Catholics - What's needed for salvation?

What does the catholic church say is needed for salvation?

How is someone outside the catholic church saved? I know they believe someone can be saved that’s not catholic.


Hey Markie,

To start, the Catholic Church does not have a magic formula which can be used to determine whether or not you are saved nor whether or not someone who recently passed has been saved. It does however, say that God being God may save anyone he chooses; Catholic, protestant, atheists and Muslims alike. But its his call and we can’t possibly know.

That said, in the normative sense, Jesus himself tells us in Scripture that we must be born of water and spirit (baptized), not at any particular age or state of reason mind you, just born which is not something we choose to do, its rather something that happens to us. He also told the rich man that asked how he might be saved to follow the commandments.
Paul tells us how we are saved by works and not by faith alone which further shows how Jesus’ commandment to Love one another must be followed to have reasonable hope in your salvation. To love each other is to do good works. If you don’t love one another (don’t do works) you are ignoring Jesus’ one commandant that he gave us, which he later said, again, you must follow the commandments to be saved.

Then it gets a bit tricky for some folks but in a nutshell, Catholics like Protestants believe that we have been saved, by the sacrifice and blood of Jesus on the cross (redemption) and our baptism into faith, salvation will be granted through the Mercy of God. For by grace we are saved through Faith. But this is where Catholics are just getting started and Protestants put the issue to rest as if there is nothing more to say or consider. Essentially, Catholics believe not only that we have been saved but also that we are being saved (think of Paul teaching that we must persevere to the end and work out our salvation in fear and trembling) and that we will be saved if God grants his mercy on us on our judgment day.

If you believe God’s Church is the pillar and foundation of the truth as scripture clearly says then the Catholic teaching that we have been saved, are being saved and will be saved is what you need to consider for your salvation. You won’t fall victim to the vices of presumption or despair the way many protestants do. Rather you will grow spiritually on your journey and realize (hopefully) more and more hope as you age and grow in love and service to God. On the other hand, if you believe in the church only because of the Bible as many protestants do you will subject yourself to personal interpretations and probably end up assuming the easy way out… once saved always saved, which of course is not Biblical.

So it comes down to this Markie, do you believe in the Church because of the Bible or do you believe in the Bible because of the Church. Unlike the chicken or the egg riddle, we know which came first here!!!
Thanks be to God.

What saves anyone is Jesus and the grace of God. (For by grace you have been saved… (Eph 2:8))

Having said that we are all, basically, held accountable for responding (or not) to what we know/understand about Jesus and His salvation. There is a thing called “invincible ignorance” where a person is not held responsible for something he or she does not know AND has no way of knowing. So if someone does not (for example) know that Jesus founded one Church and that the Church is the Catholic Church, he or she is not held responsible if they follow the particular belief system they do know and understand.

Of course, in today’s world it is a bit difficult to not at least know that the Catholic Church claims it is the true church founded by Jesus. So folks have a serious obligation to investigate these claims, which should lead them to the realization the claim is true.

So so glad you put that last sentence in there InternetWoman.

Actually the quote from Ephesians is (2:8-10)

For BY GRACE you have been saved through faith and this is not from you; it is the gift of God. It is NOT FROM WORKS, so no one may boast.

Having said that he then goes on to explain the role of works:

So we are saved BY grace, THROUGH faith, FOR good works.

I guess I had James on the mind InternetWoman…sorry
But Paul does teach that we must “work” out salvation too. I wasn’t quoting Ephesians in my post.

Everything IW said is correct and in James you will read of the importance of being saved by works and not by faith alone. There is no disconnect here, both are true.

Abraham was made righteous in his works. I always get a little kick out of the fact that Catholics seem to have to help each other out explaining this sometimes because there is a lot of both/and in Catholic theology that protestants never encounter nor have to deal with.

The original question asked was more about how the Church teaches we get saved not about what saves us, which of course would have prompted the response more like internetwoman’s reference to invincible ignorance, etc. Its the how vs what that usually makes these forums confusing. Both questions are raised but it seems with an emphasis on those outside the church and How saved.
Peace IW

Thank you!

It seems to me as I am learning, that “We are saved by Grace, through Faith”, and then the works will follow.

This seems confirmed by John 3:16, John 5:24, and other places, that our faith is what saves. Naturally, if you have faith and believe in Jesus, it’s pretty hard to not want to do what he told us to.

As for “Work out our salvation”, I think that means as we go we must keep trying to now do what Jesus taught. The statement does say “work out our salvation”, not work for our salvation.

I agree. Works follow as a result. But God gives us free will remember and we can choose to do the works or not. So we have to choose Jesus and Works that follow both. Avoiding sin is itself a work;

Initially – and normally - an adult hears the Gospel --repents and believes with Faith and is baptized into Christ… (or a baby is baptized)

(thus they are members of the body of Christ the Church…).

