What Are Ghosts?
from 'Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Heaven', by Dr. Peter Kreeft (Ignatius Press, 1990).
"Without our action or invitation, the dead often do appear to the living. There is enormous evidence of 'ghosts' in all cultures .... We can distinguish three kinds of ghosts, I believe. First, the most familiar kind: the sad ones, the wispy ones. They seem to be working out some unfinished earthly business, or suffering some purgatorial purification until released from their earthly business. These ghosts would seem to be the ones who just barely made it to Purgatory, who feel little or no joy yet and who need to learn many painful lessons about their past life on earth."
"Second, there are malicious and deceptive spirits - and since they are_deceptive, they hardly ever appear malicious. These are probably the ones who respond to conjurings at seances. They probably come from Hell. Even the chance_of that happening should be sufficient to terrify away all temptations to necromancy."
"Third, there are bright, happy spirits of dead friends and family, especially spouses, who appear unbidden, at God's will, not ours, with messages of hope and love. They seem to come from Heaven. Unlike the purgatorial ghosts who come back primarily for their own sakes, these bright spirits come back for the sake of us the living, to tell us all is well. They are aped by evil spirits who say the same, who speak 'peace, peace, when there is no peace'. But the deception works only one way: the fake can deceive by appearing genuine, but the genuine never deceives by appearing fake. Heavenly spirits always convince us that they are genuinely good. Even the bright spirits appear ghostlike to us because a ghost of any type is one whose substance does not belong in or come from this world. In Heaven these spirits are not ghosts but real, solid and substantial because they are at home there: One can't be a ghost in one's own country."
"That there are all three kinds of ghosts is enormously likely. Even taking into account our penchant to deceive and be deceived, our credulity and fakery, there remain so many trustworthy accounts of all three types of ghosts - trustworthy by every ordinary empirical and psychological standard - that only a dogmatic prejudice against them could prevent us from believing they exist. As Chesterton says, 'We believe an old apple woman when she says she ate an apple; but when she says she saw a ghost, we say 'But she's only an old apple woman.' A most undemocratic and unscientific prejudice."
-- from "Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Heaven", by Dr. Peter Kreeft (Ignatius Press, 1990).
Paperback - 269 pages (June 1990) $10.36 at Amazon.com
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Ignatius Press; ISBN: 0898702976
In addition, the well-known Catholic author Sheldon Vanauken and the great Christian scholar C.S. Lewis, each had experiences in which they encountered an apparition of their deceased wives. In Lewis' words, it was "extreme and cheerful intimacy .. love itself".
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