What's the purpose of being Catholic

Few days ago I had a discussion with my newly revert friend. We were discussing about salvation and I explained to her that in Catholic Church there’s no guarantee that you are saved, because she still has prostestant mind that once you believe in Jesus, you are saved. So her understanding is that as long as you believe in Jesus you will go to heaven/purgatory. I told her that even though purgatory exists, but hell does exist also. So there’s possibility for Catholic to go to heaven, purgatory or hell. I believe no one really knows where they go when they die.

However, I explained that as long as we do what we are supposed to do, we shouldn’t be afraid of where we will be going when we die. I gave an example of students having examination; as long as the students studyhard and prepare well, they shouldn’t be worried of failing the exam.

  1. What’s the purpose of being a Catholic if there’s no guarantee that we will be saved?

I kind of stumble here. So any help is appreciated.

We have a better shot of being saved here. But simply looking at it as a matter of salvation is shallow. We are to love God with all our hearts and the Catholic religion is the only one where this can be done to the fullest. We can love Him how He desires us to love Him. We can believe ALL that He has revelaed and we can put our faith in ALL that He has commanded us to do and ALL He has promised. Likewise, we can receive ALL his gifts. Because of this, our salvation is more attainable. Those who choose to reject some of what God has revealed, to disobey some of His commands, to doubt some of His promises, or to refuse some of His gifts, will surely not be saved. But if we truly desire to love God with all our hearts, we would be here even if it didn’t affect our salvation.

The purpose of being Catholic: to follow Jesus.

It is the only Church He started. It is the only one He intended. It is the only one where we can receive all the Sacraments He instituted.

The old Baltimore Catechism states that God made us “To know Him, to love Him and to serve Him in this world so we can be with Him forever in the next.”

His Church is the best place to be in order to receive as much grace as possible on our road to heaven.

Vince 2 Paul,

The purpose of being Catholic is to get to Heaven.

The reason to be Catholic and not Protestant is that the Catholic Church has the fullness of truth that Protestant churches do not have. Your Protestant friend may think that she has guarantees that she will get to Heaven, but she is simply mistaken. At least in the Catholic Church you have an accurate picture of things.

In my experience, if you press a Protestant or an Evangelical hard enough, he will admit that his salvation is not guaranteed. The way I have heard them phrase it is that “you cannot live like the Devil and expect to get into Heaven.” Theologically, what they do is claim that the person’s initial conversion was not sincere and so the person was never acrually saved; if he thought he was saved, he was deluding himself. So in fact, when you get right down to it, Protestants actually believe Catholic teaching rather than their own.

  • Liberian

The purpose of being a Catholic is to honor and be obedient to him through the sacraments in the Church he founded for us and to recognize our task as not being for our own salvation but to work harder to help those who disregard the above, and do our best to bring the lost sheep into the fold where they will be truly blessed. Its not an easy thing to do, yet we must.

Yes, I agree with the other poster that to be Catholic is to follow Jesus and the Church He founded. No where in the Bible or in any early tradition is one guarenteed salvation. If one dies in a state of grace they go to heaven, if not they go to hell. Additionally, the Catholic Church has the 7 sacraments which Jesus instituted for the sake of our salvation. Catholics have the benefit of gaining Christs absolution for sins throught the Sacrament of Reconcilliation. Non-Catholics do not have this option, therefore they must make a perfect act of contrition for their mortal sins (which many of them don’t believe that some sins are mortal). I’m not saying that only practicing Catholics get to heaven, to the contrary, they certainly may attain salvation as the CCC states. Catholics also have the benefit of receiving Christ in the Eucharist–this is the Real Presence of Jesus sanctifying our souls. Another important thing that non-Catholics do not receive.

Now, we can get into all sorts of discussion about salvation, it is a very deep subject. But I want to bring up that most non-Catholic Christians believe that the Sacrifice of Jesus “covers” or “cloaks” their sins. That is how God allows them into heaven. Catholic theology is quite different. We believe that the our souls are sanctified by God’s grace through His sacraments because of the merits of Jesus (not our own). So, we believe that Baptism is an actual cleansing of original and all personal sin and we believe when Christ absolves us of our sin through a priest that the sin is no longer on our soul. (This is not to say that we do not have to pay penance for said sin, but that the sin no longer “stains” the soul, once forgiven)

Liberian is absolutely correct. There are not guarentees of salvation in the teachings of Jesus or anywhere in the Bible. I would discuss with your friend the concept of mortal sin and have biblical examples available to back it up. Same with discussion on the sacraments.

It sounds like your friend could use a good RCIA class or maybe read up on some Catholic theology. There are lots of awesome books out there that explain the faith in lay-person terms. At the minimum, she should probably study the Catechism and the Bible…as should we all.:slight_smile:

The illegal alien’s purpose for getting married is to become legal and to stay in the country. :rolleyes:

This is what I hear when asked “What is the purpose of being Catholic?” and getting the answer “To get to heaven.”

