What do Catholics believe about the afterlife?

We must avoid falling into two tendencies: that there is nothing after death or that everyone immediately enters heaven.

The first pitfall to avoid is a worldly skepticism that after death, that’s it. This materialist viewpoint says we do not have immortal souls and, after death, are no different from animals.

The other extreme is that everyone instantly becomes a canonized saint after death. Rather than making sweeping “everybody goes to heaven” statements, Scripture says that salvation is more than just not being damned. We must become like Christ. Scripture is clear that we must "strive" to enter heaven (Luke 13:24) and that the Kingdom Jesus came to announce requires that we "repent and believe" (Mark 1:15).

“Salvation is not simply about a future reality where you go to a heavenly homeland—that’s only part of it. The New Testament insists that salvation has to do with the here and now.”

In Jesus—his death and resurrection—we see through the veil to what lies on the other side of our life as we experience it here; he makes clear that what we do here is key to what we will see hereafter.