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Andrea R. wrote:

Hi, guys —

  • What is the Catholic stance on past lives?


  { What is the Catholic stance on past lives? }

Eric replied:

Hi Andrea,

The Catholic stance is that we die once and then there is judgment (Hebrew 9:27), so there is no reincarnation. There is no pre-existence of souls, either, for which Origen was condemned.

Experiences that seem to indicate past lives may very well be demonic deceptions intended to deceive someone into rejecting Christianity, or they just may be dredged from the unconscious in some way we don't understand like dreams.

What's funny about alleged past lives is that often they appeal to the vanity of those involved.

Celebrities who claim they have had them, always claim in past lives that they've been Cleopatra or some historical person's lover or other famous people, not that they've been peasants who lived ordinary lives or any such thing. I find this telling.


Mary Ann replied:


We are created to know, love and serve God in this world and be happy with him in the next as the old Catechism says.

There are no past lives. We count. Our individual lives count. Eternally. Our bodies are part of us, not some cocoon we shed. The soul is the form of the body and is uniquely specific to the body, as the body is to the soul. God does not make our hereafter dependent on what we learn or don't learn in this life. He offers us the gift of the fullness of life immediately, if we accept it in love.

There are no gradations of being among human beings. The human being is unique, and there can never be another lower or higher being. We can, however, be infused with divine life right now through faith which is expressed through love.

Re-incarnation contradicts all of these Truths. Moreover, it annuls the worth of the Incarnation of the Son of God.

Reincarnation is an idea that includes the concept of past lives. It also includes past lives as other sorts of creatures in the scale of being. To have a past life, one must have been re-incarnated into this life. Re-incarnation means taking a new bodily existence.

Mary Ann

Mike replied:

Hi Andrea,

The Church does not believe in anyone's past life. Each and every person born into a physical life is created by God to fulfill a specific purpose in life.

The Church refers to those in the Church as the Church Militant because our goal is to focus on fulfilling that specific purpose in life for which we were created, while combating the invisible demonic spirits who plant anti-Christian thoughts in our heads, in order to distract us from that purpose.

From the time we are physically born and spiritually baptized, God freely gives us our own free will. Based on our choices here on earth, we ultimately make choices for Heaven and union with God, or for Hell, where there is no love for God.

The Christian journey for everyone born into this life is:

  • a physical birth.
  • for the non-Christian, a drawing by God to Christian baptism.
  • for the non-Catholic, a drawing by God to the fullness of the Christian faith which can only be found in the Catholic Church.
  • a set of choices based on our calling throughout our life through which we choose either Heaven or Hell
  • a physical death
  • a particular judgment based on our faith and works.
    (Our particular judgment is a one-on-one with Jesus, Our Lord and Savior.)
  • a general judgment: (A standing back to see all the souls saved and damned in appreciation of His Divine Justice and Divine Mercy.)

The T.V., news, media, and fictional books may talk a lot about past lives in the context of a second chance. I would avoid anyone who talks about any experience where the person ends up chiding God for a second chance.

I have heard of similar stories about people who claim to have had been given a second chance. No one, except the person and God know what really happened.


Andrea replied:

HI guys,

I am not talking about reincarnation, meaning a second chance where someone is given multiple chances to get it right, etc., but actual past lives — living in another time before this time.

Thank you for your response.

— Andrea

Mike replied:

Thanks for the clarification.

No, the Church would not believe nor teach that.

Hope this answers your question.


Andrea replied:


Can you please give me references from [the Word of God/the Scriptures] where the pre-existence of souls — living in another time before the current time — does not exist.

Thank you so much.

— Andrea R.

Mike replied:

Hi Andrea,

You question is based on a false assumption:

That all revelation Our Blessed Lord wants us to have can be found in the Written Word of God: the Holy Scriptures.

This is not true.

Using your assumption: No Christian should believe in the Trinity because nowhere in the Bible is the word Trinity mentioned.

Also, nowhere in the Bible does it say Jesus is a Divine person, so Christians, based on your assumption, should not believe Jesus was truly God.

The Scriptures do teach that Truths are passed on through oral Tradition:

especially in :

2 I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you.

1 Corinthians 11:2


15 So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter.

2 Thessalonians 2:15

Remember, the books that make up your New Testament were not decided until 382 A.D. Before then, no one knew which books were inspired and which were not. Historically, it was the decision of Catholic Bishops guided by the Holy Spirit that decided which books make up the Bible you are reading today.