The Christian is then to remain living in Christ…in that true life we are given in him.

They are of course to continue to follow Christ in his Church - professing and living the Catholic Faith.

Such is referring to someone who hears the Gospel and is baptized already in full communion with the Catholic Church.

As to those who are not Catholic- well first off they are invited to become Christians in the Church or if they are non- Catholic Christians - they are invited to the full Communion with the Catholic Church.

There are various aspects of Christian life and faith that exist outside the Church but which point back to the Church (and bring about a communion though not full)…such as Baptism, Sacred Scripture etc…

So is it possible for them to “go to heaven”? yes.

Is it possible for those who have not heard even the name of Jesus or about his Church- to be saved?

Yes it is possible for those who through not fault of their own do not know Jesus or his Church…but who still seek God…and seek to live according to his will as they see in their conscience …

It will of course still be Jesus who saves them…and the Church is still involved mysteriously- for it his his Body…

And though such is possible - though say a person in some place that has never heard the name of Jesus to be saved…we know that we need to still propose the Gospel - Jesus Christ Crucified and Risen -to all. And we invite all to the fullness of what Jesus has given us.

Pope Benedict XVI:

“The need to proclaim Christ boldly and courageously is a continuing priority for the Church; indeed it is a solemn duty laid upon her by Christ who enjoined the Apostles to ‘go out to the whole world, proclaim the Good News to all creation.’”

  • Pope Benedict XVI, Address to Japanese Bishops, December 2007

We’re to come to love God with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength and our neighbor as ourselves. This is the definition of man’s justice-what makes us* just* in Gods eyes. This begins with grace followed by our response of faith. As we continue to remain in Him, God works in us; together we work out our salvation. This is the New Covenant, prophesied in Jer 31. Absolute eternal beatitude is the promise.The Church was established to tell us about this good news and to help us achieve its purpose.

Regarding Faith and Works in St. Paul

Pope Benedict XVI

(Two audiences from the Year of St. Paul) (begins a bit down)

and one from a few years earlier:

There are a lot of well said in this post (for example by baptism, John 3:3) and I’d add these:

But if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments. (Matthew 19:17)

In all truth I tell you, if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.Anyone who does eat my flesh and drink my blood has eternal life, and I shall raise that person up on the last day. (John 6:53-54

God is not bound to Sacraments or commandments to save anyone, because he is sovereign, but He has showed and promised us a safe path to salvation by His teachings.

Not forgetting that to be saved we must die in a state of grace.

Which is actually the ONLY thing that we must do to be saved.

Question - what does the church say is needed to be in a state of grace?

To repent of any mortal sin. Mortal sin causes the loss of sanctifying grace. Repentance, normally in the form of a good confession, restores sanctifying grace.

[quote=CCC]1861 Mortal sin is a radical possibility of human freedom, as is love itself. It results in the loss of charity and the privation of sanctifying grace, that is, of the state of grace. If it is not redeemed by repentance and God’s forgiveness, it causes exclusion from Christ’s kingdom and the eternal death of hell, for our freedom has the power to make choices for ever, with no turning back. However, although we can judge that an act is in itself a grave offense, we must entrust judgment of persons to the justice and mercy of God.

[quote=CCC]1468 "The whole power of the sacrament of Penance consists in restoring us to God’s grace and joining us with him in an intimate friendship."73 Reconciliation with God is thus the purpose and effect of this sacrament. For those who receive the sacrament of Penance with contrite heart and religious disposition, reconciliation "is usually followed by peace and serenity of conscience with strong spiritual consolation."74 Indeed the sacrament of Reconciliation with God brings about a true “spiritual resurrection,” restoration of the dignity and blessings of the life of the children of God, of which the most precious is friendship with God.75

The Grace of Christian Baptism, intact at the time of death.

We can voluntarily forfeit our Baptismal Grace through mortal sin. It can be restored by Sacramental Confession.

Once Baptized, only mortal sin can endanger our souls. For a sin to be “mortal” (leads to death) you need to have full knowledge of the sinful nature of the act and complete freewill consent. If either knowledge or consent is incomplete then the sin is venial only. No amount of venial sins will condemn us.

All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death. [1John 5:17]

A person who is Baptized and avoids subsequent mortal sin is assured salvation. A person who does not commit a mortal sin after Confession is assured salvation.

Being “saved” and being “in a state of Grace” are the same thing. It means “if you die you go to heaven.”

You are correct.

All good works done and holy living during a lifetime have no merit if a person dies in a state of mortal sin. On the other hand the worst kind of person - mass murderer, rapist or whatever - has the chance until their dying breath to be saved.

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