Monday, June 29, 2009
I'm a little nervous. Sister St. Aloysius will soon be on her way to her summer think tank. Last year we had the help of Sister Nicholas. Lovable as she was, every day was rather like Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. I'll be needing help, that is certain. And Sister Nicholas was a good cook. She made that pickle soup. I could go for some of that.
We shall see. Meanwhile, Sister St. Aloysius has immersed herself in information about the supercollider, which is supposed to find the "God particle" or some such nonsense. She has explained it to me several times and it gives me a physics haircut (as it zooms right over my head). She even gave me Stephen Hawkings' new book, "An Even Briefer History of Time", which is his own personal version of his other book "A Brief History of Time". This one is "A Brief History of Time" for dummies.
I'm extra dumb. I can't get my brain around that one either. I get the gist of it, barely, and then I get really tired.
Which brings me to today's question from a reader:
Hi Sister, I love your blog; its both informative and witty. I guess my question goes along with this theme of different sects... not quite sure. Anyways, I was wondering how the Catholic church feels about those who aren't IN the Catholic Church. I mean I really don't want to believe that some of my best friends who are Muslim, Jewish, and Methodist have to do "hard time" in the "furnace." I remember something like "baptism by acts" or something where they had a second chance. Do they just do more time in purgatory? Thanks
I don't know. Yes, I do.
Let's iron out a thing or two. No one does 'hard time' in the furnaces of Hell. "Hard Time" indicates that the time you spend in the pokey is really tough and long, but you'll be getting out. Once you end up in Hell, that's that. There is no "hard time", there is only "eternity". I only use quotation marks to be cute.
So the basic premise here is that only Catholics can go to heaven. That's because Jesus said you can only get to heaven through Him and the only True way to Him is through the Catholic church.
But there are loopholes. First of all, we don't know the mind of God. God might feel that your Baptist friend should be in heaven. We also don't know what any Jewish person, Muslim or Methodist may be thinking right before he or she kicks the bucket. They might think, "What was I thinking! I should have been Catholic!" As long as you're still able to think that, God will not turn His back on you.
So the answer to your question is: only Catholics can go to heaven, BUT we imagine God will let in whoever He wants, so we don't get to judge who got in and who didn't or who will or won't get there.
Does that help?
I know. It's as hard to understand as "An Even Briefer History of Time". Maybe that supercollider will work and we'll know the answer.
That was joke. The answer is not in the supercollider.
The other loophole, which I've touched on here, is the Baptism of Desire. That basically means that you really want to be Catholic, but you weren't able to actually be baptized. For example, you were on your way to be baptized when the Martians attacked, and you huddled together with the rest of your neighbors over at the Lutheran Church and then you were all vaporized. Or you were on a desert island or lost at sea or whatever.
There is also what is known as a Baptism of Blood. That means you died the death of a martyr for Christ. All martyrs for Christ go straight to Heaven, do not pass go, do not collect $200 even if they are from some lesser faith. Excuse me. I meant to say, even if they are separated brethren.
Which brings me to one final point in the 'be Catholic and at least you won't have to worry about it' discussion we've just had. Have you heard the story of St. Maximilian Kolbe. One of my favorite saints! Read about him here.
Why would he have done such a heroic thing for a bunch of guys who were just going to go burn in Hell for being the wrong religion? Of course, he would have been trying to administer the faith to them. I just really doubt that he had any takers. He understood that we simply don't decide. We're not the deciders here.
He did it because we must love everyone as Jesus did. What a guy!