This all goes back to what love is defined as:
To will the good of another, for their own good.
This means that Love is NOT a feeling (I direct you to my previous blog, “More than a Feeling”) but a choice made. Love cannot exist without free will. If we HAD to love God, or God only created those he knew would love him, that’s not free will, and therefore not love. And with the ability to choose “yes” there is also the ability to choose “no.”
Heaven is the ultimate end and fulfillment of the deepest human longings, the state of supreme, definitive happiness.”(CCC 1024)
And the “fire” of Hell everybody always talks about is actually a metaphor for what I’ve just written about. As an old Theology teacher put it, “The fire of Hell is God’s Love burning for you.” As in, if you’re in Hell, you’re there because the one thing you didn’t want to be around was God and God’s Love. And the only reason you’re in Hell, away from his Love, is because you chose to be and he let you. You are away from God because he loved you enough to let you be.
(Note: this is why the Catholic Church does not say they know who is in Hell. The Catholic Church DOES proclaim some as Saints (those who are definitely in Heaven) due to several miracles being associated with them – miracles that could only be possible if that person was in the presence of God.)
Onto the next part: Who Goes to Heaven and Hell?
And let me first start off by saying that if any of my other Christian friends (or friends of another religion that have a “hell”) haven’t already noticed, the two approaches of
· Convert, or you’re going to Hell
· You’re going to Hell anyway. Just fyi.
are not effective methods of evangelization, and really aren’t even evangelizing at all. (I’m looking at you, guys who stormed the UC Students for Life Group last week.)
So first of all, we see this heading: “Outside the Church there is no salvation”.
OK NOW WAIT – Don’t close the book here (everybody seems to close the book here.)
The next paragraph states the following:
Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it. (CCC 846)
This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church:
Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience - those too may achieve eternal salvation. (CCC 847)
Although in ways known to himself God can lead those who, through no fault of their own, are ignorant of the Gospel, to that faith without which it is impossible to please him, the Church still has the obligation and also the sacred right to evangelize all men. (CCC 848)
Let us all remember that God is Love, and Christ is Love incarnate. God is the shepherd of his flock, and a merciful caretaker. Let us be mindful of this as we evangelize others – we must evangelize with a spirit of Joy, rejoicing that Love is Lord of Heaven and Earth, and not evangelize out of a spirit of fear and despair.