It’s as if getting “in” is the real goal. The obvious response then is “then what?” I think many people have given no thought to what happens when the pearly gates clang shut behind us and we are “in”.

I think that answer (getting in) conveys perhaps a too goal-oriented picture. Getting to heaven ought to be a consequence of becoming a child of God and loving Him selflessly and giving of yourself completely. Experiencing God face to face and loving and being loved is something too static sounding for us.

Imagine an earthly home where you live with your parents and they LOVE you and you LOVE them, but that isn’t all there is to your life. You also enjoy the home you share and the personal and emotional accessibility to them. You grow and learn and interact with many others with whom you are in the family. You become more and more of whom you were MADE to BE.

Anyhow, I was just kidding with that first line. It truly popped into my head, but I don’t wish to offend anyone by it.

The question itself is flawed. The proper questions are these:

Q. Why did God make you?
A. God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him for ever in heaven.

Q. What must we do to save our souls?
A. To save our souls, we must worship God by faith, hope, and charity; that is, we must believe in Him, hope in Him, and love Him with all our heart.

Q. How shall we know the things which we are to believe?
A. We shall know the things which we are to believe from the Catholic Church, through which God speaks to us.

From the Baltimore Catechism

Things don’t change whether you are Protestant or Catholic; there is the Promise of Heaven for all Christians, and the Bible clearly states that we can go to hell after becoming a believer if we commit mortal sin, and separate ourselves from God.

If someone believes that once they accept Jesus, that they cannot lose their salvation, then they are setting themselves up for a big surprise if they die in the state of Mortal sin.

I would say that the argument is “once saved always saved”, either it is true, or it isn’t true.

I personally think that the promise of salvation can never be taken away, since Christ died to make it so, it is a gift. But we can refuse that gift by committing mortal sin. But if we repent and confess our sins, that promise is still available for us and we will go to heaven, but if we don’t repent and die while in the state of mortal sin then we risk hell.

For me, the purpose of being Cathlolic is for the intimacy with Jesus Christ present in the Eucharist. All the salvation stuff is just way too much for me to ponder as there are a variety of ways to gain salvation but it only takes one deliberate action on my part to throw it all away.

Catholicism is the only religion which allows me to transcend time to join in the sacrifice at the cross through the Eucharist, bringing me into the presence of Christ. Just that small taste of Him creates a longing in me for my future…that’s where I want to be so I guard my thoughts and actions closely so as not to jeopardize it.

Funny thing is even when I was Baptist I had always thought salvation was more along the lines of what the Catholic Church believed. It wasn’t until I started looking into converting a couple years back that I realized my former Baptist theology on salvation was not something I could go along with…

Firstly, the purpose of being Catholic is to know God, to love God, and to serve God in this life and forever in the next. In fact, that’s the purpose of being human, and being Catholic is the means established by Christ in which we know, love, and serve God in the fullest sense.

Secondly, we do have a guarantee of being saved, through baptism. The valid Sacraments are always efficacious toward conveying Divine grace, so long as we do not place a barrier to the operation of that grace within us. This grace truly is justifying or saving grace. What I think you meant was whether we Catholics have an unconditional guarantee to heavenly bliss apart from our fidelity. The answer is no. We may always reject the grace of salvation through infidelity or word or deed, in what we do or fail to do.

We as Catholics leave the final disposition of our soul (and the souls of others) to the mercy and judgment of God. We are called to have hopeful confidence but must renounce the sin of pesumption, and instead work out our salvation in fear and trembling as did St. Paul.

See more here: Catholic vs. Protestant Soteriology

I used to put this on a business card to hand out when asked “Are you saved?”

(I got it from an apologetics source that I can no longer remember, I’m thinkin’ it might have been from a Karl Keating text) …

On the front of the card …


**“Are you saved?” The Catholic should reply: “As the Bible says, I am already saved (Rom. 8:24, Eph. 2:5–8), but I’m also being saved (1 Cor. 1:8, 2 Cor. 2:15, Phil. 2:12), and I have the hope that I will be saved (Rom. 5:9–10, 1 Cor. 3:12–15). Like the apostle Paul I am working out my salvation in fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12), with hopeful confidence in the promises of Christ (Rom. 5:2, 2 Tim. 2:11–13).” **

