Lately I've been thinking very much about the Last Things.
Yesterday I spent the afternoon in adoration praying. It was Divine Mercy Sunday of course. I pray always for my family and friends, especially those who are away from the Church. Those who die without the sacraments I commend to Divine Mercy and Our Lady Undoer of Knots. These days when everyone claims distress over so much confusion in the world and the Church, I am not confused about my need for Divine Mercy as transmitted through the Church and the Sacraments. As the Holy Father pointed out, using the words of St. Therese: "The saints avoided putting trust in their own works: “In the evening of this life, I shall appear before you empty-handed, for I do not ask you, Lord, to count my works. All our justices have stains in your sight”.
Having said that, I care very much for my friends and family who have left the Church - most of whom live or lived far better lives than I have. I grew up praying for my parents, who in the end died with the consolation of the sacraments. For a Catholic the sacraments are the ordinary channel of God's grace, giving us good hope of salvation. It is why we strive to be faithful and frequent the sacraments, and pray to be preserved from an unprovided death. I may have not stated it very well, but it would be a serious matter to deliberately leave the Church. I was always taught that and have always prayed 'for my brothers who are away'.
I went online to find something definitive regarding the fate of those who leave the Church and die. I will post it just to remind Catholics who may think it is of little confidence.
If a Catholic converts to another religion, will he attain heaven? The debate in our family is that the Lord will still accept the fact that he is practicing a religion even though he converted. My answer to them is that he will not attain heaven, although how can I judge?
Ultimately, you cannot judge since you do not know for certain the state of the person’s conscience. This does not mean, however, that you cannot or should not warn the individual against the gravely dangerous course of action he is undertaking.
The First Vatican Council pointed out that in addition to intellectual arguments for the truth of the Catholic faith, God "confirms by his grace those whom he has translated into his admirable light [i.e., of the Catholic faith], so that they may persevere in this light, not abandoning them unless he is first abandoned" (Decree on the Catholic Faith 3).
Those who have embraced the Catholic faith are thus in a special position because of the extra grace they are given in maintaining their faith.