Sunday, November 11, 2012

Salvation and the Year of Faith

Over the last several decades, there has been a lack of fervor in bringing the Catholic faith to unbelievers. Indeed, it would not be far from the mark to say that there is a false idea that there is no reason to evangelize because we cannot judge anyone's faith. There is that sense of the anonymous Christian, meaning that everyone is saved as long as they are pretty much nice people.

The Church teaches that outside the Church there is no salvation. She does not mean literally that, if one were not a member of the Catholic, he would go to hell. Salvation happens only through Christ, even if one does not, through no fault of their own, believe in the Gospel. Christ died on the cross to redeem us from sin. The Church is the Body of Christ and continues his work here on earth. So, we can say also that salvation is through the Church. When I was in a Catholic grammar school before the Vatican Council, we were told that, yes, non-Catholics could be saved as long as they died in the state of grace, that is, without any mortal sins on their souls.

The Pope has opened the
Year of Faith on October 11, fifty years after the opening of the Council and twenty years after the promulgation of the new Catechism of the Catholic Church. But, why is the Pope so concerned about evangelization, in that he is strongly all Catholics to know their Faith correctly and to share that Faith with others? Cannot unbelievers be saved? Does everyone have to be a Catholic? Ralph Martin in his book Will Many Be Saved? (Eerdmans, 2012), points out something that many have not considered. The counciliar document Lumen Gentium says that there is salvation for non-Catholics if there is goodness and truth in them (no. 16). But, the same paragraph goes on to remind us that Christ commanded his Apostles to go to the whole world, teaching everything that He has taught them and to baptize them. The reason is that without the Church there is a lack of the fullness of truth and a absence of the grace of the holy sacraments. One is susceptible to the errors of the world and even more to the temptations of the evil one. One is more prone to evil and the effects thereof. In this world everyone needs the help of Christ; they need to really know Him and to realize His love for them.

If someone is hungry, we would not be satisfied with giving them any kind of food. We would give them nourishing food. So, yes, salvation is for those who live their lives in truth and goodness as best as they know how. Out of love for them, don't we want to give them even more? Christ is asking us to do this just as He asked his Apostles.

In his
Year of Faith, let's make a real effort to know the Catholic Faith. We will grow even closer to our Lord and want to let others know what we have discovered.

Father Stanley

Hymnus Anni Fidei / Hymn of the Year of Faith


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