Friday, March 09, 2007

"Like what's the truth?"

Tonight, SAA Church:
Stations of the Cross - 7 pm
Adoration - 7:30 - 8:30 pm
Kevin H. wrote, “Hi FG. My English teacher says that Catholics believe you can only get to heaven by doing good deeds. She says other christians believe that you get to Heaven just by believing in Jesus. Like what's the truth? Heaven and hell. How does God decide who is going to Hell? What is Hell like? Thanks.” Hi, Kevin! Wow, you covered a lot of ground in your comments! For answers to your questions about Heaven and Hell, you can go to “August 2006” in the archives section of our site. I wrote a few posts about Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory.

Regarding your teacher’s comments, she is wrong when she says that we Catholics believe one can only get to Heaven by doing good deeds. Btw, I would be interested to know if you go to a public or private school (especially after Wednesday’s post about sex education in public schools). We believe that salvation is through faith and works.

Marion commented on your question and directed you to a good article online that provides some answers; you can read the full text by clicking on the title of this post. Here are some excerpts from it:

“Roman Catholicism teaches that we are not saved by faith alone. The Church has taught this since 30 A.D. as part of the Divine Revelation. The truth of the Catholic Church's teaching can be demonstrated from Sacred Scripture alone. All who claim the title ‘Christian’ will be able to agree on the following two truths: salvation is by grace alone (Ephesians 2:8) and salvation is through Christ alone (Acts 4:12). These biblical facts will be our foundation as we explain the teaching of the Catholic Church.”

Marion also included a very important passage from the letter of James which says, "a person is justified by works and not by faith alone . . . For just as a body without a spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead" (2:24,26).

What did Jesus teach? “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven” (Mt 7:21). This would counter what other Christian denominations teach: that all one has to do to be saved is to confess Jesus as Lord and Savior.

Also, and this is a big one, in Matthew 25, Jesus explains how the Final Judgement will go down. He will judge whether we should go to Heaven or Hell based on how we have treated the poor. Those who have given food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, etc. will go to “eternal life”; those who have not will go to “eternal punishment”. So, judgement has a lot to do with what we do or don’t do! I remember asking a Protestant minister one time on an airplane how he made sense of Matthew 25 if salvation is by faith alone. He frankly said, “I don’t know. I will have to get back to you on that”.

Two last thoughts: 1) The Church has never taught that we can “merit” (or earn) salvation. It’s not really “our” works; it’s God’s Grace working through us if we are open. But, we need to be open in order for these necessary works to occur. 2) The Protestant Reformers changed Scripture (particularly Rom 3:28) so that it would read salvation by “faith alone”. One of the Reformers (Martin Luther) admitted that he changed it. And so, for 500+ years, many people have believed it because of that. The Reformation was all part of the unfortunate situation where people got angry at the Catholic Church, and went too far in how they “protested”. “Salvation by faith alone” and “salvation by Scripture alone” were not taught by Christ, and are thus not found in the Bible.


At 12:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What does "being open" mean?

At 3:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good question, and one that confounds me. Is it a psychological state? Natural? Acquired?

At 9:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

why can't light at Adoration be lowered? As a child (which is not that many years ago) I remember it ad deeming primaily candle-lit,

At 10:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why did the kids at adoration tonight not seem to know how to behave? They were very disruptive to the rest of us trying to pray. yes it is great that they were there and it is wonderful, but perhaps their teachers and parents could go over what is proper behavior during adoration. Its not a social hour of chit chatting with thier friends or racing in and out of the church and they only seemed to get louder when the music started.

At 10:59 PM, Blogger Fr Greg said...

First of all, Anon, I'm sorry if you were distracted. You can blame that on me because I invited them, and didn't go over with them proper etiquette for Adoration.

Secondly, most of them are in 3rd grade. The fact that they were there was great, and I am grateful to their parents for bringing them.

Lastly, they were much more reverent in the last 20 minutes or so. Several of them came up to me afterwards and said they loved it! One girl was truly moved, and said she was 'inspired'. They made a connection with Christ in the Eucharist that could positively affect them for the rest of their lives!

I appreciate the temporary sacrifices of you and the other adults. The hope is that what happened tonight will affect these little ones for all eternity!

At 5:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To anon above:
Hear this as explanation- not defensiveness-

I am one of the parents of the children in attendance Friday. For almost all of those kids (and most of the parents), it was a new experience. The church looks, sounds and smells different compared to what most know. Since I was sitting within that group, much of the "chatter" you may have heard was the kids asking each other about what Fr. Greg was doing at different points. Especially when Fr. walked around with the monstrace, it was a joy, atleast for this parent, to see those kids wide-eyed and totally focused. For the one pew of children sitting together, I watched almost every child, at no parent's urging, make a sign of the cross. They understood that Christ was before them- how beautiful is that?!

As for this time NOT being a social hour for the kids, I do agree with you there. However, I do think it is really wonderul to see a group of young kids celebrating something so beautiful in communion with one another. It is an important in our growth as a community to pray together and what better time to do that than at Adoration.

So I agree, we could have done better to prepare them, but, as I said, it was also new for many parents. It is reasonable to expect 8 yr olds to sit for 45 minutes without getting up for bathroom breaks. I am sorry for any distraction they caused anyone. If it is any consulation to you, our kids did "get it" tonight.

For Fr. Greg-
Great job! I reminded several kids just who they were there to adore. They genuinely love you, and through that, you brought many of them to a new place. You scored a home run!

At 10:17 AM, Anonymous Night Owl said...


I have been the shoes of a parent whose kid acts up. My little nephew became very upset because his brother was able to recieve the Eucharist (his second time) and he was not. Although we took him outside I guess we were not fast enough because you should have seen the looks we got from the other parishoners!

At 10:19 AM, Anonymous Night Owl said...

I heard that people come up to young parents and tell them how their kids were behaving badly during Mass. I find that sad.

At 12:28 PM, Anonymous Kelly said...

Hi, anon #1, what a wonderful question! Anon#2-great follow up question. I am sure FG will have the most complete answer! As followers of Christ, we are called to obey His teachings, receive Him at Mass(Sundays), regularly confess our sins - especially mortal sins(sacrament of reconciliation), love Him above all others/all things, love and serve our neighbor as ourselves. WOW! This is where we are called to remain "open," in mind, heart and soul. Regular reconciliation, in particular, helps us to become open to God's grace....

God's grace enables us to live according to God's will. God's grace is supernatural.

As you become more open to God's grace, you will begin/continue an amazing spiritual journey.

At 4:31 PM, Anonymous Night Owl said...

"As you become more open to God's grace, you will begin/continue an amazing spiritual journey."

Very true-happened in my life!

At 9:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent thorough explanation! Thank you for answering that question!


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