Incarnation is important because it is rooted in God’s love itself – giving his own son. God’s love is the origin of judgement. Unbelief in this love pronounces the judgement –i.e., love is turned to judgement. Saving faith in Jesus is the fundamental decision in man’s judgement.
Meaning of Judgement: Krinein means separation. Judgement is separation. (Mt 13, 24 – 30; Mt 13, 37 – 50; Mt 25, 31 – 46 – the eschatological state of the gentiles. (Cf. NJBC Mt 25).
Mt 10, 32 ff – Judgement of the disciples. Judgement is an explanation of the salvific plan of God. It speaks also of judgement by work and judgement by faith. Faith is operative I works of charity (Gal 5, 6). But good works are not sufficient – faith and baptism (Church) also are needed. (Jn 3, 5).
Universal Judgement: (MT 13, 28ff): but the individuals are not free; they also are judged. (Mt 24, 40; 13, 37). The judgement of them is based on the use of the talents.
Judgement as light: The word ‘light’ in john is equal to ‘separation’ in synoptics. Some texts say Christ came to judge; others say he did not come to judge. That means his purpose is salvation. The judgment is based on light – on the acceptance or rejection of light. Christ came as light to save and not condemn. The separation or acceptance is based on man’s wilful acceptance or rejection flesh this light. Jn 3, 9 gives the definition of the judgment: Light came to the world, but all loved darkness. Openness to the light is the judgment of salvation and closing oneself to the light of Christ is judgment or damnation. It is man who passes judgment on himself and it is accepted by Christ. Divine life is separating light which effects and creates the eschatological community.
Judgement – Present or future? In John we see both. But the emphasis is more on the present than the future. Jn 5, 26 – 30; Futuristic eschatology
Jn 5, 19 – 25: Realised eschatology (Present).
Judgement as Resurrection
The connection between the two is rather difficult. They are not different episodes. 1 Thess 4, 14 – 17; 2 Cor 5, 1 – 10: Judgement and resurrection in the same passage. There is no place for a general judgement after the resurrection. Men are raised to glory. This divine action constitute their judgement. There is the possession of essential beatitude by the just following the particular judgement. Baptismal justification: man is intrinsically transformed in baptism. The eschatological judgement manifests this transformation. It is a divine action. The resurrection (the judgement) is God’s action.
The Pneumetological Character of Judgement
It is the action of the Spirit which is the criterion of judgment. Sprit arouses a confident effectuation of our final salvation. Those who possess the Spirit will be judged by the law of liberty. Jas 2, 12. they long for the Lord’s coming. 1 Cor 16, 22: and they are saved in Spirit. Rom 8, 24: and they appear will with Christ in glory. Col 3, 4: they will finally become the possession of the Father, because they are sealed by the pledge of the Spirit.
Non Christians will be judged according to their conscience. Rom 2, 14 – 16. the conscience is the charter of judgement approving or condemning their action. Mt 21, 31ff: a classical text on judgement. The designation ‘last judgement’ is somewhat misleading. The core is following Jesus’ moral teaching. Faith in Jesus must transform the disciple. Man is judged on those things that he has not accustomed to consider as duties. Basing on this we can say, eschatology means man is capable of a final decision that gives his life a permanent character. Both wicked and righteous have made decisions which are irrevocable. The theme is base on the identity of Jesus with man. There is no substitute for active love. Love determines whether men are good or bad. Mt 25 has no parallel in Luke and Mark. Luke stresses the ‘importance of immediate retribution’. Lk 16, 23, 43. For John it is primarily a present reality rooted on incarnation. Judgement for him is not so much a divine sentence, as the revelation of the secret of human heart. The last judgement will reveal the divisions already present in human heart. The main thrust is not the chronology (when will it take place), but the ethical message.
In the Early Church
Judgement is mostly spoken as judgment as something happens in the past. There is no final retribution immediately after death. The emphasis was on Christ who will come to judge. (Futuristic). This was based on apocalyptic texts.
There came a change in The Middle Ages. Judgement was seen both as present and future. Man’s retribution immediately after death, and also general judgement (Future). Pope Benedict XII (1336) Benedictus Deus(Cf. ND 2307).
Theological observations on General and Particular Judgements: the traditional explanation separating them with time is problematic. Because after death man has a timeless existence, without any temporal succession of moments. Also resurrection takes place probably immediately after death. General and particular looks at man as an individual as well as a social being. The perfection of an individual is at his dearth. It will have some influence on the entire body of the people of God;. The community as a whole will attain its perfection at the time of the Parousia. These two judgement are to be considered as tow mutually complementary phases. So there is one judgement and not two.
We have two series of texts. 1. which does not connect judgement with the end of time. 2. judgement at the end of time. But there is no contradiction between these. God through Christ would judge all men. This judgement takes place when man confronts Christ directly at his death. (Heb 9, 27). It is appointed for man to die once and after that comes judgement, the only judgement which can decide man’s eternal destiny.
Purifying Maturation
Purgatory purgare = Purify
The doctrine of purgatory is the best example for man’s intrinsic sinfulness. It is the purifying process of the Holy Spirit leading us to toe purgatorial cleansing. Some of the scriptural passages: 2 Macc 12, 39 -46: the only place referring to inter mediary state between beatitude and damnation. In this stage they can be helped by prayers and sacrifices. This text is only support for the doctrine of purgatory. There are faults which deserve punishment.
1Cor 3, 10 – 15: this is a classical text on purgatory. Some will be punished of the works they have done. Only their works will be destroyed; the persons will be saved. The reward of the apostolic work varies depending on the quality of the work.
Heb 12, 1; 13, 7: both these exhort the people to follow the example of the dead leaders. This text does not ask to pray for them.
1 Thess 4, 13 – 18: Those who are lost . It also does not say that we need to pray. This verse just consoles people.
Acts 12, 1- 5: Death of Jacob: the community prays for Peter who is alive, and not for James who is dead. But from these we cannot deduce that there is no doctrine about praying for the dead only because that they are silent about this.
Patristic Teaching
The custom of praying for the dead started from the beginning of the second century. The earliest source is Tertullian. At the death of Polycarp (156), there is a commemoration of him at his tomb. By the close of the second century the prayer for the dead developed among fathers and liturgical prayers. The Acts of the Martyrs testifies that they celebrated Eucharist and commemorated martyr’s memory at the tomb. Cyprian says that martyrdom is full atonement and therefore there is no more purification. All the sins are expiated by the suffering. It is different from long and continuous cleansing by fire.
Augustine speaks of temporal punishment to be expiated both in this life and after. Some suffer it both in this life and after. Those in between blessed and damned can benefit from suffrages. Origen (254) advocates the need of purification for all the debts. All have to undergo purification. The wicked is purified through hell fire and the just through purgatorial fire. (for those who have received baptism).
Ancient Christian grave inscriptions beseech peace and quickening for the dead.
Theologically speaking cleansing fire is derived form the concept of sanctity and justice of God. Sanctity demands only completely pure soul can be assumed into heaven (Rev 21, 27). Justice of God demands that punishment of sin still is to be satisfied. Those who are united with God in love cannot be cast into hell. Therefore an intermediary state is needed for final purification, which is then only for a limited time or period.
The western church speaks of purgation according to legal terms. Eastern fathers see purification in terms of maturation and growth in contemplation of God; it is not a punishment.
Catholics and Protestants: Protestants speaks of salvation by faith alone. They deny praying for the dead. Council of Trent answers this. Councils of Florence and Lyons speak of the approaches of East and West.
Though there is no explicit teaching in the New Testament about praying for the dead it cannot be negatively interpreted. Both practice of praying for the dead and doctrine of purgatory are to be considered as a positive development in accordance with the scriptures. This is especially based on the Eucharistic doctrine of scripture with it double emphasis on thanksgiving and intercession. This development has further roots: 1. it is based on the communion of saints. The Church began to ray to the martyrs for their intercession 2. the intercessory power of the Eucharistic memorial was extended in praying for the dead. 3. further reflection in this practice led the Church to the doctrine of the purgatory. The liturgical practice precedes theological reflection. That means they are post biblical developments in time with the Spirit of the New Testament.
Mt 12, 32: Need of purification: Gregory the great says that many sins can be forgiven in the world to come. Mt 5: those who did not fulfil the Christian brotherly love have a time limited punishment. Tertullian speaks of a time limited punishment I the prison (underworld). But Church does not teach this.
[purification fire, purifying punishment –poena purgaoria, poena sensus- physical suffering. Beth Purkana = House of Salvation = purgatory].
Mt 25, 41: Depart from me you curse; go to eternal fire.
There is a close relation between sin death. Death includes judgement and condemnation. If sin leads to death, so it is sin that leads to hell. It is not God who puts one in the bell, but sin. Hell is a kind of absence of relationship with God.
