Not necessarily. I reached a point during my spiritual journey where I realized that “Some day, I should become Catholic,” but I had all kinds of social and emotional reasons why I couldn’t do it just then - and I figured that God understood, until someone pretty much beat me over the head with this very concept - that, if you know the right thing, then you must do the right thing - you can’t wait for conditions to become perfect, because you may well be on your death bed by then, and who knows whether you will even be conscious, or able to talk.
I was also journeying with my grandmother through her last illness and death. It’s not like on TV where the people are talking lucidly right up until they die - for Grandma, the power of speech was the first thing to go, and she certainly never realized that the words she had spoken just before then were to have been her very last - would she have asked for a priest, and to convert to the Catholic faith, if she had known at that moment that she would never speak again for the rest of her life? There is no way to know.
But the other thing I learned during that journey is that dying is exactly like being sick - you think you are going to recover. You don’t actually know that this is the end.
But what of those who are aware that the Catholic Church claims to be Christ’s Church and yet discount this claim because they never had the “zeal” for Christ to actually look into it for who knows what reason? What if they are perfectly happy and content with a heresy such as “once saved always saved” and feel no need to go further or even to entertain the notion of “those Catholic claims”? Despite the ramifications of what such a heresy can to for this soul specifically - what of that rejection of the Truth for convenience sake? Somewhere in there culpability can pop up - even if they never got around to “being convinced” of the Catholic claims. Do you see what I mean?
Yes, I do. At some point, it’s entirely possible that they made a conscious choice to reject the Catholic Church, even if it’s true, just because it’s more comfortable to remain Protestant, or to get back at someone in the Catholic Church who offended them in some way. (Kind of like drinking poison in the hope that the other person will die.)
Another example - perhaps the whole notion of the Real Presense just “turns them off” - it “doesn’t make sense” to them and they go on there way, never having given this crazy concept a second thought. I mean there’s a fine line in there between invincible ignorance and willful rejection. The line itself has eternal consequences, no?
Also, to think that the sin of holding to heresy can only apply to those who are totally convinced that the heresy they hold to actually is heresy, well, that just isn’t logical to me.
I remember when I came to awareness that the beliefs I professed were heretical by the standards of the Catholic Church, and also becoming aware that the Catholic Church seemed to me to be the only Church that actually had any standards - I think that’s the point where my own ignorance became vincible - that is, I began to think about such things in an open-minded way. That was about six years before my actual conversion.
Somewhere in all of this, people are responsible for their response to the Gospel. All of it - not just part of it. And in essense, that means their response to the Church he founded - I just hope us in the Church are offering a clear and urgent invitation to Christ’s Church in the first place. But if we walk around saying that “most everybody” can be saved despite their beliefs and rejections - then it sort of makes conversion to Christ’s Church non-essential.
I agree with you completely.
Myself, I pretty much had to be bashed over the head (metaphorically speaking, of course) and be told that I was going straight to Hell, because I knew too much not to become Catholic. By the grace of God, I made a conscious decision not to take it as an insult, and decided to investigate the matter, to see whether it was true.
Three days later, I was booking an interview with a priest for RCIA.