What would you think of a recipe book that conceals the main ingredients of its recipes? And, what is worse, explains the steps to prepare each dish in a confusing manner? Now, any earthly fare, as good as it may be, is insignificant before the supreme subject of our eternal destiny.
While interpreting certain words by Pope Francis in his interview with Antonio Spadaro, some have wanted to reduce this essential problematic to the simple maxim: ‘You will be judged by the company you keep.’ In effect, if eternal salvation doesn’t depend on the individual, but rather exclusively on our belonging to the People of God, our good or evil works would be indifferent….
But if this is true, why bother trying to practice virtue and to remain in the state of grace? Let’s just live as we wish, and continue to call ourselves Catholics!
Does our eternal destiny depend more on human communities and popular dynamics than on ourselves? To avoid confusion, it’s always a good idea to remember the true Catholic doctrine about the conquest of eternal happiness. .er on our belonging to the people of God, our good or evil works are indifferent.
Teachings of the Magisterium
Table of Contents
Vatican Council II
Catechism of the Catholic Church
John Paul II
Though part of the body of the Church, he is not saved who does not persevere in charity
This Sacred Council wishes to turn its attention firstly to the Catholic faithful. Basing itself upon Sacred Scripture and Tradition, it teaches that the Church, now sojourning on earth as an exile, is necessary for salvation. Christ, present to us in His Body, which is the Church, is the one Mediator and the unique way of salvation. In explicit terms He Himself affirmed the necessity of faith and baptism (cf. Mk 16:16; Jn 3:5), and thereby affirmed also the necessity of the Church, for through baptism as through a door men enter the Church. Whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter or to remain in it, could not be saved. They are fully incorporated in the society of the Church who, possessing the Spirit of Christ accept her entire system and all the means of salvation given to her, and are united with her as part of her visible bodily structure and through her with Christ, who rules her through the Supreme Pontiff and the bishops. The bonds which bind men to the Church in a visible way are profession of faith, the sacraments, and ecclesiastical government and communion. He is not saved, however, who, though part of the body of the Church, does not persevere in charity. He remains indeed in the bosom of the Church, but, as it were, only in a ‘bodily’ manner and not ‘in his heart’ (cf. St. Augustine Bapt. c. Donat. V, 28, 39; ib., III, 19, 26; V, 18, 24: col. 189; In Io. Tr. 61, 2). (Vatican Council II, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, no. 14, November 21, 1964)
Salvation depends on fidelity to baptism and the fulfilment of the commandments
Bishops, as successors of the apostles, receive from the Lord, to whom was given all power in heaven and on earth, the mission to teach all nations and to preach the Gospel to every creature, so that all men may attain to salvation by faith, baptism and the fulfilment of the commandments (cf. Mt 28:18; Mk 16:15-16; Acts 26:17 ff). (Vatican Council II, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, no. 24, November 21, 1964)
A hope that does not concern me personally is not a real hope; though an individualistic understanding of salvation is also incomplete
How could the idea have developed that Jesus’ message is narrowly individualistic and aimed only at each person singly? How did we arrive at this interpretation of the ‘salvation of the soul’ as a flight from responsibility for the whole, and how did we come to conceive the Christian project as a selfish search for salvation which rejects the idea of serving others? […] Life in its true sense is not something we have exclusively in or from ourselves: it is a relationship. And life in its totality is a relationship with him who is the source of life. If we are in relation with him who does not die, who is Life itself and Love itself, then we are in life. Then we ‘live’. Yet now the question arises: are we not in this way falling back once again into an individualistic understanding of salvation, into hope for myself alone, which is not true hope since it forgets and overlooks others? Indeed we are not! Our relationship with God is established through communion with Jesus—we cannot achieve it alone or from our own resources alone. The relationship with Jesus, however, is a relationship with the one who gave himself as a ransom for all (cf. 1Tim 2:6). Being in communion with Jesus Christ draws us into his ‘being for all’; it makes it our own way of being. He commits us to live for others, but only through communion with him does it become possible truly to be there for others, for the whole. […] And however much ‘for all’ may be part of the great hope—since I cannot be happy without others or in opposition to them—it remains true that a hope that does not concern me personally is not a real hope. (Benedict XVI. Encyclical Spe Salvi, nos. 16, 27, 28, 30, November 30, 2007)
Each one will be rewarded in accordance with his works and faith
Death puts an end to human life as the time open to either accepting or rejecting the divine grace manifested in Christ (cf. 2 Tim 1:9-10). The New Testament speaks of judgment primarily in its aspect of the final encounter with Christ in his second coming, but also repeatedly affirms that each will be rewarded immediately after death in accordance with his works and faith. The parable of the poor man Lazarus (Lk 16:22) and the words of Christ on the cross to the good thief (Lk 23:43), as well as other New Testament texts (2Cor 5:8; Phil 1:23; Heb 9:27; 12:23) speak of a final destiny of the soul -a destiny which can be different for some and for others (Mt 16:26). Each man receives his eternal retribution in his immortal soul at the very moment of his death, in a particular judgment that refers his life to Christ: either entrance into the blessedness of heaven-through a purification (Council of Lyons II (1274): DS 857-858; Council of Florence (1439): DS 1304- 1306; Council of Trent (1563): DS 1820.) or immediately (cf. Benedict XII. Benedictus Deus (1336): DS 1000-1001; John XXII. Ne super his (1334): DS 990) – or immediate and everlasting damnation (cf. Benedict XII. Benedictus Deus (1336): DS 1002). At the evening of life, we shall be judged on our love. (Saint John of the Cross. Dichos, 64). (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1021-1022)
To die in mortal sin means being forever separated from God– no one can be united with Him without freely choosing to love him
We cannot be united with God unless we freely choose to love him. But we cannot love God if we sin gravely against him, against our neighbor or against ourselves: ‘He who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him’ (Jn 3:14-15). Our Lord warns us that we shall be separated from him if we fail to meet the serious needs of the poor and the little ones who are his brethren (Mt 25:31-46). To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God’s merciful love means remaining separated from him for ever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called ‘hell.’ (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1033)
The faith of the Church, founded upon divine Revelation: each one of us will be judged according to his works
The faith of the Church, founded upon divine Revelation teaches us that each one of us will be judged according to his works. Take note: it is our person that will be judged in accordance with our works. Thus one understands that in our works it is the person that is expressed and fulfills himself, and so to say, fashions himself. Each person is responsible not only for his own free actions, but also, through such actions, is responsible for himself. (John Paul II. General Audience, July 20, 1983)