1 Jn 4, 8: whoever does not love, does not know God, for God is love. The motive of incarnation is this love, not judgement, but love alone. The essence of God in New Testament is love itself. Hell is to be understood only in light of the love of God or heaven. Salvation ever since incarnation is Christ centred. Heaven is essentially the person of risen Christ. Heaven is to be in the person of risen Christ. To be away from him means to be in the hell. There is the universal salvific will of God. When we think of this hell is incomprehensible.
(the way of presentation cannot be considered as revelation or as reality. E.g. ‘Hell fire’.)
The Nature of Hell
Old Testament: Israel believed in a nether world called Sheol. It is the living place of all the living – not only of the condemned. All the living will go to it. There no one can praise God. There is no contact between God and man there in the sheol. This tragic aspect of death is the fruit of sin. This is a place of dirt. (Isa 14, 11? Or 40,11?). the life in sheol: it affects all men and it is the house for all the living it is the place of union with the ancestors and it is the only attractive element in it. But it is a life away from God.
Later sheol came to be understood as a place of retribution for the wicked only. A parallel word Hades takes place I the New Testament = the place of the wicked. Later Gehenna takes the place of Hades. Hades became a waiting place for resurrection.
The non permanent character of sheol and hades is similar to the character of purgatory. This character depends on the character of God, because he is the master of life and death. Later there came a hope for final accomplishment.
New Testament on Hell
New Testament witnesses varies and there is no unanimity. Description of hell varies according to different authors. Mt 25, 31 – 46; Depart from me to the eternal fire. Mt 13, 24 – 43: Parable of the wheat and weeds. The Wicked will be thrown into furnace, where there is grinding of teeth. (these are only peripherals). Mt 13, 47 – 50 : parable of the net – separation of the good and the wicked. Mt 22, 1 – 14; wedding feast. - ‘I do not know.’ Mt 22: Parable of the talents. The lazy was sent out into dark. All these parables are related to eschatological time. Separation and rejection takes place at the end of time. Jesus’ discourse about the nature of the hell: he preaches the good new of the kingdom. To motivate people to accept kerygma he proposes the theme of hell. (E.g. Punishment for behaviour against brotherly relation Mt 5, 22. the emphasis is on love, not on hell. The same threat is seen in teaching on chastity. 5, 25.). in Chapter 7, 21 – 23 : those who refuses to obey the word of God is throne out of his side. The idea can be seen in discourse on scandal (Mt 9, 40 – 48; Cf Isa 66? Or 56 , 24ff).
Gospel of John
He does not use the metaphor of fire. But he uses ‘darkness, second death judgement’ etc. this doctrine is based on his christocentric understanding of light and life. Eternal life has appeared in Jesus’ life. This life is light. (Jn 1, 4). It consists in the knowledge of the Father (life and light). Knowing the son is life and light. Coming of Christ puts and end to darkness. He is both life and light. At the end who are cut off from Jesus are handed over to darkness and death. This is second death and it is the definitive separation from the glory of risen Christ. The privation of the doxa (splendour) is hell for John. The damned will be deprived of the lamb and of his father. He who disobeys the son will not see light. God’s wrath is upon him. This idea is equivalent to his idea of judgement. For john judgement means condemnation.
St. Paul
St. Paul speaks of death and punishment in reference to God’s justice. He emphasises on life and salvation rather than death and punishment. The justice of God demands punishment for retribution (Rom 2, 5 – 10). Death is the wages of sin for him. (Rom 6, 23). Sinners will have no share in the kingdom of God. (1 Cor 6, 10). It is fearful to fall into the hands of the loving God. (Heb 16, 26 – 31).
The synoptics, especially Matthew, James, 2 Peter and Revelation: The language and image is of contemporary apocalyptic literature. Therefore they cannot be taken literally. Others do not use the Jewish apocalyptic language because it is not suitable for other people.
Theological Reflections on Hell
1. Pain of loss: Hell is the result of man’s self centeredness and impenitent self decision. God does not destroy man’s decision and freedom, says Schuler. Rejection of God’s love or separation from God continues and this state is called hell.
2. God is a God of love now and we cannot say that he turns to be a God of punishment at the moment of man’s death. God’s love is immutable. So hell is not due to God’s wrath, but due to man’s self determination and free activity.
Mt 25, 4: “Depart from me you Cursed” is to be seen comparing to Hos 22: “I will not execute my fierce anger for I am God and not man”. 1 Jn 4, 8 – 10 says God is love.
3. Man’s obduracy: man is essentially free and it continues in hell. There is no more flow of grace as was during his life time. God is beyond man’s reach. The pain of loss is due to the ontological state of man. Man has an ontological desire to see God. this desire is the proof of God’s love. This desire becomes a torture. It is a man made hell.
Theologically speaking fire is a symbol of God’s wrath. Wrath means impossibility of reconciling between God and sin. man through sin cuts himself off from God. this eternal separation is fire.
Lake of fire (Rev 20, 10): It is a symbol of man’s eternal separation from God. the contrast is between light and hell. The beatifying presence of God is light (heaven). His painful absence is symbolized by hell and fire. More than the loss of God fire represents the internal pain in man’s conscience for the loss of God’s presence.
Cf. LG 48 – 51.
Resurrection of the dead
what is the difference between the resurrection of the dead and of the body? Or is it only the immortality of the body? The resurrection is based on the resurrection of Jesus. John and Paul have something special about the resurrection.
Jn 11, 25: “I am the resurrection and life.” The resurrection of the body as ‘soma’ and not ‘sarx’. Soma is person itself, sarx is flesh only. Soma denotes to the whole person. The evolution of this belief in Israel: what is the nature of the continuity of life? In Old Testament life is the supreme gift promised to the Patriarchs – life for long centuries – feeling of the security of life in God’s presence. Resurrection means true happiness is not in material prosperity, but in friendship with God.
Divine justice and retribution: It is an essential element in Israelite religion. This hope is not applied always in this life. So they hoped a just divine retribution after death. Isa 26, 19: It is an indication of the rising hope. Ezek 37, 1 – 14: Dry bones. It is not regarding the bodily resurrection, but the Messianic liberation of the community. The new creation is the work of God. Dan 12, 1 – 3: a clear testimony in reference to the resurrection after life: the martyrs will be awarded after death. 2 Macc 7, 9ff: An explicit popular belief I resurrection. The theology of martyrdom and resurrection is seen here. 2 Macc 12, 41 – 45: All these explains the Old Testament idea of resurrection.
In the New Testament: The culmination of it is found in John and Paul. The Christological character is seen. Mt 22, 23 – 33: Nature of future life. Resurrection exists, not in a material sense, but in a spiritual sense. John says resurrection is the fruit of faith and Eucharist. Jn 5, 19 – 25; 5, 26 – 30 (apocalyptic language)- future nature of resurrection. This thought give way to the realized nature of eschatology. Basis of resurrection is faith in the father through the son. Life includes resurrection. Fullness of life includes resurrection. Jn 11, 22 – 26: symbol of the fullness of resurrection of one who believes in Jesus. Faith of the Old Testament is deepened by associating it with Jesus Christ.
Jn 6, 54 -58: Eucharist: The reception of the Eucharist assures the final resurrection. The life communicated through Eucharist is communitarian, which ultimately proceeds from the Father Himself. It connects Jesus’ resurrection and our own. Acts 24, 14 ff: Paul speaks of the resurrection of the good and wicked. Heb 6, 1 – 2: Paul speaks of resurrection based on Christ and the Holy spirit. (Christological and Pneumetological). 1 Cor 15: Without the resurrection of Christ preaching is impossible.
Characteristics of the Risen Soma
1. Splendour (doxa): The doxa of the Father- the luminous body at mount Tabore. The risen body will be enveloped by this glory.
2. Incurruption: It is the result of fullness of life. In resurrection all bodily necessities like nutrition, procreation etc. will perish.
3. Soma pneumaticon (Spiritual Body): Resurrection means, the flowering of the indwelling Spirit. 1 Cor 15, 51 – 58: Transformation of both the living and the dead. The dead will be transformed like Jesus at resurrection. The living as Jesus at transfiguration. Rom 8, 11 emphasises the pneumatic character of resurrection.
The Christian is in the risen Lord and the Spirit dwells in him. Immanence and indwelling are inseparable. In resurrection our soma will be fully possessed by the Spirit of the Lord.
Theological Reflections:
Formerly the preaching of the church on resurrection was on minor issues like nature of resurrection, its manner etc.
Identity of the body; it is to be understood on the basis of resurrection and Easter appearance of Jesus’ risen body. It is different from the physical body (because it was difficult to identify him; he appeared in another form). There is an identity of the person. But the form is different. The appearance of Jesus are pictorial narration by a historical and objective appearance. Paul also had a similar experience. Acts 9, 3ff. Paul testifies he saw the risen Lord himself. That means the risen Jesus has a new transfigured body, i.e., a spiritual body. 1 Cor 15, 44.
Man’s resurrection: What is said about Jesus’ risen body agrees with Paul’s saying about our body. There is a continuity of the person, but in a different form. Man will raise with a spiritualised body.
Resurrection and baptism
Resurrection is the culmination of the baptismal life. It is not something happens after death alone. It starts from baptism. The connection between baptism and resurrection is seen in Eph 5, 26; Rom 6, 4. They are two phases of a single movement. Our inward man is renewed day by day. 2 Cor 4, 16. Dogma of the resurrection of the dead is a pneumatic action. It should be understood in relation to Christ’s resurrection, man’s initial resurrection at baptism, Eucharistic communion and the proper resurrection.