Here are some sections from my Scripture Passages web page that may give you more insight:

The Holy Bible alone or the Holy Bible plus Oral Tradition?
Matthew 23:1-3
Chair of Moses; observe whatever they tell you.
(Moses’ chair was a prefigurement of the chair of St. Peter.)
Mark 13:31
Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words won't.
Mark 16:15
Go to the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.
Luke 10:16
"Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me."
John 21:25
Not everything Jesus said was recorded in Scripture.
Acts 20:35
Sayings of Jesus were not recorded in the Gospels.
Romans 10:17
Faith comes from what is heard.
1 Corinthians 11:2
Commends them for following Apostolic tradition.
1 Corinthians 15:1-2
Being saved if you hold fast to the word I preached.
2 Thessalonians 2:15
Hold fast to traditions, whether they are oral or by letter.
2 Timothy 1:13
Follow my sound words; guard the truth.
2 Timothy 2:2
What you heard entrust to faithful men who will also teach other faithful men . . .
[from generation to generation to today.]
1 Peter 1:25
God's eternal word equals the word preached to you.
2 Peter 1:20
No prophecy is a matter of private interpretation.
2 Peter 3:15-16
Paul's letters can be difficult to grasp and interpret.
St. Athanasius (360 A.D.)
Let us note that the very tradition, teaching, and faith of the Catholic Church from the beginning, which the Lord gave, was preached by the Apostles, and was preserved by the Fathers. On this was the Church founded; and if anyone departs from this, he neither is nor any longer ought to be called a Christian. (Four Letters to Serapion of Thmius 1, 28)
Origen (230 A.D.)
"The teaching of the Church has indeed been handed down through an order of succession, from the Apostles, and remains in the Churches even to the present time. That alone is to be believed as truth which is in no way in variance with ecclesiastical and apostolic tradition." (Fundamental Doctrines 1, preface, 2.)

Interested in what other Christians in the Early Church thought, taught, and died for?
Check out what they said on these two topics: The Church as the Expounder of the Scriptures and On Sacred or Apostolic Tradition.
Tradition Condemned?
Matthew 15:3
Break commandment of God for your tradition.
Commentary: The Pharisees complained that the disciples did not observe the prescribed ceremonial hand washings before, during and after the meal. These prescriptions were carefully laid down not in the Law but in the oral tradition of the ancients e.g. the early rabbis. Toward the end of the 2nd century they were codified in written form in the Mishnah. Such traditions were held in even higher esteem then the Law itself. Our Lord declines an aimless discussion of sophistries and sharply attacks the spirit that prompted the objection. As once before he might have denounced explicitly the legal zeal that they had suffocated charity. Instead he fights them on their own ground and shows how this blind devotion to the tradition of the ancients had driven them to transgress the law of God himself.
Mark 7:9
Set aside God's commandment, to uphold tradition.

Commentary: Jesus challenges the principle of these traditions and denounces the insincerity and hypocrisy which characterize the conduct of the Pharisees. The words in which Isaiah 29:13 denounced the insincerity of his contemporaries in their worship of God are applicable to Christ's opponents. In their eagerness to maintain traditions which had their origin in the opinions of earlier teachers, they neglected the essential obligations of God's law.

Colossians 2:6-8
Seductive philosophy according to human tradition.
Commentary: He ends the doctrinal part with an appeal for loyalty to Christ: the root of their religious life, the principle of their cohesion and progress in Christ. The time has come to confront the false teaching. Though it goes by the name of philosophy it is really a kind of bait for error —'an empty deceit based on the traditions of men closely allied to the [elements|principles] of the world. This last expression seems to note observance of days, months and years. In other words, the elements are connected with the sun and moon, or with cosmic forces generally.
1 Corinthians 11:2
Commends them for following Apostolic tradition.

2 Thessalonians 2:15
Commands them to keep traditions.
Commentary source: A Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture, copyright 1954.
Interested in what the very first Christians thought, taught, and died for?
Check out what they said on this topic.
I hope this helps,


Andrea replied:

This is Awesome!

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me.

Love in Christ,


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