In his latest column for The Catholic Herald, Fr. Earl Fernandes, Dean of the Athenaeum of Ohio, addresses whether or not we should believe for certain that we are going to Heaven so long as we have faith in God. It’s certainly a common idea among many in the Church today. Is it true?
We are having a family debate. We would like to know if we should have blind faith, since we are Catholic Christians and, believe with no doubt we are going to heaven upon death or, should one pray and hope we go to heaven upon death? Some of us believe that with faith in God we will go to heaven no matter what, and some of us are not sure because we are all sinners. How should we feel as Catholics about going to heaven?
Dear Reader, Thank you for your question. Last month a reader asked about judgment at our death and the Last Judgment. We all must answer for our actions- good or evil – in the particular judgment that awaits the soul at death. At the end of time, there will be a universal judgment, which is more like a declaration. We certainly need to have faith in God and to trust in God’s Mercy, taking confidence in the merits of the Passion of Jesus and His intercession and that of the communion of saints. However, while God is merciful, He is also just.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church provides insight (1030): “All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.”
From this statement, we might infer that some are perfectly purified. For example, when someone is baptized on his or her deathbed or when one receives absolution and the apostolic pardon on one’s deathbed, one might reasonably hope that such a person is purified. On the other hand, most of us, even though we strive to be good Catholic Christians are not perfectly purified. We are sinners. We might confess our sins and have the eternal punishment due to sin remitted; some temporal punishment for our sins – for our lesser faults- might remain. While we may find a favorable judgment with respect to salvation, some purification of the soul may still be necessary.
Continue reading Blinding Faith in Personal Sainthood