What is the least a person must do to attain and maintain eternal life?


The title says it all: what is the least person has to do, under normal circumstances, to attain and maintain eternal life?

Obviously, I am not Roman Catholic, but I do wish to here the Roman Catholic viewpoint obviously. Recently, someone asked a similar question, but they worded it ‘what is the minimum necessary to attain/maintain eternal life?’ Obviously, the answer to that is ‘the grace of God’, but I wish to have the question addressed from the human/personal side.


What are ‘normal’ circumstances? Does a normal person sin? How often? How often would they commit ‘mortal’ sins (the serious ones, ‘sin unto death’ as John puts it as opposed to sin which is ‘not unto death’) and thus, in Catholic theology, ordinarily need the sacrament of Confession?

Certainly there are things Catholics would agree that one needs to do - first and foremost is grace and faith though!

In terms of required belief, the Apostles and Nicene Creeds lay out the miniumum, and the belief in ‘one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church’ necessarily means belief in all the dogmas that She proposes to the faithful.

Then there are the sacraments (as many of them as are available to the individual, of course), the ten commandments, the two great commandments, the precepts of the Church.

Catholicism, though, when one boils down to it, is not a religion of bare minimums, not in the slightest, but about maximising grace and virtue, and knowledge of God, for the benefit of all and not just the salvation of one’s own soul. So to a Catholic it is an odd question to ask ‘what is the bare minimum that one must do’ but rather 'what are the things that one CAN do to maximise God’s grace and virtue in my life and the lives of others, and how many of ‘em can I get around to doing!’


It is like asking - what is the least I can do to stay married to this guy/woman - instead of asking - what can I do to make this marriage a happy one…what can I do to love my husband/wife more, what can I do to make him/her love me etc…

Late Pope John Paul II said - do not be satisfied with mediocracity…


:thumbsup: You said exactly what I was going to post when I read the question. That is the mentality of minimalism that infests our culture today. Everyone wants to get by by doing as little as possible or in reverse pushing the envelope to see how far they can go before it’s considered a sin.


Remember, I was not necessarily asking this question about myself. I confess that I do have times that I feel like I just want to do the bare minimum and I wonder what that is like, but then I remember that I am Confirmed into the Episcopal Church, try my best to attend Holy Eucharist every Sunday and Wednesday, spend way too much time here debating theology and am discerning a call to Anglican Holy Orders. Thus, we can assume I am not guilty of doing the ‘bare minimum’. Certainly, there is definitely more I can do, but something tells me the same could be said of any Christian (not making an excuse, just being realistic).


In Catholic theology, there is quite a bit one should do, all to gain more confidence of attaining eternal life. However, it is a big part of that theology that none of us can actually know who has attained eternal life. Therefore, one could do a lot on this earth to try and attain eternal life and not make it, and one could technically do nothing towards this end and attain it, too (given extenuating circumstances, such as great ignorance of the possibility of an eternal life).

The least one can do, though? Avoid sin, I guess, and when they sin (as defined by Mother Church) confess it so as to receive total absolution and only retain the scars of sin on their souls, the ones that will need to be healed in Purgatory.


Catholicism is obviously something you’ve considered, which leads me to think that you are being called by the Holy Spirit to come home.

Two separate matters: Attain and Maintain.

Attain: Accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. You must eat His flesh and drink His blood… and to do this the right way, you must go to confession regularly so that you are not taking your own condemnation by recieving communion in a state of mortal sin.

Maintain: Well…as the word implies - “maintenance” - I would even add “preventive”. To maintain a reasonably continuous state of grace you must do the basic catholic things really, really well. Those would be:

Pray the Rosary, daily.
Go to Confession & Communion, weekly
Love and serve the Lord and be a witness onto others.

So there’s my two “catholic cents”. :slight_smile:

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum.


The “very least” would be to repent on one’s deathbed out of fear of Hell only (not love of God) and obtain absolution in Confession from a validly ordained priest.

In an ongoing sense, a Catholic/Orthodox would need to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy days, and confess any mortal sins. That’s the “minimum”.

For non-Catholics, I have no idea. For one without access to the sacraments, I can only imagine it is harder.

God Bless


I never meant it personally and I never meant to imply that you are doing those things, but I was trying to point out that there is something very wrong with that question itself… All in all, we are all in the danger of falling into the routine - that includes you and me as well…

Just rememeber what Jesus said about trying to get to heaven through a narrow gate, or the story of a rich young man, who also got it all right, kept the commandent and all, if he lived today he could add that he goes to church every Sunday, gives alms and whatever we are supposed to do, and yet Jesus was saddened by his attitude…

A much better thing would be to try to answer the question Jesus once asked Peter - “Do you love me more than these?”


Follow the teachings of the Jesus Christ’s Church and you will surely attain everlasting glory in Heaven. He died for the His Bride so He takes Her very seriously.

