Recently, I was having coffee with some of my friends and the sister of one of my friends was in town from San Diego so we invited her to join us. She had been raised Catholic like her brother but some time ago she left the Church for a non denominational fundamentalist church.
She seemed to be a very sincere Christian and follower of Christ, a teacher of Bible study in her own Church and certainly believed and practiced most of the teachings of Jesus, a very sincere and Christ like person,
I wasn’t interested in arguing Scripture or pressuring her to come back to the Catholic Church but rather curious why someone so devoted to Jesus, as she apparently was, would not take full advantage of all the aids in the Catholic Church to help us along the journey, namely the Sacraments.
Her explanation which included in part, her own interpretations of the founding of His Church on Peter, the first Pope, and scandals in the Catholic Church all mitigated against a need to be a practicing Catholic and that there were many direct sources of grace that were available to her as well.
This experience inspired me write this blog about how fortunate we are to be practicing Catholics in the Church Christ founded and avail ourselves ot the Sacraments Jesus has given us. Jesus of course has risen and ascended into heaven but through Peter and His Church guided by the Holy Spirit, Jesus did not leave us “orphans.”
While we are all saved by Jesus, does that mean that all will be saved? Of course not! What if I refuse and reject Jesus and His commandments? Why is hell mentioned more often than heaven by Jesus? Well, because Jesus knows not all will repent and turn to Him and accept His gift of forgiveness.
Many Non-catholic Christians believe that they are saved by making one single act of faith at one single point in time in their lives. Nowhere does Scripture say such a thing. As Catholics, however, we believe that salvation is a process which begins with our Baptism and continues throughout our lifetimes, just as the Bible teaches us. in Matthew 19:16-17, Jesus is asked directly what one must do to have eternal life. “…someone approached him and said, “Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?”
Did Jesus say, accept me into your heart once and that’s it? No! Jesus said to keep the commandments and you will have life.”If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” Salvation is a process, just as Catholics believe, and just as the Bible clearly teaches.
Certainly, Catholics will not be the only ones saved and in heaven. No orthodox Catholic I know believes otherwise. God wills that all be saved. Our separated brethren who call themselves Christians do so rightly. They follow Christ and His teachings but are not yet in full Communion with the Church He founded..
WHAT IS MEANT BY CHURCH?
Jesus instituted His Church, the spiritual Body of Christ and its physical counterpart, the Catholic Church. In truth, Jesus instituted one physical Catholic Church, a reflection of the spiritual Body of Christ. To affirm this truth, Jesus said, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in Heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in Heaven.” [Mt. 16:17-9]
THE FULLNESS OF THE MEANS OF SALVATION
‘…it is through Christ’s Catholic Church alone, which is the universal help toward salvation, that the fullness of the means of salvation can be obtained. It was to the apostolic college alone, of which Peter is the head, that we believe that our Lord entrusted all the blessings of the New Covenant, in order to establish on earth the one Body of Christ into which all those should be fully incorporated who belong in any way to the People of God.'” (Catechism Of The Catholic Church # 816)
OUR SEPARATED BROTHERS AND SISTERS
Speaking of the separation of our brothers and sisters… one cannot charge with the sin of the separation those who at present are born into these communities that resulted from such separation’ and in them are brought up in the faith of Christ, and the Catholic Church accepts them with respect and affection as brothers and sisters… All who have been justified by faith in Baptism are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers and sisters.”
(Catechism Of The Catholic Church# 818)
“Furthermore….many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside the visible confines of the Catholic Church: “the written Word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope, and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as visible elements. Christ’s Spirit uses these Churches and ecclesial communities as means of salvation, whose power derives from the fullness of grace and truth that Christ has entrusted to the Catholic Church. Catechism Of The Catholic Church #819
On the eve of His crucifixion, Jesus prayed to the Heavenly Father for the unity of His Church. He stated, “The glory that you have given Me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and You in Me, that they may become completely one...” [Jn. 17:22-3]
THE SACRAMENTAL LIFE OF THE CHURCH
“A sacrament is an outward sign instituted by Christ to give grace”. The sacraments confer grace. They penetrate us with the life of Christ. They show Christ’s presence in all the key moments of life: birth, coming of age, …death. They are actions of the Holy Spirit at work in his Body, the Church. They are “the masterworks of God” in the new and everlasting covenant.
Incorporated into the Church through Baptism, the faithful are destined by the baptismal character for the worship of the Christian religion; reborn as children of God they must confess before men the faith which they have received from God through the Church. They are more perfectly bound to the Church by the sacrament of Confirmation, and the Holy Spirit endows them with special strength so that they are more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith, both by word and by deed, as true witnesses of Christ.
Taking part in the Eucharistic sacrifice, they offer the Divine Victim to God, and offer themselves along with it. Strengthened in Holy Communion by the Body of Christ, they then manifest in a concrete way that unity of the people of God.
Those who approach the sacrament of Penance (also known as Reconciliation or Confession) obtain pardon from the mercy of God for the offence committed against Him and their neighbor. They are at the same time reconciled with the Church, Body of Christ, which they have wounded by their sins. By the sacred Anointing of the sick and the prayer of her priests, the whole Church commends the sick to the suffering and glorified Lord, asking that He may lighten their suffering and save them.
Those of the faithful who are consecrated by Holy Orders are appointed to feed the Church in Christ’s name with the word and the grace of God. Those who choose the Sacrament of Matrimony signify and partake of the mystery of that unity and fruitful love which exists between Christ and His Church, they help each other to attain holiness in their married life and in the rearing and education of their children. The family is, so to speak, the domestic churc
In our modern world (often hostile to religion), religious families are extremely important centers of living faith. They are “domestic churches” in which the parents are the first heralds of faith (Second Vatican Council). The home is the first school of the Christian life where all learn love, repeated forgiveness, and prayerful worship.
KEEP OUR EYES ON THE PRIZE! Then we will say with St. Paul in 2Timothy 4:7-9, “I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me, which the Lord, the just judge, will award to me on that day and not only to me, but to all who have longed for his appearance.[and persevered to the very end]”
PLEASE VISIT stillromancatholicafteralltheseyears.com FOR PAST POSTS AND TO SUBSCRIBE TCB