The Soul's Journey Through Life and Death
The Church advises Catholics to avoid sin, receive the sacraments, pray, and do good works because how they live their lives here on earth will influence what happens to them in the afterlife. Death brings a separation of the soul from the body, but it is not an end of existence. Immediately after death, the soul of the departed is subject to a particular judgment.
Depending on how a man has lived his life, he will go to Heaven, where he will have the vision of God; to Purgatory, where he will go through a purification process before being allowed the vision of God; or to Hell, where he will be denied the vision of God. At the final judgment (the end of the world), the Parousia or Second Coming of Christ, all the just will be reunited with their glorified bodies, to live forever in glory with God.
The Church does not believe in predestination. Man has free will to choose to live a life of virtue or to turn away from God and live a life of sin. God is merciful and will forgive even the most grievous of sins up to the last minute of a person's life — provided the person is truly repentant. However, hardened sinners who do not seek repentance cannot take advantage of God's mercy.
Does the Church believe in reincarnation?
The Church does not accept the idea of reincarnation of souls: “It is appointed that human beings die once,” wrote Paul (Hebrews 9:27). We have only one lifetime during which to get close to God. This creates a sense of urgency, to do good and acquire grace during the one lifetime one has.