Few would argue that Jesus is a bigamist. But we are forced to come to this conclusion if we do not accept that the only divinely established teaching authority is the Catholic Church. We read in Ephesians 5:22-32 that Church is the spouse of Christ, and that the two become ONE FLESH. Remember that Jesus can have but one wife, thus one Church.


The least? Repent, believe and be baptized and from then on avoid all mortal sin.


The “least” one can do is be baptized and never, ever sin.

This is what Jesus did.

Doesn’t seem like “least”, does it?

Indeed, asking this question is an indication that sanctification is still in process.

We should never strive to do “enough”. Christ surely didn’t stop with simply leading an exemplary Christian life. He died for our sins, making the ultimate sacrifice and paying the ultimate penalty despite being completely undeserving of punishment.

Read “Butler’s Lives of the Saints” and you’ll find example after example of exemplary Christian lives, marked by people who never asked “What’s the least I need to do, Lord?”


Why do you speak of least? It is not about what you must accomplish to make it to heaven. Simply love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength and love your neighbor as yourself. If you do this you will recieve salvation. As Paul says no one can imagine what God has prepared for those who love him.

It is not up to us to judge what is the least required for salvation. That is up to God who is the judge. All we can do is live our lives according to the words of Christ.

Know this; it is through His creation that God reveals Himself to us. There are symbols and mysteries of God’s presence throughout all of creation. The more we are cleansed of evil, the more we will be able to see God’s self revelation through His creation and the closer you will come to God. The more pure our hearts, the more clear the revelation of God will be to us. Prayer, alms and fasting are tools which can make us pure. Through them we learn to love God and neighbor.


Obviously, I am not Roman Catholic, but I do wish to here the Roman Catholic viewpoint obviously. Recently, someone asked a similar question, but they worded it ‘what is the minimum necessary to attain/maintain eternal life?’ Obviously, the answer to that is ‘the grace of God’, but I wish to have the question addressed from the human/personal side.In my life, there is no such animal. I am committed to get as close to the Lord Jesus Christ as I can in this life before He takes me home.

MDRs are for vitamins…:slight_smile:


How can there be a “Least” amount of involvement for salvation? I know that there are folks who are cool, warm, and those who are on fire about their faith. I guess it all depends on where you are in your spiritual journey in life. To me however, it’s not a matter of what’s the least I can do, rather what more can I do!!! The Catholic faith is rich in devotions and various practices, I try to choose the ones that fit me best and try to faithfully follow them. It is not just a one-time proclamation of salvation or receipt of a specific sacrament; it is an ongoing and continual process that must be lived every day.


I would like to make one point. The point of justification or salvation is not about doing or not doing. What Christ accomplished on the cross was to save us from death and from corruption. Those who live according to the flesh will die according to the flesh. Those who live according to the Spirit will live. Christ has given us new life. Accept it with thanksgiving and praise God. Do what Christ says because as He says, if you live Him you will do what He says.


To set out as a minimalist is to be insincere in one’s faith. It is already making up one’s mind that they are closed to what the Holy Spirit calls them to do and is essentially mocking God. Such a soul will not find eternal life since they are not true follower’s of Jesus since this is not the Holy Spirit but a spirit of fear and convenience. Those that try to save their life while looking back at their old way of life are like Lot’s wife and will lose their life.

On the other hand God will not permit a tepid soul to play games with Him. He will push and prod and cause an underachiever over the course of his life to change his attitude and to respond to something greater.

If a person does not consciously set out to be a minimalist but becomes “spiritually lazy” with a mediocre faith then it may be a different matter. This person can be saved if he is baptised and does not commit mortal sin (with the understanding that one must go to mass and received the sacraments to stay out of mortal sin). But this person lives a very risky life as a luke-warm soul. But pragmatically speaking this kind of person is extremely easy prey to Satan and will generally fall from the faith at the first major set back or trial in their life.

This is why having good solid Catholic friends around you are extremely important to one’s own salvation since individuals will generally rise to the higher norms of the social group; not to mention praying for them and setting examples.



To be not sitting on the fence you want to sit on when you die or Jesus returns.

That would be quite a gamble.

From your starting position at the fence, the way to be saved is to journey toward God. Sitting more on one side of the fence than another is quite a gamble. A wind of temptation just might come and blow you off to the other side.

The least you must do is DIE.


Do no evil. Accept the existence of God and that your daily existence depends totally on Him. For that, give total adoration & thanks to Him. Be willing to accept everything that happens to you as God’s will. Acknowledge your own insignificance.

Humility & obedience are two of the toughest things for anyone in a democracy to give and Adoration is almost an impossibility in today’s world. Lucifer & Adam had the same challenge & failed.


Keep the two Greatest Commandments.

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