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Chapter 16: Last Things
   Last Things
      632. What about Reincarnation?

{632.1} Q. What is a good response to a fellow Catholic who believes she could have had previous lives? I told her that such belief is incompatible with Christianity, but lacked a good answer as to why.

{632.2} A second question: Is it appropriate for an individual to "name" his or her guardian angel? I have heard conflicting views, both from what I consider to be reliable sources.

{632.3} A. Reincarnation (also known as "transmigration of souls," or metempsychosis) was at least implicitly rejected by the ecumenical Councils of Lyons II (1274) and Florence (1439), which both affirmed that souls go immediately after death to heaven, hell or purgatory.

{632.4} Today, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that death is "the end of man's earthly pilgrimage." It states flatly that "there is no 'reincarnation' after death" (No. 1013).

{632.5} In Scripture, hebrews 9:27 says, "it is appointed that human beings die once, and after this the judgment." And as Hebrews 6:2 makes plain, that judgment is "eternal judgment." We should note as well that the notion of reincarnation is at variance with the Church's teaching about the resurrection of the body.

{632.6} With regard to your second question: As a matter of personal opinion, I cannot say it would be "appropriate" to give a name to one's guardian angel. We should certainly not act as if a guardian angel were like a pet to be given an affectionate moniker; I suspect that guardian angels, like the archangels, already have their proper names, whether self-chosen or chosen by God or an angelic superior.

{632.7} I think the action would be permissible, however, if done reverently and in a sincere effort to grow in one's appreciation for the gift of heavenly aid.

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