Questioning my faith.

I’m having issues with my Faith. I know God exists. That is not the issue. My issue is that growing up I was taught that God loved everyone and if you were truly sorry for your sins and prayed, you would be forgiven and would be sent to the kingdom of Heaven.

I was confirmed last year, and in my confirmation class, I raised the question of if Catholics believe that only Catholics were the only people who made it to Heaven. My teacher, who is a Deacon, told me that everyone who is not Catholic goes to Hell. That really bothered me. The majority of people I know are not Catholic but are good people. I don’t believe that all of them are going to Hell. People don’t generally choose a certain denomination just for the fun of it. They go to whatever church their parents go to. They don’t all have the choice to be Catholic. Some people don’t even know about Catholicism. How is it fair that they be sent to Hell? If God is really the loving being I was taught about, why would he send his beautiful creations to Hell? I just don’t think he has it in him.

If someone could just help me understand this, I would greatly appreciate it.

Who is your teacher? What he/she is saying is false and ridiculous.

A person can be a non-Catholic and still go to Heaven. The road to Heaven may be long and narrow but it’s not that narrow.

*My teacher, who is a Deacon, told me that everyone who is not Catholic goes to Hell. *

If you are sure that the deacon told you that incorrect information you may wish to tell the parish priest so that he can point the deacon in the right direction. If someone tells you something that doesn’t sound quite right ask the person where in official Church teaching you could read about …

I am guessing that you are about 13 years old so maybe you could get a copy of YouCat - Youth Catechism - and read up on the Catholic Faith. Amy Welbourne’s *Prove *It series about Jesus, the Church and Prayer is written for young people and your parents may buy the books for you.

No one, Catholics included, is guaranteed a place in heaven. Everyone, including non-Christians has the possibility of going to heaven by the grace of God. The Catholic Church was founded by Jesus Christ and to leave the Catholic Church knowing this would make it very difficult for that person to be saved.

One incorrect statement by one person is not enough to question the entirety of the Catholic Faith. That would be like saying one incorrect statement by one teacher would be enough to leave school. :slight_smile:

All the best.

I hope that helps.

The Church considers all persons baptized with the trinitarian rite who intend what the Church intends by baptism as Christians. They have an imperfect union with the Church, but they are Christians. Your deacon ought to know this. Perhaps you misunderstood him–let’s hope so. :slight_smile:

As for the possible salvation of non-Christians the Church teaches this–from the Catechism:

Possible salvation of non-Christians: #s 846-848.

“Outside the Church there is no salvation”
846 How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers?335 Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body:
Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.336
847 This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church:
Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience - those too may achieve eternal salvation.337
848 "Although in ways known to himself God can lead those who, through no fault of their own, are ignorant of the Gospel, to that faith without which it is impossible to please him, the Church still has the obligation and also the sacred right to evangelize all men."338

So, you have no more reason to fear for your friends’ salvation than you have for your own. :wink: Depending on their denominations, what they do not have is all the sacraments, especially that of the Eucharist. Christ instituted the 7 sacraments to impart God’s graces to us and to strengthen us in the battle against sin and evil. Your Protestant friends are innocent of deliberately rejecting the Church since they are ignorant of what it really is and what it teaches. In that, though, you can help them. :slight_smile:

Reformulated positively:confused:. Does that in essence that for thousands of years the Church wallowed around in ignorance and negativity until this positive reformulation was fully developed?

If that is the case then every doctrine and dogma that we have could apparently be open to reformulation,either positive or negative, sometime in the future…

And what of those who are not in the least ignorant of the Catholic faith, which includes I would assume a pretty good number of Protestant and Orthodox believers as well as many non Christians, and who still actively and consciously reject the Catholic Church?

Or does it say that it really doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you believe in something?

Careful there. It’s not saying that it doesn’t matter what you believe in as long as you believe in something. And I wouldn’t say that the Church has been wallowing around like that for the past thousands of years.

I would go into further detail but I seriously got to sleep and wake up early tomorrow. I hope somebody can fill you in on this in the meanwhile.

Awesome answer…

I was raised irreligious, my dad had no religion ever, and my mother was raised Catholic but was never confirmed. People can, and will choose. The most devout Catholics I know personally are converts(minus one friend). To be saved, one should join the Catholic Church.

remember we got purgatory - they may go their first :smiley:

I’m surprised a deacon teaching either a high school or a RCIA class would throw something like that out there. No, non Catholics do not automatically go to hell.

Historically, and spiritually, salvation has flowed through the Catholic Church since the time of Christ, even to those who identify as “non-Catholic.” The Church is the visible New Covenant between God and man. Christianity would not have been kept alive, intact, and capable of being handed down if it was not for the efforts of the Church through the Dark Ages, for example.

I’ve found it helpful to think of the Church as a huge conduit. There may be a lot of pipes flowing off that conduit, but they get at least some of what is flowing through the big conduit. Or even a banquet. There might be an hors d’oeurve station and a salad bar at that banquet. You could stay alive on the salad and the munchies. But you wouldn’t get the roast, the turkey, and the lobster newberg. Sorry for the mundane analogies, which fall quite a bit short of what is really going on spiritually, but you get the idea.

The Catechism itself teaches that while salvation is through the Church, this is not the ONLY means of salvation: In ways known only to God, even pagans and atheists of good will might in fact be saved. See the above posters.

After all, God is God, and will save whomever He wants. However, they would not have the fullness of faith (and consequently, the fullness of joy) that comes from the True Faith. How could they? They wouldn’t have the knowledge base, the practices of prayer and meditation, or the Sacraments to really bolster their relationship with God.

