Monday, April 09, 2018

Eternal life ...

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”.[60]

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.

Full Question 
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.
"The situation of those who, by the heavenly gift of faith, have embraced the Catholic truth is by no means the same as that of those who, led by human opinions, follow a false religion; for those who have accepted the faith under the guidance of the Church can never have any just cause for changing this faith or for calling it into question. (Decree on the Catholic Faith 3)" - Catholic Answers

So pray.  Pray, pray, pray.  Frequent the sacraments.  No matter what happens, no matter what your state in life, no matter your 'moral condition' or conflict with Catholic teaching - never, ever leave the Church. 

A proverb often mistakenly attributed to Luther, works in this case: "Katholish ist gut sterben." - "It is good to die Catholic."


  1. Worth reflecting on Terry. There is so much going on that would and does drive people away. We have another wave of clerical sexual abuse being published in a local Diocese. Some going back 40 yrs. In one instance a pastor of my childhood parish. He celebrated both my parents furneral Masses. I knew him as a young adult. We now have regular commercials telling how to file a claim if a victim. Then the liturgy and theological debates and controversies like brush fires threatening to become a four alarm fire. My recent trip to France and England gave me reason to reflect on the history of Church and State political infighting. We think we have a mess in our day! Back then a king indirectly orders the murder of his Archbishop, the mob cut off the heads of statues, the Pope was mocked and worse, all Church property was seized. Still some people held fast to the Faith. We have it easy.

    1. You are right about things that may have driven a person away from the Church so there is always that. Sounds like a great trip - it helps put our times in perspective.

  2. My mom died reconciled with the church, not becausr sgevreceived the sacraments but because she wad willing to see a priest,although she died before his visit. She also asked God for help a few days before dying.

    My sisyer didn't want a priest and I thought she was going to die in the hospital so brought the green scapula there. When she found it in hospice care, she had no idea what it was. I don't know if my belief was strong enougj to save her.

    1. If my friend had a priest or asked for one I would have been more assured, but as it was, he planned his own funeral in a Lutheran church. So all I can do is pray. I think Our Lord heard your prayers for your mom - the slightest inclination or prayer moves the Divine Mercy with overwhelming grace, I am convinced of that. Her prayer for help would not go unanswered.

  3. Death bed conversations and reconciliations are beautiful. I think of Lord Marchmain in Brideshead revisited. How it fought it till the last minute then accepted the priest and with no words made the sign of the cross. My own father's death was similar minus the money and mistress. He spontaneously recited the confitior and was attended to by a priest. We will never know the silent convertions that take place every day. The hour of death is sacred and, I think, often redemptive. The RC Church, for all her many faults, brings scantifying grace. Something the others lack.

    1. I meant of course conversions. Word check got me again although conversations is appropriate too I suppose.

    2. "Deathbed conversations"

      As I have watched many dying, keeping vigil with family/friends, I know in my heart these conversations take place. I watch the rhythm of breathing, the sighs, the facial expressions of the dying one before me. I pray too that such a conversation will bring peace, conversion, salvation.

      We are not made privy to what words are spoken since these words are between our Risen Lord and the dying person but it gives me hope and consolation to ponder such a merciful act. To think that up until the last breath our Lord will come if we but call out to Him.

      If the dying person is not a Christian or has been away from the faith, I find myself praying for them and asking our Lord Jesus to come to their aid. I ask for the hope that the dying person would hear His call, take His hand. I always ask our Lady and St. Joseph to accompany and intercede for them too.

      Gracias a Dios y a la Madre de Dios. Let's keep hoping and praying for all the world over!


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