Salvation, The Catholic Church and a Fitness Club
I was asked to explain Salvation by a member of my family. Since the question was first asked I have done a lot of research into the teachings of my Church. So after much study, here is what I know and believe to be true. Nothing I say below is new. It has always been since the Church began. I’m just trying to put it into my own words so you can understand it better.
Salvation is through the Grace of God alone. There is nothing we can do to save ourselves. However we are called to respond to God’s Salvation through the gift of Faith and works. You cannot just believe and that’s it. God wants and expects us to participate with Him. His Salvation is always there for us. It never goes away. However, God did not make us to be robots. He gave us free will. He wants us to love Him freely. So we may also decide NOT to love Him and turn from Him and so we will not be saved.
The Catholic Church
God/Jesus gave us the Church – the Catholic Church through which we are given Sacraments and will find Salvation. To be a member of the Catholic Church you MUST be baptized with water in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. So anyone properly baptized is a member of the Church.
Are all members “active” Catholics? No. Some are separated through ignorance perhaps. So my protestant brothers and sisters are separated from the Church but have been baptized and so are part of it. Confusing?
A Fitness Club
Think of it like this; you go through a special process to become a member of an exclusive fitness club. BUT – you never “use” the membership or find out how it works. Are you still a member? Yes.
Let’s say you decide to go to a smaller club with less features but also less processes to be a member and stay a member. You are still member of the original fitness center but actively participate in the other lesser center. So as a member of the lesser club, you still get fit but it may take you longer it may be harder because there are fewer programs to help you get fit.
The bigger, better club is like the Catholic Church where the fullness of faith and salvation are found. Other Christian churches are like the lesser club and have many truths taught in them about Christ but they don’t have the FULLNESS of faith.
Salvation can be found in these churches, the road may be harder because there aren’t the Sacraments which impart Grace which help us to be holy and better able to have the strength to do God’s will. But it is important to stress the original “membership” is in the Catholic Church through proper Baptism when original sin is washed away and we become members of the One body of Christ. That is why, if you are properly baptized and convert to the Catholic Church you do not need to be re-baptized.
God is Mercy and Love
We do have a merciful God. He IS love. So we cannot put constraints on Him. He has implanted in each of us a desire to know Him. So those who through no fault of their own do not know Christ may do the best they can. They may be the best they can be. Doing so, they may be following God although they may not be aware. These too can be saved by God.
Merry Christ Mass and have a Joyous New Year!
It is good to remember that Christmas is all about God.
First we commemorate His birth and becoming flesh to save us.
The Christmas Tree is made from an “ever” green which symbolized eternal life just as Holly is poisonous but is always green meaning there is life after physical death.
The Candy Cane also has ties to Christ. First of all, it is made with a hard candy because Christ is the rock of ages. This hard candy was shaped so that it would resemble a “J” for Jesus or, turned upside down, a shepherd’s staff. It is white to represent the purity of Christ. Finally a red stripe was added to represent the blood Christ shed for the sins of the world, and sometimes three thinner red stripes for the stripes He received on our behalf when the Roman soldiers whipped Him. Sometimes a green stripe is added as a reminder that Jesus is a gift from God. The flavor of the cane is peppermint, which is similar to hyssop. Hyssop is in the mint family and was used in the Old Testament for purification and sacrifice. Jesus was offered vinegar while on the cross and it was brought to His lips on a Hyssop branch. Jesus is the pure Lamb of God, come to be a sacrifice for the sins of the world.
May God bless you. May His mother the Blessed Virgin Mary bring you ever closer to her Son Jesus the Christ through the intercession of her prayers. And may the mercy of God be upon you and bring you Peace, Grace and Joy through out the year!
For further reading you may want to check out:
God is Love – Pope Benedict’s encyclical on Love
In Hope we are Saved – Pope Benedicts encyclical on Hope