If you haven’t already done so, get yourself a copy of the catechism (it’s available online at the USCCB, if you want to read it on the computer,) or in paperback form. It’s hefty and intellectual, but not at all difficult to read, assuming one can read at a high school level. It’s made for adults. It takes some getting used to. But, let me tell you this: As a lifelong Catholic, whose catechesis pretty much ended with the Baltimore Catechism (question and answer format,) and Confirmation, I’m always surprised when I dig into it. No, I can’t quote it paragraph by paragraph. But I’m really enjoying getting into it. I think it should be “required reading” for any intelligent adult Catholic who wants to learn more about their faith, and how to put it into action.

The fullness of Truth and the Deposit of Faith exist only within the Catholic Church. God gave His True Church the Sacraments as a Divinely ordained means for men to attain salvation. These Sacraments are the surest means to salvation because God instituted them specifically for this purpose.

There may be pieces of Truth in other ecclesial communities, but every piece of truth is in fact Catholic Truth. The Church is the Mystical Body of Christ and it is possible to belong to this Body outside of the institutional Catholic Church if one is truly ignorant of the True Faith and lives life the best way he knows how. There is a point though when one cannot plead ignorance and it is questionable how many people are actually completely ignorant of the Catholic Faith. Many Protestants more or less know some or all of Catholic teachings and simply reject them. Regardless of whether or not someone is raised in this environment, if you knowingly reject the Church in any way, you are rejecting Christ. Those who reject Christ will go to hell.

While non-Catholics might be saved, only Catholics will be in heaven. In ways known only to God, whether this be through purgatory or otherwise, a conversion/repentance happens to those outside of the Church. All must be one in heaven and Christ did not establish the protestant denominations, He established one Holy and Apostolic Catholic Church.

Since we are talking about an eternal destination, I would personally want not only myself but everyone I know to come to Christ’s one and only Church, wherein the fullness of Truth and the surest means to attain eternal salvation is found.

It’s also worthy of mention that the everyone is saved as long as they are a “good person” notion is a fallacy and a recent innovation that leans towards the doctrine of universalism, a heresy. There is a real hell and many souls will end up there. The Church fathers and most if not all Doctors of the Church throughout history taught this. It’s not a “nice” thing, so you won’t hear much about hell in most sermons these days, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Too many people today presume upon the mercy of God, which is a sin in and of itself.

No, we can’t fob God off by claiming that all religions are the same, and that’s not what the Church teaches. What the Church is saying is that the redemption Christ won on the cross makes it possible for all humankind to be saved. The redemption has already taken place and applies to everyone, not just believers–this was the work of God in Christ, therefore, all who come to salvation do so through the work of Christ alone.

All who endeavor to seek the truth, who live according to the grace God gave them are a part, although not a perfect part, of Christ’s Church. But, this does not give anyone a “free pass”. Living according to the grace God gives us is not easy–it’s hard, especially if we don’t have the helps God gave us in the sacraments. The only baptism available to those who never heard of Christ is that of desire. And only God knows who qualifies for that. Trust me, I am everlastingly grateful that I have not only heard of Christ but I have, throught the grace of God, the privilege of receiving the sacraments Christ established for our salvation.

The Church also teaches that there are those who have barriers that they cannot overcome, such as invincible ignorance, cultural prohibitions, having been taught to hate the Church, etc. Again, only God knows how much these influences affect each person. We cannot ask heroic virtue of people when we ourselves do not practice it. But, we can know that God’s love and mercy are balanced by his justice. I would not want to be in the place of many who know the truth but hang onto old grudges or make excuses. All the Church is saying is that we cannot judge anyone’s final destiny–those who appear saintly may be worse than someone living in a deep jungle worshiping trees. If the tree worshiper cries out, “Have mercy on me a sinner!” in his own way, while the “saintly” persons says, “I’m fine as I am, surely God accepts me.” Who do you think is in greater danger of damnation? :slight_smile:

Depending on how he meant it, your teacher was both correct and incorrect… he certainly should have clarified a bit for you what it means to say that there is no salvation except through the Catholic Church…

To wit: all people who enter heaven are catholic… but that does NOT mean that they were “visible members” of the church here on earth. There are those who were invincibly ignorant, such as the protestant child raised without ever receiving proper catechesis, the native man on the remote island, etc. There are also those who were never given any chance to accept the faith, such as the aborted babies.

And yet God is just, merciful, and loving. We can rest assured that these people, who never had any fair chance to accept the fullness of truth, are given the justice of being allowed some means of possibly choosing God. We can certainly HOPE for their salvation by the grace of our loving God. These are what we would term as members of the “invisible church”, they would be visibly Catholic if they had ever been given the fair opportunity to do so. While not Catholic in the sense of attending mass, they attain salvation nonetheless because of their invisible membership in the Body of Christ.

Excellent point… I like that word. Universalisim. I just left a Roman Catholic Church that was like that. From the principle up to the nun and priest!! Too many people think they can do what they want and live how they want because “GOD will understand.”

For clarification, I think you meant a parish and/or parish school… not the Roman Catholic Church. There is only ONE Roman Catholic Church, and she despises the heresy of universalism

Yes exactly. I was just trying to differentiate between RCC and Eastern or orthodox Church’s. This is my new Church. I love my new priest!! I was so happy that I did not have to leave the Catholic Faith!!

Check out this Homily!!

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