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Expert Answer Forum

by Catherine Frakas 16 Aug 2003

Salvation QUESTION from Theresa February 27, 1999 What can you do to be sure you have eternal salvation? I am and always have been scared that when I die, I shall not go to Heaven,or Purgatory as the case may be. I go to Church,pray the rosary,go to confession etc and yet there is this gnawing fear of eternal damnation.Any help would bemost appreciated on this subject. Thanks
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius on March 5, 1999 Dear Theresa:
Please excuse my delay in responding to your question.
The short answer to your question, if we are talking about ABSOLUTE certainty of eternal salvation, is we do not know for sure, because we cannot predict the future.
The Church teaches that the determining factor on our eternal residence is determined by the state of our soul at the time of our death. If we die with the stain of unrepentant mortal sin on our souls we will be deprived of the presence of God. This is because we have deliberately decided to turn our backs on God.
But, despite this, we have the assurance of hope. God is not a God of fear. We need to not allow the evil one to bring us fear over this issue.
We can have the assurance of the hope of salvation because Jesus doesn’t lie.
Jesus tells us that if we believe in him and follow him we shall be saved. To follow him is to participate in the Sacraments (Baptism, Confirmation, Confession, and Eucharist). If we are baptized and confirmed, and we follow the precepts of the Church, believe what the church teaches, go to Mass, pray, and go to confession we can have assurance of salvation.
Actually, the fact that you are worried about it is the best evidence that you are indeed heaven bound.
Now that does not mean we should be presumptuous. We cannot presume heaven. But be a good Catholic, follow the Church, go to confession when you sin and you can have the assurance of salvation.
Please do not fear. That is not of God. Do not let fear rob you of the victory of Christ. Jesus died on the Cross for you. Believe in Him and in His Church, follow Him in love of neighbor, participate in the Sacraments and you have NOTHING to fear.
What you have described as your devotional life is exactly the life for which we can hope for.
You are okay Theresa.
Take heart and be joyous at the hope for which Jesus gives us. The Catechism states:
1820 Christian hope unfolds from the beginning of Jesus' preaching in the proclamation of the beatitudes. The beatitudes raise our hope toward heaven as the new Promised Land; they trace the path that leads through the trials that await the disciples of Jesus. But through the merits of Jesus Christ and of his Passion, God keeps us in the hope that does not disappoint. Hope is the sure and steadfast anchor of the soul . . . that enters . . . where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf. Hope is also a weapon that protects us in the struggle of salvation: Let us . . . put on the breastplate of faith and charity, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. It affords us joy even under trial: Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation. Hope is expressed and nourished in prayer, especially in the Our Father, the summary of everything that hope leads us to desire. 1821 We can therefore hope in the glory of heaven promised by God to those who love him and do his will. In every circumstance, each one of us should hope, with the grace of God, to persevere to the end and to obtain the joy of heaven, as God's eternal reward for the good works accomplished with the grace of Christ. In hope, the Church prays for all men to be saved. She longs to be united with Christ, her Bridegroom, in the glory of heaven:
Hope, O my soul, hope. You know neither the day nor the hour. Watch carefully, for everything passes quickly, even though your impatience makes doubtful what is certain, and turns a very short time into a long one. Dream that the more you struggle, the more you prove the love that you bear your God, and the more you will rejoice one day with your Beloved, in a happiness and rapture that can never end.
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