**On the back of the card … **

Hope for Salvation … Not Assurance of Salvation:
Mt 7:21 - not everyone saying “Lord, Lord” will inherit
Heb 10:26 - if sin after receiving truth, judgement remains
1 Cor 9:27 - buffet body, make it a slave for fear of being rejected
Rom 2:26 - will award to every man what his acts have deserved
Rom 11:22 - importance of continuing in God’s grace
Mt 24:13 - those who persevere to the end will be saved
Phil 2:12 - work to attain salvation in anxious fear
1 Cor 10:11-12 - those thinking they are secure may fall
Gal 5:4 - separated from Christ, you’ve fallen from grace
2 Tim 2:11-13 - must hold out to end to reign with Christ
Heb 6:4-6 - describes sharers in Holy Spirit who then fall away
2 Cor 5:10 - we reap what we earn according to our deeds
Rom 5:2, 8:24 - confident in the hope of attaining glory of God

Hi, Mom. It’s been a while. I see by your post number that you’ve been busy on the forum.
I still drop in, but have many other irons in the fire.
Yep, the Eucharist, the “source and summit of our faith,” has to be one of the main reasons to be Catholic, but there are so many more.
The Sacrament of Reconciliation is another biggie, and Holy Orders, Apostoliic Succession, being a mamber of the one Church founded by Christ Himself; all of these reasons are good and valid.
Besides, nobody is guaranteed salvation because God did us the honor of giving us free will. Anybody can turn his back on God at any time, so guaranteed salvation isn’t a reason to belong to any church.

… as long as you believe in Jesus you will go to heaven/purgatory.

This is correct, so long as one understand that “believes” is a continuous action of the faithful which connotes obedience in the Scriptural sense.

St. John describes “belief” as including obedience, and this is what Catholicism teach. Any sort of faith which excludes obedience to God’s will is not a faith that justifies.

John 3:36 “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God rests upon him.”

The Greek used by St. John for “does not obey” is apeiqwn
(“apeitheo”), which means “not believing” but also means “disobeys

According to the Protestant source, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament by Kittel, et. al, (abridged edition):

***apeitheo. ***This word means “to be disobedient” and is a significant term in the LXX for disobedience to God. In the NT it is used of the wilderness generation in Heb 3:18, that of the flood in 1 Pet. 3:20, all sinners in Rom. 2:8, and Gentiles in Heb 11:13; Rom. 11:30. “To believe” is the opposite in Acts 14:1-2, and unbelief is parallel.

So you can see that “to believe” so as to have eternal life necessarily omits disobedience.

John 6:54 Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen I say unto you: Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you. 55 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day.

So for me it’s the Eucharist, and if you don’t believe in the Real Presence, then here.


You and the other respondents are right; I was being quite venal with my response of “to get into Heaven.” (Mea culpa.) On the one hand, if we don’t get into Heaven, nothing else really matters; on the other hand, if we make that our sole aim, we will most likely miss out on the best parts of everything.

  • Liberian

Thank you all for the replies.
It’s interesting that many different point of views are shown here and
It will take awhile for me to digest all this. :smiley:

The idea about the card is very interesting!
I think I have to start to make some apologetic cards to give to others. :wink:

Actually, Catholics can have present assurance of salvation (1 John 5:13), in other words, we can know if we are presently in a state of grace. However, not knowing what our future actions and attitudes may be, we cannot presume that we will necessarily be ultimately saved. This does not cause anxiety–we simply remain vigilent to walking closely with Christ, maintaining an active prayer life, and availing ourselves to the sacraments for healing and strength.

Ironically, in the Protestant Calvinistic system, there can be no assurance of salvation except that which is retrospective at the end of one’s life. They admit that someone who initially has the appearances of salvation, but does not exhibit a change of life or subsequently falls into serious sin was never saved in the first place. Any assurance that is given to a new convert is misleading, since no one knows whether or not the salvation “took” unless fruit the borne consistently throughout one’s life. Some people appear to live the Christian life for years and then lapse into unbelief and sin, thus indicating that perhaps that person was never actually saved.

Only Catholic theology provides for legitimate present assurance of our salvation. Neither can guarantee ultimate salvation.

  1. What’s the purpose of being a Catholic if there’s no guarantee that we will be saved?

Protestants can potentially commit mortal sin, too, so there is no guarantee they will be saved either—whether or not they believe that is the case. However, they are at a disadvantage in their spiritual journey. Incorrect theology may lead them to become lax and complacent, thinking they are secure. If they do fall into mortal sin, reconciliation to God is more difficult, as they do not have access to the sacrament of reconciliation.

I have known OSAS types who consorted with prostitutes, got drunk and did many other things – and if you mentioned it to them, they’d say “Well, I’m saved.”

When you bring that up to more morally upright OSAS types, they’ll tell you, “Well, they obviously weren’t really saved.”

Okay, so it’s possible to think you’re saved when you really aren’t. So how can any OSAS type know they’re saved? The answer is, they can’t!

As a Catholic, I know I must work out my own salvation – I can’t sit back and coast. That puts me waaaay ahead of those who think they’re saved and aren’t. :wink: