How To Go To Heaven

Questions and Answers on Catholic Salvation Theology

What must I do to have eternal life?
The two great commandments are love God above all else, and love your neighbor as yourself. Whoever fulfills these commandments is in a state of grace, and all who die in a state of grace will have eternal life in Heaven. The state of grace is the state of loving God and neighbor.

Actual mortal sin is incompatible with the love of God and neighbor, and so it is incompatible with the state of grace. Whosoever dies unrepentant from actual mortal sin, dies without the state of grace and will have eternal punishment in Hell. No one is sent to Hell, other than persons who are unrepentant from actual mortal sin.

Can unbaptized believers be saved, such as Jews and Muslims?
Yes. If they love God and neighbor, they receive a baptism of desire. An act of love is sufficient for the adult to obtain sanctifying grace and to supply the lack of baptism.

Can persons who commit actual mortal sin be saved if they, as non-Catholics, do not have access to the Sacrament of Confession?
Yes. If they repent from their mortal sins with perfect contrition, they are forgiven and they return to the state of grace.

Can an adult with sufficient accurate knowledge of Catholicism still be saved if he does not convert?
Yes. If his failure to convert is not an actual mortal sin (a grave sin committed with full knowledge of its grave immorality and full deliberation), and if he loves God and neighbor.

Can an atheist or agnostic be saved?
Yes. Only those who die in a state of loving God and neighbor are saved. However, the true selfless love of neighbor always includes, at least implicitly, the love of God. So an atheist or agnostic who loves his neighbor, in full cooperation with grace, thereby obtains an implicit baptism of desire and the state of grace. Some atheists and agnostics love God implicitly by loving their neighbor.

Can an atheist or agnostic be saved after actual mortal sin?
Yes. Without the Sacrament of Confession and without belief in God, a person can still repent with perfect contrition by sorrow for sin out of love of neighbor. True sorrow for sin out of love of neighbor always includes, at least implicitly, true sorrow for sin out of love of God. So an atheist or agnostic can return to the state of grace by implicit perfect contrition.

Can an unbaptized person obtain an implicit baptism of desire by perfect contrition?
Yes. Since implicit perfect contrition is based on the love of neighbor, a person who has never before entered the state of grace can receive an implicit baptism of desire by this type of contrition. The state of grace is the state of loving God and neighbor, and whosoever truly loves his neighbor also loves God, even if that love is implicit.

Who goes to Hell?
All those persons and only those persons who die unrepentant from one or more actual mortal sins are sent to eternal punishment in Hell.

Who goes to Heaven?
All those persons and only those persons who die in a state of loving God and neighbor, even if their love of God is only implicit, are sent to eternal life in Heaven.

Is faith required for salvation?
The state of grace always includes all three infused theological virtues: love, faith, hope. The state of grace is absolutely required for salvation. So all three virtues are required for salvation. A Christian who commits an actual mortal sin loses the virtues of love and hope, but faith may remain (as long as the mortal sin was not against faith). So faith alone does not save. However, all who have the infused virtue of love necessarily also have the virtues of faith and hope, so love saves.

What percentage of humanity will be saved?
A small minority of human persons go directly to Heaven when they die. A good majority of human persons will have eternal life in Heaven, but suffer much in Purgatory first. A sizeable minority of human persons die unrepentant from actual mortal sin and will have eternal punishment in Hell.

Are Satan and the devils in charge of Hell?
Not at all. Hell is analogous to a prison, and the fallen angels are all prisoners there, not wardens or guards.

Do Satan and the devils torture the souls in Hell?
Not directly. But it is torturous to have devils as fellow prisoners in Hell. One of the joys of Heaven is the company of holy angels. One of the sufferings of Hell is the company of devils.

Do the souls in Hell blaspheme God and commit other grave sins continually?
No. The prevenient grace of God prevents all the souls and devils in Hell from ever committing any sin again. However, all the denizens of Hell are forever in a state of unrepented actual mortal sin, which is figuratively a state of blasphemy. They are forever without the state of grace.

Do the souls in Purgatory sin at all there?
No. The prevenient grace of God prevents all the souls in Purgatory from committing any sin.

What is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit?
Called the eternal sin, blasphemy against the Spirit is nothing other than final impenitence: dying unrepentant from actual mortal sin. Jesus says it is the only unforgivable sin because only those who die unrepentant from actual mortal sin are sent to Hell.

Does limbo as a place of eternal natural happiness exist?
No. Human persons are created in the image of God, and so we cannot have any true form of happiness without the state of grace, which is the indwelling of the Trinity. Apart from God, human persons cannot have happiness, not even on a merely natural level. There are only two final destinations, Heaven and Hell. There is no third final destination.

What is the limbo of Hell?
The limbo (meaning “fringe”) of Hell is the section of Hell where those who die in a state of “original sin alone” are sent. It is a place of eternal punishment, not natural happiness.

Who dies a state of “original sin alone”?
In my opinion, these persons are adults who die without repentance from the actual mortal sin of omission of never having found sanctifying grace in this life, despite ample opportunity. They are sent to the limbo of Hell, where they will have eternal punishment (not natural happiness). But they are punished less than the other denizens of Hell.

Do prenatals, infants, and little children, who die without formal baptism, obtain eternal life in Heaven?
Yes. In my opinion, these persons are given sanctifying grace, prior to death. Their suffering in dying so young unites them to Christ suffering on the Cross, and from the Cross He grants to them the state of grace, by a baptism of blood, prior to death. So they will have eternal life in Heaven. They are not sent to the limbo of Hell, as some modern-day Pharisees claim.

What is the limbo of the Fathers?
It is the limbo of Purgatory, an upper level of Purgatory where there is no suffering other than the as yet unfulfilled desire to enter Heaven.

Who is sent to the limbo of the Fathers?
Those souls who died in a state of grace prior to the salvific death of Christ on the Cross were sent to the limbo of Purgatory, after they suffered in Purgatory if necessary, to await salvation from Christ.

In my opinion, prenatals, infants, and little children who die without formal baptism, are sent first to the limbo of Purgatory, to receive the spiritual development and knowledge of Christ that they were denied in this life. Thereafter, they enter Heaven.

What happens to persons who die unrepentant from many venial sins, but no mortal sins?
They are sent to Purgatory, to be punished for their sins, and thereafter they enter Heaven. Whosoever teaches that failure to repent from venial sin results in eternal punishment is guilty of teaching heresy. Only unrepented actual mortal sin condemns a soul to Hell.

What will happen to Catholics who teach many grave errors on matters of faith, morals, and salvation?
Teachers will have the stricter judgment.

For more on this topic, see my brief booklet:
Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, and Limbo
or my lengthy book:
Forgiveness and Salvation for Everyone

by
Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and
translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

Please take a look at this list of my books and booklets, and see if any topic interests you.

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