“Apocalyptism” in The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, Supplementary Volume
Moltmann, Theology of Hope
Moltmann, The Coming of God: Christian Eschatology
Moltmann, The Future of Creation
Richardson, “Hope” in A New Dictionary of Christian Theology
‘Hope” in Sacramentum Mundi
Theology of Hope: On the Ground and implication of Hope
“Hope” in Dictionary of Biblical Theology
“Elpis” in TDNT
Karl Rahner, “The Hermeneutics of Eschatological Assertion” in Theological Investigation 4, 323 – 354.
Karl Rahner, “Theology of Hope” in Theological Investigation 10, 242 – 250.
Peter C. Phan, Eternity in Time: A study of Karl Rahner’s Eschatology
Schanckenburg, God’s Rule and Kingdom: A Thorough study of Biblical Eschatology
J. Richards, Death and after
Monika Hellwie, Death and Hope
Mussnar Faranz, ed., Readings in Christian Eschatology
Karl Rahner, Theology of death
Concilium 4
Boros, We are Future


The work of the Spirit of God is manifested in the history of salvation, in the prehistoric narratives, patriarchal history the mission of the prophets, life and mission of Jesus and the life of the church.

Bible is the book of the people of God. God is the agent and the content of the divine revelation. The intervention of the God in history aims at the salvation of the people. Thus the salvation history becomes the history of the people of God. The divine intervention can be manifested through different stages and those stages can be seen as the work of the Spirit of god. We shall try to see those stages or the work of the Spirit of God in this endeavor.

They can be grouped as the following.
1. creation of the universe - pre-historical narratives
2. vocation of the forefathers –Abraham to Moses
3. formation of a nation- Moses to David
4. Preparation for the immediate intervention of God (through prophets, kings and other messiahs)-David to Christ.
5. actualization of the promises (salvation through Jesus messiah-Christ )
6. Continuation of the effect of the salvation- Through Church till the second coming.

1. Creation of the Universe and Man

The bible begins by explaining the origins of the world and of the mankind. We do not go detail into the reasons why these first twelve chapters were included in the sacred scripture though it has no historical evidences but we concentrates on the divine intervention of the Spirit of God. At the very beginning of the bible we read that the Spirit of God was hovering over the water. And we see two creation accounts in the genesis- 1, 1- 2, 4 and 2, 4 - 3, 24. These two narratives are complementary and logical though they are from two different sources (j&p). The first narration relates to the creation of the universe the summit of which is the man and the second account to the man’s creation and the destiny. The work of the Spirit is well manifested in the creation of the world because the Spirit of God imparted an order to the universe where there was only chaos and disorder. Moreover the earth was null and void. It has been pointed out that the work of creation was set forth in an order that moves from the general to the particular and from the less perfect to the more perfect: and the plan and the divine intervention in the creation can be seen better in the systematic arrangement and the decoration of the universe. We shall see the work of the spirit in the creation briefly in the following chart.

Separation Decoration
God separates light from darkness God makes sun, moon
and the stars
He separates water above from water below. He adorns air with the birds and the
water with the fishes
He separates the dry land from the waters below. God decorates the earth with
beasts and MAN
The God rests on the 7th day as man should rest on the Sabbath

Thus the world was created by the wisdom of the lord; everything was planned in order and harmony. God created the world with his omnipotence. “God said…and it was so”. God’s words to man and the woman (1, 27) reveal the special intervention of God in forming the first man and the woman. The dignity of man lies in the image and likeness of God.
The second creation account of man situates the context of the salvation history. Having described the formation of the man and the woman and their first state it records the fall and its consequences and indicates the need of man to be saved. Adam is created from the clay and the breath of God. It means man is different from all other creatures. Though he is like God he is not God; though he is like beasts he is not one of the beasts.
There is a continuous progress in the narratives of the book of Genesis. The whole book speaks of the sin of man, punishment by God and the mercy of God. The third chapter describes it. Man rebelled against God through his inordinate pride and disobedience. The punishment naturally followed it. They were expelled from the paradise. Thus Satan, sin and death came into the world. But the mercy of God did not abandon them. God offered them a saviour. This part is called the proto evangelium (3, 15). The following chapters mainly elaborate these themes. The sin of Cain, followed by the punishment and the mercy of God, the expansion of the sin in the 6th chapter and the punishment of the flood and the covenant of God, and finally the sin of Babel and the punishment of the chaotic language give proof to this. But we do not see the promise or the mercy of God in this section but the author logically connects this part with the call of Abraham.
Here we see a background for the whole drama of the history of salvation and through the call of Abraham God unfolds the salvation history.

2. Vocation of Forefathers –Abraham to Moses
At this point the story of mankind was moving not in the way God intended. The movement has been away from God to the kingdom of Satan. So God wanted to call mankind back to his presence. The chapter 12 onwards we see it. He elected Abraham as the vessel of salvation. He offered him a land, prosperity and prosperity. He shall be a blessing for the whole generation (12, 1-3). The work of God can be seen more clearly at this point. He elected Abraham to be his man and a generation. Then God promised him of the future. Finally God made a covenant with him. These three things become the undercurrent of the history of salvation of the Old Testament. The promise of the prosterity is being fulfilled through the birth of a son Isaac and Abraham reaffirmed his faith in God in the mount of Moria. Thus the aged man and the woman Sara had their children by the power of the work of God and Abraham was known as the father of the faithful in the history of salvation. The story of Isaac was eclipsed by the story of Abraham and the story of Jacob. Still we see God renewing with him the promise made to his father.
God selected Jacob as his dear. We do not know the reason. It is His decision. He was made prominent over his brother and he was given the birth right. However he was also cheated by his uncle Laban. Jacob had 12 sons when he returned to his father’s land. On the way to his land God encountered with him at Peniel and he was renamed as Israel. Henceforth story of Israel is unfolded. The 12 sons of Jacob- Israel is called the head of the 12 tribes. Even at the time of famine the Israel was sent to Egypt and God protected their lives. As a means to it the slavery of Joseph caused by the envy of the other 11 brothers was made a blessing. Thus the whole tribes of Israel came to Egypt.

3. Formation of a nation- Moses to David
The people of Israel became so strong in Egypt and the rulers of Egypt feared that the sons of Jacob would out number the Egyptians. Hence they started to persecute them. God listened to their cry and he called Moses to be their saviour. God gave him the power to impress the Pharaoh and also God revealed to him the name-YHWH. Moses worked ten miracles in Egypt of which the last one made the Egyptians let Israelites go away. Thus there came the practice and the feast of Passover.
The journey of the people from Egypt to the Promised Land was the manifestation of God’s power. By the work of the Spirit of God Israelites crossed over the red see miraculously. God accompanied them in the desert as the pillar of cloud and the fire protecting them from all dangers. He gave them water at Meriba..., punished and rescued them at the time of their disobedience, nourished them with Manna and quails. The Israelites were a disorganized group when they started their journey. As they proceeded they had to fight with many gentile inhabitants of Canaan. All these experiences were the part of their formation and God was directing them to the Promised Land. These are the years of training in obedience and trust in the providence of God. These were the period when Israelites rebelled severely against God and these were the period when they experienced divine providence abundantly. Only in the desert they adopted a common life, purpose, law and a leadership and gradually the mob became a people. When the God commanded them to make an ark of the covenant and the tent of the Tabernacle they were becoming a religious community. God made a covenant with them in the Mount Sinai and through that covenant they became the sons of God and God became their father. The history of salvation got a pace and a direction at the Sinai covenant. Thus Moses became the mediator and the saviour in the salvation history of Israel and promised them a prophet like Moses in the future (Deut 18, 15).
When Moses died Joshua took the leadership of the people. The task before him was to cross over the river Jordan and conquer the Canaanites. God worked miracle when the foot of the preists who carried the Ark of the Covenant touched the waters of the river. The people walked through the dried land when the waters withdrew. They conquered Canaanites at Jericho only with the power of God. Within a short period they conquered the whole land and shared the land. Thus they became a nation without a king and the promise given to Abraham was fulfilled partly. All these period God elected judges to guide and protect the people from all the dangers and keep them in unity.
The last of these judges and the first of the prophets was Samuel. YHWH worked in him and he led the people with all the vigour of the Spirit of God. When the people demanded for a king after the manner of their neighboring nations he anointed Saul first as their king and later David. David was an extra ordinary man; YHWH miraculously raised him to the throne of the people of god. He was a shepherd boy, warrior, hero, resourceful lover, bandit chieftain, poet, king, sinner, penitent, indulgent father, faithful friend, founder of an eternal dynasty etc.

4. Preparation for the immediate intervention of God-(David to Christ.)
During the reign of David a new direction was given to the hope of salvation. While he was mindful of building a house for the lord, the Lord promised that HE would build a house for David that is a dynasty. “Moreover the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house…. I will raise up your son after you ... I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever. I will be his father and he shall be my son. … And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure for ever before me; your throne shall be established for ever” (2Sam 7, 11). In Psalm 2 we are told that the kingdom of David will be universal, not only in time but also in extent. According to the prophesy of Nathan the descendents of David entered in a special way into the plan of God. The people then onwards began to expect a Messiah prophesied who will possess the kingdom both universal in extent and eternal in duration.
While we saw a divergence in the prehistoric times since people went away from God as the result of the effects and the diffusion of sin, we see a convergence here i.e., Gen 1 onwards. The hopes of the whole world were directed toward the Davidic dynasty. As per the promises given to him God lifted one of his sons, Solomon to the throne and he was given divine wisdom. He built a temple for the lord. But because of the influence of his foreign wives he left the God of Israel. Rahoboam succeeded him in the office but he was of poor diplomacy and the northern tribes seceded from him under the leadership of Jeroboam. Thus the kingdom was divided into Judea and Israel. The tribes of Judah and Benjamin formed the kingdom of Judea and the rest of the ten tribes formed the latter kingdom.
But in order to prevent the people from going to the southern kingdom for religious worship in Jerusalem Jeroboam erected new sanctuaries at Samaria, Dan and Bethel. This caused apostasy in the northern kingdom and the prophets came forward against this.
The pre-exilic prophets:All the men of God from the time of Moses till the exilic times were called the pre exilic prophets. The works of the prophets were not an easy task and the phrase “the reward of the prophet” meant generally the sufferings, silencing, imprisonment, death etc. But the prophets were unable to escape from their mission and they prophesied vehemently even at the verge of death because the Spirit of God working in their lives was so strong. However the main characteristics of the prophets were the internal spirituality, social justice and the unique worship of the true God. The prophet Elijah who confronted with the prophets of Baal at Mount Carmel was a typical example of O.T. prophets. The Spirit of God working in the prophet urged him to oppose the sin of idolatry. After destroying all the prophets of Baal he blamed the king Ahab who cooked the plot against Naboth and possessed his vineyard. It was a cry against the injustice. After Elijah, Elisha came to the office.
They were followed by the writing prophets namely Amos, Hosea… While Amos spoke roughly against all sorts of social injustices prevailed in the northern kingdom at the time of the reign of Jeroboam II, Hosea spoke against all these in a different tone- in a tone of love relationship. God loved his people so much that he cannot leave them (Hos 11, 9). He uses the metaphor of marriage. However these warnings were in vain and the people did not pay heed to their words. During the periods of political uprisings and turmoil the kings of Israel changed their loyalty from Assyria to Egypt from time to time. Finally in 724 during the reign of Hosea Shalmanasser V, the king of Assyria regained his power and attacked Israel. He dethroned Hosea and captured Samaria by 721; deported a lot of people from the country to Assyria and brought foreigners to the land. As a result there emerged a mixed group in Samaria due to marriage with the foreigners: and the Jews later accused them of racial impurity.
Ministry of the prophets in Judah is evident in the times before and after the fall of Israel. Even when the king of Israel- Pekah, and other kings of Aram and Syria came against Judah as the king Ahaz of Judah rejected their invitation to attack Assyria, the prophet Isaiah promised that God will protect them (Isa7,5-8). The Immanuel prophesy of the first Isaiah (7, 14-16) - though its immediate connotation was about the son of the king to be born- is interpreted as the prophesy about the Messiah to come. The people of Judah experienced the power of the Lord when Sennacherib came against them in 701 B.C. Then prophet Isaiah prophesied in the name of the Lord against Sennacherib (2Kgs 19, 35) and he had to retreat as one lakh of his soldiers died in the camp; Jews believed that it was because of the intervention of the angel of the Lord.
B.C. 626 onwards Babylon began to grow as a powerful kingdom in the Middle East. In 610 they conquered Assyria completely. After the death of Josea the kings of Judah oscillated in their loyalty to the foreign rulers. Johoachim favoured Egypt and hence Nebuchadnezzar dethroned him and appointed his son Johoachin the king in 598. But after three months he was also taken to Babylon along with a lot of citizens. This is called the first phase of the Babylonian exile. Thereafter Zedechia became the ruler in Judah. But he also changed his loyalty to Egypt in 591. The prophet Jeremiah opposed this position vehemently (Jer 27,1f; 28, 10-11; 28, 24). Nebuchadnezzar killed the sons of Zedechia before his sight and he was taken to Babylon and a lot of elite people too. This is the second phase of the Babylonian exile that took place in 587. But when Cyrus became the ruler of the Middle East and Persia, he allowed the Israelites to go back to their home land in 537 B.C. So Deutro Isaiah speaks about their coming back as “a voice cries out: in the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord…and the rough places a plain” (Isa 40, 3-5). The scripture assures that it is the Lord of Israel who anointed the king Cyrus to deliver the people from the exile. “Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus whose right hand I have grasped to subdue nations before him…for the sake of Jacob my servant and Israel my chosen, I call you… though you do not know me…” (45, 1-5). Thus the scripture makes it clear that it is the Spirit of the Lord who works and controls the whole nations. The idea is repeatedly stated in the book of Daniel too (Dan 4, 35). Daniel which is written in the second century B.C. when Israelites were under the dominion of the Selucian rule, also speaks of the universal lordship of the God of Israel.
Though the exile was a great blow to the people externally, God made it also a means for a lot of blessings. Their spirituality developed anything like. Instead of formalism they came back to their life: Instead of ritual sacrifices there were spiritiual offerings and synagogue worships. Ezekiel and second Isaiah contributed to their dry bones a new life.

5. Actualization of the promises
The entrance of Jesus into the world was an event of inexhaustible depth of meaning. The incarnation of Jesus into the world was God’s most intimate step into the human history. “but God who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us ---made us alive together with Christ…”(Eph 2,4-5).
The power of the Spirit of God was evident in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. When Jesus started his ministry he proclaimed “the Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour”(Lk 4,18). The whole life of Jesus was the manifestation of this power of the Spirit of the lord. At the very virginal birth of Jesus we see the Spirit of the lord. “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you ..”(Lk 1, 35). The same overshadowing of the Spirit of God that took place at the Ark of the Covenant. In baptism we see Mark presenting Jesus as the son of God. So he has the power of God eksousia. This power of God is manifested in the word and deed of Christ. The deeds of Jesus include the exorcisms and healing miracles. Mark presents these miracles as the eye openers and they reveal who Christ is.
Mathew presents Jesus as the new teacher and the new Moses and also above Moses because as the new Moses He is the new law maker. Mathew presents the miracles as the direct attacks made by Christ on the kingdom of Satan from which man must be saved. The power of Christ is the same power of the Father and the Spirit. Through his life and ministry he was conquering sin, Satan and death. As Satan’s kingdom is weakened, the kingdom of heaven grows in power. “But if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out the devils…” (Mt 12, 28). John presents Jesus as the light of the world (Jn 8, 12), the door (10, 7-10) good shepherd (10, 11-18) life and resurrection (11, 25). All the miracles according to John are signs which reveal who Jesus is. He called the twelve disciples to continue his ministry and this was the new beginning of the new people of God or the new Israel. On the day of Pentecost thus Church was inaugurated solemnly by the work of the Spirit of the risen Lord Jesus. Church is the mystical body of Christ. But the actual work of salvation and the power of the Spirit of God fulfilled at the end of the life of Jesus. The supreme love of god is manifested in the crucifixion of the son for the sinful mankind. He humbled himself in obedience and accepted death on the cross (Phil 2, 8). Christ’s death was the victory over death. He conquered the devastating forces of sin- vices, pride and disobedience. According to the gospel of John the death of Christ on the cross was the hour of glorification.
While Jesus won over the sin by dying, he conquered the death by his resurrection. Thus the promise given to Adam in the paradise came into true. When we speak of the power of the Spirit of God we must remember the death and resurrection of Christ. He rose in his glorious body and that body was the instrument through which the Spirit would be poured upon the faithful. As St. John sees the death, resurrection and the giving of the Holy Spirit as the one and the same action of the paschal mystery, we see Jesus giving his Spirit at the very day of his death. “One of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear and at once blood and the water came out (19, 34). Immediately after the resurrection he breathed on the disciples and imparted his Spirit upon them (20, 19-21). According to the Lukan version on the day of Pentecost Jesus gave his Spirit to all who have gathered at the cenacle of Zion. Thus they were made the temples of the Holy Spirit and sons of God.

6. Continuation of the Effect of the Salvation
Salvation is the unique possession of Jesus Christ. All of us have share in it only if we are in union with him. In order to have union with him we should have faith in Him which means acceptance of Jesus as our saviour. Sacraments are next element of this union. The baptism which effects the union with Christ who died and rose is the basic sacrament. Now we do not see the miracles which Jesus and his disciples performed in the N.T. period in its literal senses. The place of those miracles is replaced by the sacraments and these sacraments are the miracles of the new era. The Spirit of God works through these sacraments at present in the life and ministry of Church.
Church possesses the truth and the power of Christ. Through it Christ continues to teach, to overcome the Satan and to communicate the life of the spirit. In Church one contacts the saviour and experiences the salvation. While sin drove men away from the paradise or the goodness the life in Christ, the Spirit brought him back to the state of goodness. The process of coming to God which started at the time of Abraham is completed in Christ and it is being continued till the end of the time. The Church is expecting a Parousia when Christ will be all in all. In him man will regain the lost state. The salvation which Christ accomplished is perfect and each man must personalize it subjectively in the Church; sacraments are the means to it.
Work of the Spirit in the church: the Spirit of God in Christ brings us in union with God the father (2Cor 5, 21). We are made the temples of the Holy Spirit (1Cor 6, 19), citizens of heaven (Phil 3, 20), brothers of Christ (Rom 8, 29), children of his father (Eph1, 5-6), co-victors over Satan- we who are united with Christ become the sharers in his victory too, spiritual descendent of Abraham (Gal 3, 26-29) and united to each other in Christ.
The glorified Christ has completed his mission on the day of Pentecost after pouring out the spirit. The Spirit enlightens the Church by making her aware of the treasures of revelation that Christ has deposited in her. Revelation ended with Christ but the Spirit continues to enlighten and interpret the church. Spirit sanctifies the Church and gives her life and makes her the temple (1cor 3, 16). Now the gifts we see in the Church are also because of the work of the spirit. He is active in the church. All the varieties of the gifts are inspired by one and the same Spirit who apportions to each one individually as he wills (1Cor 12, 4.11). Pouring out these gifts the Holy Spirit bears the Church forward to witness to Christ and sustains her in that witness. Today Spirit raises up missionaries and the apostles in the Church and supports the Christians in their witnesses till the second coming of Christ. The Parousia is the completion of the history of salvation. Then, Christ delivers the kingdom to God the father destroying every rule and every authority and every power (1cor 15, 22-24). On that final and the perfect day of consecration of the history “we shall be with the lord” (1Thess 4, 17).

God had demonstrated his supreme power over the world by creating the whole universe and as the culmination of the creation he created the man in his image and likeness. The work of the Spirit of God was well manifested in the universe when he formed the family of Abraham. The work of the Spirit of God was evident in the election of Jacob, his twelve tribes, preservation of their family in Egypt, the election and the call of Moses, the ten plagues, crossing over of the sea of reed, covenant at Mt. Sinai etc. Then God spoke to his people through Law and through prophets. They warned, instructed and foretold the fate of the people and asked them to follow the way of the lord. When the time is fulfilled God sent his only begotten son to the world. It is the progressive entrance of God into the history of man (Jn1, 1-5 .10-14).
In the paradise sin separated man from God and among themselves. Christ’s birth was meant to bring them back to those relationships. The whole story of the salvation is thus the love of God and the work of the spirit, who is trying to bring back the mankind which went away from him by sin. The saving work of the Spirit of God or the work of God which started at the very moment of man’s sin in paradise was continuing through the history, through different stages as we have seen above. It was actualized in Christ objectively but as God respects the human freedom, man has to personalize it individually. Hence there is an already but not yet aspect. The work of the Spirit of God in the salvation history will be over by end of the history only which is the Parousia of the Lord Christ.

Teaching of the Church on Responsible Parenthood and Responsible Procreation

Teaching of the Church on Responsible Parenthood and Responsible Procreation, and the moral difference between Natural Family Planning and Artificial birth control

1. Introduction
2. Responsible Parenthood
3. Responsible Procreation
4. Responsible Parenthood: Teachings of the Church.
4.1 Casti Connubii
4.2 Pius XII
4.3 Vatican II
4.4 Pope John XXIII
4.5 Pope Paul VI
4.6 Humane Vitae
4.7 Letter to the Families
4.8 CCC
4.9 Responsible Parenthood linked to Moral Maturity
5. Natural Family Planning
5.1 Merits of the NFP
5.2 Demerits of NFP
6. Artificial birth control
7. Moral Difference between NFP and Artificial Methods

1. Introduction
The concept of responsible and prudent parenthood is a topic of recent wide discussion. Responsible parenthood is not a euphemism for contraception. Responsible parenthood is not a euphemism for contraception. It only means that the number of children must be determined by intelligent choice on the part of the parents. It concerns the transmission of life of education of children. In fact it implies many things including the duty of right of the couples to plan the size of their family, recognizing their duties that arise from marriage. Such duties are of two types: first of conjugal love; and second of procreation and education of children. For example, physical and psychological health of the wife, age and help of the born children etc may have to regulate the transmission of life. There is a criticism from the scholars that -Church does not consider the modern trend; -Church does not change her position. Before we consider the various aspects of responsible parenthood, we shall review the magisterial approaches towards responsible parenthood.
2. Responsible Parenthood
As an elementary remark is it said that apart from or in addition to procreation the marital act has meaning in itself. Such meanings will surely vary from couples to couples. It is also context specific to a large extent some of the primary meanings of the marital act include an expression of conjugal love, mutual commitment, personal healing and celebration of life. These meanings can be fruitfully and adequately sustained only in the context of marriage. Because in marriage they commit themselves to each other in an everlasting bond. Having said this we have to remark that we can’t under rate procreation as one among many possible meanings. Procreation remains the most direct and principal ends of marriage.
In the contemporary situations couples find it difficult to harmonize the two demands of conjugal love and transmission of life. Conjugal love may sometimes demand control over the transmission of life. Such situations includes (1) medical or physical reasons that would prevent the wife from becoming pregnant anymore. 2) The lack of necessary time between one pregnancy and the next. 3) The demands of upbringing children in view of loving and caring them sufficiently, the couple’s economic situation, social situation, housing and demographic indications. Considering all these elements prudently and generously the couples should select the ideal number of their children. In other words the decision on the transmission of life should be evaluated in terms of proportionate reason due parental considerations of the couples and just and sufficient cause. Having taken their decision, i.e. having controlling for the time being the couples has to revise such decision from time to time. It is an essential element of responsible parenthood. When the situation of children ceases to exist, they have to review their decision.
3. Responsible Procreation
1. The spouses are to be strengthened in their view of the inestimable value and preciousness of human life, and aided so that they may commit themselves to making their own family a sanctuary of life:[28] " quite differently than he is present in all other instances of begetting 'on earth'". (John Paul II, Letter to Families, n. 9)
2. Parents are to consider their mission as an honour and a responsibility, since they become co-operators with the Lord in calling into existence a new human person, made in the image and likeness of God, redeemed and destined, in Christ, to a Life of eternal happiness.(GS.50) "It is precisely in their role as co-workers with God that we see the greatness of couples who are ready 'to co-operate with the love of the Creator and the Saviour, who through them will enlarge and enrich his own family day by day"'. (Evangelism Vitae.43)
3. From this the Christian's joy and esteem for paternity and maternity are derived. This parenthood is called "" in recent documents of the Church, to emphasize the awareness and generosity of the spouses with regard to their mission of transmitting life, which has in itself a value of eternity, and to call attention to their role as educators. Certainly it is a duty of married couples-who, for that matter, should seek appropriate counsel-to deliberate deeply and in a spirit of faith about the size of their family, and to decide the concrete mode of realizing it, with respect for the moral criteria of conjugal life. (GS.50)
4. The Church has always taught the intrinsic evil of contraception, that is, of every marital act intentionally rendered unfruitful. This teaching is to be held as definitive and irreformable. Contraception is gravely opposed to marital chastity, it is contrary to the good of the transmission of life (the procreative aspect of matrimony), and to the reciprocal self- giving of the spouses (the unitive aspect of matrimony); it harms true love and denies the sovereign role of God in the transmission of human life. (Humanae Vitae.14)
5. A specific and more serious moral evil is present in the use of means which have an abortive effect, impeding the implantation of the embryo which has just been fertilized or even causing its expulsion in an early stage of pregnancy. (Evangelium Vitae.13)
6. However, profoundly different from any contraceptive practice is the behaviour of married couples, who, always remaining fundamentally open to the gift of life, live their intimacy only in the unfruitful periods, when they are led to this course by serious motives of responsible parenthood. This is true both from the anthropological and moral points of view, because it is rooted in a different conception of the person and of sexuality. (Humanae Vitae.16)
The witness of couples who for years have lived in harmony with the plan of the Creator, and who, for proportionately serious reasons, licitly use the methods rightly called "natural," confirms that it is possible for spouses to live the demands of chastity and of married life with common accord and full self- giving. CHRISTIAN FAITH no.2214&2221ff
4. Responsible Parenthood: Teachings of the Church.
4.1 Casti Connubii: From the time of Pius XI, the Xa had accepted the right of the couples to plan the size of their family. Casti Connubii recognized that every marital act does not necessarily lead to procreation; still such acts also licit. Pius XI was actually reacting to the Lambeth conference of the Anglican Church. That conference also admitted that the couples had the right to restrict the transmission of life. The number identified are (1) complete abstinence from marital life. Even if it is practiced it can reduce the quality of life of the couples. Secondly, unnatural or artificial methods are considered immoral and unchristian (no. 56):
Since, therefore, openly departing from the uninterrupted Christian tradition some recently have judged it possible solemnly to declare another doctrine regarding this question, the Catholic Church, to whom God has entrusted the defence of the integrity and purity of morals, standing erect in the midst of the moral ruin which surrounds her, in order that she may preserve the chastity of the nuptial union from being defiled by this foul stain, raises her voice in token of her divine ambassadorship and through Our mouth proclaims anew: any use whatsoever of matrimony exercised in such a way that the act is deliberately frustrated in its natural power to generate life is an offence against the law of God and of nature, and those who indulge in such are branded with the guilt of a grave sin.
So other methods could be used in the light of Christian principles. CHRISTIAN FAITH no.2202-08
4.2 Pius XII while admitting the right of the couples to regulate the size of their family held that in certain cases a pregnancy could be an error or injustice or immorality.
4.3 Vatican II
The council admitted that there can be instances in which the couples are not obliged to harmonize the two ends of marriage namely conjugal love and procreation. For example, psychologically or physically ill wife, then modern expensive life style also may demand controlling the size of the family. In such situations according to GS 51 couples should be led by human Christian responsibility. In planning their family they have to consider first welfare of the couples, secondly welfare of the children, including children to be born.
GS 51: The council realize that married people are often hindered by certain situation in modern life from working out their married love harmoniously and that they can sometimes find themselves in a position where the number of children cannot be increased, at least for the time being: in cases like these it is quite difficult to preserve the practice of faithful love and the complete intimacy of their lives. But where the intimacy of married life is broken, it often happens that faithfulness is imperilled and the good of the children suffers: then the education of the children as well as the courage to accept more children are both endangered.
….the church wishes to emphasize that there can be no conflict between the divine laws governing the transmission of life and the fostering of authentic married love.
……in questions of birth regulation the sons of the Church, faithful to these principles, are forbidden to use methods disapproved of by the teaching authority of the Church in its interpretation of the divine law.
GS no 50 states that whenever Christian spouses in a spirit of sacrifice and trust in divine providence (1cor 7:5) carry out their duties of procreation with generous human and Christian responsibility, they glorify the creator and perfect themselves. CHRISTIAN FAITH no.2214-15&2217
4.4 Pope John XXIII
He appointed a six member commission to study about responsible parenthood in 1963. It was called the “pontifical commission on population, Family and birth.” Paul VI in 1966 expanded this commission to 34 members. After a series of studies and deliberations the commission could not reach a unanimous position. In 1966 it produced a divided report as majority and minority. Very briefly the rather progressive majority group recognized other methods than rhythm method for controlling the size of the family. However both the majority and minority report held that responsible parenthood is a fundamental obligation of couples in view of their life situation. The majority report stressed the objective criteria proposed by Vatican II namely “human person has to be viewed in his/her totality integrally and adequately.
4.5 Pope Paul VI
In 1967 the encyclical ‘Poploruem Progressio by Paul VI admitted right of the couples to plan their family considering their obligations towards the children already born and the community in which they live.
No 37 states: It is true that too frequently an accelerated demographic increase adds its own difficulties to the problems of development: the size of the population increases more rapidly than available resources, and things are found to have reached apparently an impasse. From that moment the temptation is great to check the demographic increase by means of radical measures. It is certain that public authorities can intervene, within the limit of their competence, by favoring the availability of appropriate information and by adopting suitable measures, provided that these be in conformity with the moral law and that they respect the rightful freedom of married couples. Where the inalienable right to marriage and procreation is lacking, human dignity has ceased to exist. Finally, it is for the parents to decide, with full knowledge of the matter, on the number of their children, taking into account their responsibilities towards God, themselves, the children they have already brought into the world, and the community to which they belong. In all this they must follow the demands of their own conscience enlightened by God's law authentically interpreted, and sustained by confidence in Him.
4.6 Humane Vitae
HV began analysing the existing socio-economic situation in which there was scarcity of food, job, housing etc. It also recognized that costly education also demands a control on transmission of life and responsible parenthood (HV 2).
Evaluating the social condition in which the couples live, together with prudence and generosity they have to think about the physical, psychological and social development of their family and their children. In the light of this evaluation they have to take right decision about the size of their family. Planning and controlling the size of the family is not something permitted to the couples but demanded from them by the Church. Only those couple who are conscious and generous of their parental vocation as a convent and conjugal love can take responsible decision on their parenthood. In short decisions about responsible parenthood should not be selfish but generous. If selfish, it is immoral. This is very clear form HV no. 10:
