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Lindsay Fulcer wrote:

Hi, guys—

  • What is the Catholic view of salvation and getting to Heaven?

LIndsay

  { What is the Catholic view of salvation and getting to Heaven? }

John replied:

Hi, Lindsay —

The Catholic view of salvation is as follows:

All Salvation comes from and through Christ and His shed blood. We are saved by grace through Faith to do "good works". (See Ephesians 2:8-10) — Salvation is a complete and sovereign act of God from beginning to end and it requires our response to grace freely given by Christ. In other words, there is a paradox between man's free will and God's Sovereignty. We cannot fully understand this, so we must simply accept it as a mystery.

Now, with regards to those who have not heard or fully understood the Gospel of Jesus Christ,
we believe that God may, in ways known only to God, Himself, provide for their salvation, but even in these cases, no one will be saved because they have "earned" their salvation by their own efforts. Their salvation will come about because they responded to the grace shown to them by God, and because Jesus Christ paid the price for their sins on Calvary. So, to that end, we presume that there may be those, that if they heard and fully understood the Gospel, they would have accepted Christ and repented of their sin. We call this "Baptism of Desire". St. Paul hints at this in the book of Romans when he talks about those not knowing the law but keeping it.

Also in Matthew 25, Jesus talks about a judgment where he will say to some, when I was hungry you fed me, when I was thirsty you gave me to drink. These people responded by saying,

  • "When did we do this?"  (Matthew 25:35-37)

  • Now that does not sound like a response from a Christian, does it?

Every Christian knows that when he acts in charity to a fellow human being, he is doing so for Christ. Yet these people do not seem to know Him in the way, we, as Christians, know Him.
A really careful reading of this text shows that this is a judgment of the nations and not the Church.

Now, that is not to say that those acts of kindness have earned these people Heaven, as if eternal life were a wage. Rather, these people responded to the grace given to them by Christ to show charity.

You see, Grace is more than unmerited favor, rather it is an enabling power of God in our lives which allows us to respond in faith to the Gospel and to do the "good works" for which we were predestined for.  Again, see Ephesians 2:8-10.

Furthermore, faith is not simple matter of mental agreement. James tells us that faith without works is dead. Therefore, if one claims to simply believe, but does no actions, then one deceives oneself.

Ultimately, in all cases we rely on the Grace and Mercy of Jesus Christ for Salvation. We never presume to damn anyone; that is not our job. Our job is to strive for personal holiness by responding to grace and to preach the Gospel in season and out of season.

I hope this answers your question.

Under His Mercy,

John DiMascio

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