This is a scene of perfectly beautiful serenity. Basically it’s a place where one would like to rest. The only problem is, once you’re dead, you won’t be able to enjoy it.
It’s interesting. I’ve never really understood the Catholic church’s vision of an afterlife. It’s not consistent. There’s supposed to be a Judgement Day. At that day the dead will rise from their graves and be judged. At least that’s how it is frequently depicted. Some will go to Heaven, some to Hell, and there’s also something in between, a temporary Hell, the Purgatory.
Of course the latter is a late invention of the church (see “The Birth of Purgatory” by Jacques Le Goff), but it’s still confusing.
People ask their recently deceased to pray for them. Can they? People also pray for their dead in order to shorten their stay in Purgatory. Don’t the dead sleep until Judgement Day?
When do you go to Purgatory? You’re supposed to be there for a time proportional to the sum of your sins and it seems to happen immediately after death. Is the Judgement individual? Is everybody judged after death and then sorted into one of the three slots, Heaven, Purgatory and Hell? But then, isn’t there supposed to be a resurrection of the dead, all dead, and isn’t that supposed to be followed by a general Last Judgement for all?
It turns out that everything of that has been believed at different times or even at the same time, and that even Catholic doctrine has a hard time presenting a consistent story. But then, believes and logic never go along that well 🙂