In this season of joy, some profound insights into the value of suffering


Saint Pope John Paul II
– All of those who suffer, especially the innocent, may feel themselves called to participate in the work of redemption, carried out through the cross
– The suffering of the innocent is especially valuable in the eyes of the Lord
– Even when the darkness is deepest, faith points to a trusting acknowledgment: ‘I know that you can do all things’

Sacred Scripture
– Is it not logical that we accept suffering?
– Taking up the cross is the obligation of whoever follows Jesus
– The sufferings of Christ are a cause of rejoicing
– The future glory surpasses all suffering

Saint Thomas Aquinas
– Death and all consequent bodily defects are punishments of original sin

Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church
– Original sin subjected all human nature to suffering
– Sufferings: a means of cooperating with God
– Means of purification and of salvation
– From the greatest of all moral evils God has brought forth the greatest of all goods

Catechism of the Catholic Church
– A new meaning for suffering – participation in the saving work of Jesus
– Makes a person more mature, helping to discern what is not essential

Saint John Chrysostom
– The remedy against pride; the power of God in weak men

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This Week’s Ask Alice: “Do you need to be Catholic to go to Heaven?”

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She’ll answer as many questions as possible,
right here, every Thursday.

Email responses will also be provided, as time permits.

Steven writes: Do you have to be Catholic to go to Heaven? I’m sure you get this question all of the time. Whether your answer is yes or no, I want to know where in specific that you get your info. I’m guessing it is from the Bible, so please give the verse or verses. Thanks.

Alice answers: Heaven is open to Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims, the unchurched, i.e., to all God’s children, through Christ’s death on the cross. Our loving Father, who created us, desires that all his children will spend eternity with him in Heaven.

“God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that whoever believes in him may not die but may have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

Nowhere in the Bible does it say that a person must be a Catholic to enter Heaven. However, there are Scripture verses in which Jesus himself, told us that baptism is necessary for salvation.

“Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit.”   (John 3:5)

“Go into the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:15-5)

Since ours is the one, true Church founded by Jesus Christ, we believe that baptized Catholics will enter the kingdom of Heaven.

Can a person ever enter Heaven without baptism? The Catholic Church recognizes a baptism of “blood,” for martyrs who die for their faith. If a person has never been taught about Jesus, or repents at the hour of his/her death, then we must trust in God’s infinite mercy for their salvation. Remember that our Lord forgave the repentant thief, who was hanged beside him on the cross.

“He then said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. And Jesus replied, ‘I assure you: this day you shall be with me in in paradise.’ ”
(Luke 23:42-43)

In Christ’s Love,


Doug Lawrence adds: God is sovereign, all powerful, and he can “save” anyone he cares to save … for any reason or for none at all. Yet, anyone that God chooses to invite into Heaven will be saved only by application of the grace that Jesus obtained for us on the cross, at Calvary.

Jesus Christ appointed the Catholic Church as the primary earthly distributor of his saving grace, so that makes the Catholic Church (warts and all) the “ordinary” means of all human salvation, in Christ.

Is it possible for God to “save” a soul without resorting to the good offices, sacraments and devotions of the Catholic Church? Certainly!

Is it very likely?
No one but God really knows, for sure!
So, why take that chance?

One thing is fairly certain:

God is love, and love is just another word for charity. Anyone who appears before the judgment seat of Jesus Christ with at least a modicum of charity remaining in his/her soul, is not likely to experience eternal damnation.

Catholic … or not.

Click here to see all of Alice’s other columns

Kreeft: The theme of spiritual warfare is never absent in scripture, and never absent in the life and writings of a single saint. But it is never present in the religious education of any of my “Catholic” students at Boston College.

But is not God a lover rather than a warrior?

No, God is a lover who is a warrior. The question fails to understand what love is, what the love that God is, is. Love is at war with hate, betrayal, selfishness, and all love’s enemies. Love fights. Ask any parent. Yuppie-love, like puppy-love, may be merely “compassion” (the fashionable word today), but father-love and mother-love are war.

In fact, every page of the Bible bristles with spears, from Genesis 3 through Revelation 20. The road from Paradise Lost to Paradise Regained is soaked in blood. At the very center of the story is a cross, a symbol of conflict if there ever was one. The theme of spiritual warfare is never absent in scripture, and never absent in the life and writings of a single saint. But it is never present in the religious education of any of my “Catholic” students at Boston College. Whenever I speak of it, they are stunned and silent, as if they have suddenly entered another world. They have.

They have gone past the warm fuzzies, the fur coats of psychology-disguised-as-religion, into a world where they meet Christ the King, not Christ the Kitten.

Welcome back from the moon, kids.

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Jesus, God Man

Jesus working with Saint Joseph

In the very first chapter of his Gospel, the apostle John tells us nearly everything we need to know about Jesus, the God Man.

To avoid confusion: We are speaking here primarily of the Apostle John, not John the Baptist. The Baptist was a prophet and the cousin of Jesus, six months his senior. King Herod beheaded John the Baptist a short time after the baptism of our Lord.

The Baptist is a primary figure in the first chapter of the Gospel of John, so people often get the two mixed up. The Apostle John, known as “the disciple whom Jesus loved”, became the last of the Apostles, the sole survivor, elder “churchman” and the world’s only remaining eyewitness for Christ.

He spoke of his closest friend, a marvelous, Spirit-filled man who was God Himself, come down from heaven in the flesh, to save mankind: Jesus, the Lamb, the risen Christ. John spoke also of their mother, Mary. After all, it was Jesus Himself, who, moments before He died, entrusted His mother to John’s care (and empowered His mother to care for all of us.)

John 19:25 – 27  Now there stood by the cross of Jesus, his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalen. When Jesus therefore had seen his mother and the disciple standing whom he loved, he saith to his mother: Woman, behold thy son. After that, he saith to the disciple: Behold thy mother. And from that hour, the disciple took her to his own.

Many who heard him believed. John was powerful in the Holy Spirit.

The Romans didn’t like what he preached, so they tried to kill him by boiling him in oil, but John emerged from the ordeal unharmed. Not willing to risk the public embarrassment of another failed execution, they sent him into exile on the Aegean island of Patmos. From his meager base there, John worked tirelessly to share his unique, personal knowledge of Jesus with the budding Church.

One of the original Twelve (the only one with the courage to stand at the foot of the cross) and a Bishop personally ordained by Jesus, John’s authority and credentials were unquestionable. Those who were able would come to visit from all over the known world. Wouldn’t you?

The Epistles of St. Ignatius tell us much about what John’s friend and disciple, St. Polycarp, learned at John’s side. The Church (then, already known as “Catholic”) benefited immensely from these living links with the last Apostle.

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