Now that we have officially entered the Easter Season, let us look quickly at what the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us about Jesus’ Resurrection from the Dead. Paragraph 647 states,
“…Although the Resurrection was an historical event that could be verified by the sign of the empty tomb and by the reality of the apostles’ encounters with the risen Christ, still it remains at the very heart of the mystery of faith as something that transcends and surpasses history (italics mine).”
CCC 636: By the expression “He descended into hell,” the Apostles’ Creed confesses that Jesus did really die and through his death for us conquered death and the devil “who has the power of death” (Heb 2:14).
CCC 637: In his human soul united to his divine person, the dead Christ went down to the realm of the dead. He opened heaven’s gates for the just who had gone before him.
Saint Thomas Aquinas says that when Jesus descended into hell (Sheol – Hebrew, Hades – Greek) he “took out a piece of it” and brought the righteous with him who then went to Heaven. All the souls who awaited God’s redemption after the Fall of Adam and Eve were here. Jesus did not go to hell to deliver the damned, but only the righteous.
CCC 656: Faith in the Resurrection has as its object an event which is historically attested to by the disciples, who really encountered the Risen One. At the same time, this event is mysteriously transcendent insofar as it is entry of Christ’s humanity into the glory of God.
CCC 657: The empty tomb and the linen cloths lying there signify in themselves that by God’s power Christ’s body had escaped the bonds of death and corruption. They prepared the disciples to encounter the Risen Lord.
CCC 658: Christ, “the first-born from the dead” (Col 1:18), is the principle of our own resurrection, even now by the justification of our souls (cf. Rom 6:4), and one day by the new life he will impart to our bodies (cf. Rom 8:11).
For a more extensive explanation of Article 5, Paragraph 1, please read CCC 631-635; for Paragraph 2, please read CCC 638-655.