Hence conjugal love requires in husband and wife an awareness of their mission of "responsible parenthood," which today is rightly much insisted upon, and which also must be exactly understood. Consequently it is to be considered under different aspects which are legitimate and connect with one another. In relation to the biological processes, responsible parenthood means the knowledge and respect of their functions; human intellect discovers in the power of giving life biological laws which are part of the human person [9]. In relation to the tendencies of instinct and passion, responsible parenthood means that necessary dominion which reason and will must exercise over them. In relation to physical, economic, psychological and social conditions, responsible parenthood is exercised; either by the deliberate and generous decision to raise a numerous family, or by the decision, made for grave motives and with due respects for the moral law, to avoid for the time being, or even for an indeterminate period, a new birth.
Responsible parenthood also and above all implies a more profound relationship to the objective moral order established by God, of which a right conscience is the faithful interpreter. The responsible exercise of parenthood implies, therefore, that husband and wife recognize fully their own duties towards God, towards themselves, towards the family and towards society, in a correct hierarchy of values.
In the task of transmitting life, therefore, they are not free to proceed completely at will, as if they could determine in a wholly autonomous way the honest path to follow; but they must conform their activity to the creative intention of God, expressed in the very nature of marriage and of its acts, and manifested by the constant teaching of the Church. CHRISTIAN FAITH no.2220&2225
4.7 Letter to the Families
No. 12 presents that sincere self-denial of the spouses is the total self-giving of the marriage. Spouses should be responsible for their fatherhood and motherhood -spouses should take the responsibility of the new life. Mutual self-giving is important -the aim of the total offering of the spouse is a combination of love and procreation. It should be integrated together. Birth control is good for the society, the nation, family, but it should be based on the moral law.
4.8 CCC: Marriage is ordered to parenthood as its crowing glory (1652)
4.9 Responsible Parenthood linked to Moral Maturity
1. Morally correct regulation of fertility (HV 16 natural rhythms)
Biological rhythm which belongs to the natural order
Responsible parenthood, which, according to the Creator’s design, is inscribed in the natural order of human fecundity
The concept of a morally correct regulation of fertility is nothing other than the rereading of the language of the body in truth.
2. Self-denial
Spouses who follow natural rhythms, expresses themselves in a mature way before the demands of responsible parenthood. For instance HV no 21 says that “responsible parenthood is connected with a continual effort and commitment, and that it is put into effect at the cost of a precise self-denial.”
3. Right conscious is the true interpreter
lowering the number of births in their family must be established by taking into account not only the good of one’s own family, even the state of health and the means of the couple themselves, but also the good of the society to which they belong, of the church, and even of the whole of mankind.
Responsible parenthood as an expression of a high ethical value. It is not limiting the children; it means the willingness to accept the larger family
-Responsible parenthood implies a deeper relationship with the objective moral order instituted by God - the order of which a right conscience is the true interpreter (HV 10)
4 Moral Maturity
-the truth of responsible parenthood and its implementation is linked with the moral maturity of the person
One can see the ethical problem here. By separating the natural method from the ethical dimension, one no longer sees the difference between it and the other methods (artificial means) and one comes to the point of speaking of it as if it were one a different for of contraception. They are two methods
5. Lawful regulation
-natural regulation of fertility that is lawful and morally right HV no 21: this self-discipline brings to family life abundant fruits of tranquillity and fosters loving considerations for each other.
Summary: Catholic health care recognizes that couples should use their procreative capacity responsibly - couples should reasonably decide to avoid pregnancy. They should be provided with appropriate knowledge and skills to enable them to determine times of fertility and infertility so that they themselves can decide when to engage in sexual intercourse.
-an understanding of modern methods of natural family planning increases a couple’s knowledge of the reproductive cycle and thus enables them more easily to take responsibility for their marital life.
5. Natural Family Planning
Natural Family Planning is based upon the biological fact that women are most time infertile. In every menstrual cycle, even when allowance is made for the survival of spermatozoa, during the days of infertility an act of sexual intercourse cannot cause conception.
There are three main natural methods. 1) The Rhythm methods discovered by doctors Orgino and Knaus, in 1924. It is known as rhythm because of the physical rhythm or pattern of the female cycle ovulation. The method is based on the calculation of the expected date of ovulation according to the calendar. 2) Later came the Temperature or Sympto-Thermic Method, which consists in the taking of the body temperature every morning and recording it on a graph: a deviation of half-a –degree indicates the approach of ovulation. These two methods were not taught with sufficient accuracy, so that the smallest error in calculation resulted in a pregnancy. 3) The Ovulation method, first propounded in 1949 by an Australian couple, Dr. John and Dr. Evelyn Billings, and continually developed by them during the last decades of the century, from the insights and experience gained by them in their marriage guidance and counselling. This method relies on the identification by a woman of a symptom which predicts ovulation, namely, the secretion of a particular type of mucus from the glands of the cervix (neck) of the uterus.
There are more than 25 methods to understand the ovulation. (Cf. John Iype, Ningal Ashikkunna Kuttikal, Malayalam p. 33-37
5.1 Merits of the NFP Cf. John Iype, Ningal Ashikkunna Kuttikal, Malayalam pp. 38-45; Felix M. Podimattam, Responsible Parenthood p. 38-39
1. NFP places responsibility on both partners
2. Those who use NFP have reported an enhanced sense of personal dignity resulting from awareness of their own body and its rhythms.
3. That abstinence from intercourse can help a couple learn to have confidence in the strength of their love for each other and to express it in a variety of ways, without that preoccupation with total orgasm which is proving to be a source of tension for many men and women today.
4. That periodic abstinence removes something of the sexual routine expect sterilizing and it does not have the obvious disadvantage of a sterilizing operation.
5. That when properly practiced, it can be as effective as any method expect sterilization.
6. It has no medical risks unlike other methods namely, pills and IUD
7. It does not require regular medical checkups in order to avoid side effects.
8. In this method there is no irreversible and drastic change in the body, no chemically induced hormonal change.
9. No special barrier to male penetration, no interruption of intercourse.
10. Aesthetically and medically, NFP far surpasses other methods of fertility control.
11. Psychologically the couples are satisfied.
5.2 Demerits of NFP : Cf. John Iype, Ningal Ashikkunna Kuttikal, Malayalam, p. 46-51; Felix M. Podimattam, Responsible Parenthood, p. 39-63.
1. In terms of a presumptive standard 28-days menstrual cycle NFP means no sexual relations about 10 days.
Incidently, illness, pregnancy, work, fatigue, and consideration for one’s own mate impose much necessary abstinence. This discipline is inherent, necessary, and appropriate to the couple’s life together. However, when even more abstinence becomes the only means to avoid pregnancy, then abstinence can endanger the couple’s unity.
2. NFP methods force a constant calculation and worry which is psychologically debilitating and tends to undermine the couple’s stability and introduces fear and conflict in their relationship.
3. Since the population is high, the present teaching regarding NFP is irrelevant in practice. There are no enough trained instructors.
4. NFP is highly effective under ideal conditions, it is hardly so in ordinary conditions. Many couples claim to have tried it without real success, and NFP pregnancies do occur.
Recent studies have shown that 48 hours is only the average life span of the sperm, some sperm can still be viable in the mucus of the cervix after the intercourse as long as 7 or s days. Ovum can live for 1 day.
The ovarian cycle of the woman is equally unpredictable.
5. NFP does not promote the ascetic discipline which the clerical moralists believe it will. Abstinence can be enforced by NFP just as it can be enforced by absence or imprisonment.
6. The naturalness of NFP is questionable. Some of the scholars argued that NFP appears to be as artificial as any other contraceptive. The intention is cold –blooded exclusion of children.
7. NFP is based on false biology. It is very strange that procreativeness should be defined only in terms of the operation of the sperm as it travels into the uterus, but the presence or absence of the ovum is deemed irrelevant to the definition of procreativeness.
8. In designating NFP as natural two different things are confused: the woman’s ovular cycle, which is indeed natural in the sense of being a biological phenomenon, and the infertile period method which has been invented by human intelligence and is therefore artificial or manmade.
9. To many married people, there is a betrayal of their dedication precisely in the indiscriminate childbearing on the one hand or the alternative of calendar spaced love-making or total abstinence, on the other.
10. The obligation to limit the size of the family is an ordinary obligation imposed on all married couples by the more basic end of marriage which demands that children be brought up in a human way relative to the social conditions of times.
11. Its openness to procreation is not openness to safe and healthy human life. It causes a disproportionate waste of zygotes and even a disproportionate frequency of spontaneous abortions.
To sum up, NFP is a solution in the case of some couples, but it cannot be accepted as a general solution to the problem of birth regulation.
6. Artificial birth control
Unlike the NFP the couples use artificial methods to regulate procreation. They knowingly control the natural functioning of the sexual organs for not to be fully functioned as resulting in procreation. These methods are against the nature. There are a lot of artificial means such as: Interrupted Intercourse, Condoms, Loupe, Diaphram, Spermicides, Pills, and Sterilization etc.
7. Moral Difference between NFP and Artificial Methods
Even if both the methods are aiming the same effect as to control the procreation there is big difference of morality between them. In NFP we follow the natural order of sexuality. Because the human sexuality it self provide a period of time when pregnancy could not happen. And these ‘dry’ days are not regulated by human, so having intercourse in that time is open to procreation but nature prevents. Thereby persons do not hold the responsibility. But in the use of Artificial methods persons act against the natural order and there by not open to the ends of marriage; procreation. That is why the Church has on many occasions stated the artificial means as immoral. The Church always affirms that every conjugal act must remain open to the transmission of life and that any action which in its anticipation, realisation, or in the consequences of the conjugal act proposes an end or as a means to render procreation impossible, such an action is intrinsically evil. (Humane Vitae 11 & 14) As for artificial means of limiting the family, the popes have on many occasions them as immoral. (Casti connubii no, 56; Humane Vitae14; Veritatis Splendor 80 ) [Further addition can be done after reading class note on Marriage chapter 4 topics no. 4&5]. CHRISTIAN FAITH no.2236 page918

CHRISTIAN FAITH page no.898 there is a topic at the bottom as RESPONSIBLE PARENTHOOD is very useful for us in answering this question. Especially the first five sub topics numbered;
1- 2214, 2220
2- 2214, 2219
3- 1841, 2215, 2247
4- 2220,2236,.2244
5- 2217
6- 2204, 2225, 2236
7- 2202,2209, 2222, 2223, 2236