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The cessation of body function through departure of the soul.
Separation from God.
In this life, the human soul in mortal sin is dead, but during earthly life Christ resuscitates it when we go to Confession and receive sacramental absolution.
Rv 20:14 “This is the second death, the lake of fire; and if any one’s name was not written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” The soul in hell, having firmly and finally chosen separation from Christ, is not resuscitated but remains dead for all eternity.
A dead soul remains pure spirit and eternal so it cannot cease to exist. It remains alert and aware of its torments.
God created us to know, love and serve Him. Our soul, God’s image and likeness, lives through knowing, loving and serving God. When we refuse to know, love and serve God (when we are not in the state of grace), our soul is dead though it continues to exist. During earthly life, when we go to Confession and receive absolution, Christ resuscitates our soul. However, when we are not in the state of grace at the moment of death, the soul dies through its final and eternal separation from God. Rv 20:14 “This is the second death, the lake of fire.”
Earthly death is a consequence of Adam’s sin. Rom 5:12 “Sin came into the world through one man and death through sin.” All human beings, descendants of Adam, because Eph 2:3 “children of wrath” and therefore subject to death.
In the special case of Jesus and Mary, the end of their earthly lives was not a consequence of sin, but only a reflection of their human nature. Jesus’ human nature truly experienced death. The Church has no divine revelation on whether Mary experienced death before being assumed body and soul into heaven, so we use the careful language, “at the end of her earthly life.”
Death ends the test of our loyalty to God, and with it all possibility of merit or demerit.
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