Bare Minimum for Salvation

Comment: As I read the questions addressed on this website I understand that I indeed can/must “work” my way to heaven and Christ did not pay the whole price for my sin. And I am reminded of people all around us like my own mother (now deceased) who could read but there is no way on this earth my dear uneducated uncomplicated mother could have gotten to heaven in the Catholic church. She could not have understood all this..your info on this site sounds like “hopelessness” for a mere human being….am at a loss for words-satan couldn’t defeat me today but I daresay your website has come near to doing just that.
Response: I am sorry you felt defeated after reading my website. But let me assure you, you have misunderstood. The Catholic Faith does not teach that we must work our way to Heaven. That is what some who are misinformed say we teach. But they are wrong.

The minimum requirements for salvation in the Catholic Church are very easy and full of mercy and grace with the safety net of Confession. They are called the Precepts of the Catholic Church. CCC


2041 The precepts of the Church are set in the context of a moral life bound to and nourished by liturgical life. The obligatory character of these positive laws decreed by the pastoral authorities is meant to guarantee to the faithful the indispensable minimum in the spirit of prayer and moral effort, in the growth in love of God and neighbor:

2042 The first precept (”You shall attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation.”) requires the faithful to participate in the Eucharistic celebration when the Christian community gathers together on the day commemorating the Resurrection of the Lord.[82]

The second precept (”You shall confess your sins at least once a year.”) ensures preparation for the Eucharist by the reception of the sacrament of reconciliation, which continues Baptism’s work of conversion and forgiveness.[83]

The third precept (”You shall humbly receive your Creator in Holy Communion at least during the Easter season.”) guarantees as a minimum the reception of the Lord’s Body and Blood in connection with the Paschal feasts, the origin and center of the Christian liturgy.[84]

2043 The fourth precept (”You shall keep holy the holy days of obligation.”) completes the Sunday observance by participation in the principal liturgical feasts which honor the mysteries of the Lord, the Virgin Mary, and the saints.[85]

The fifth precept (”You shall observe the prescribed days of fasting and abstinence.”) ensures the times of ascesis (exertion/eercise) and penance which prepare us for the liturgical feasts; they help us acquire mastery over our instincts and freedom of heart.[86]

The faithful also have the duty of providing for the material needs of the Church, each according to his abilities

The hardest one is to actually get to Mass each Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation. The good works required of us, (“Faith without works is dead” James 2) help in our purification and reparation for our sin. But you don’t have to understand all the theology to follow the precepts and do good works. It is really pretty easy. We are not saved by how much theology we know but by our Obedience of Faith as St. Paul opens and closes Romans. This website is to explain Catholic theology to those who are interested. But it is not necessary to be saved.

Our Heavenly Father is full of mercy and desires that every single person would come to Heaven with HIM.


7 Responses to Bare Minimum for Salvation

  1. I’m so going to hell. But then, i’ll be there with all the fun people. Darwin. Einstein. Sexually promiscuous women. So it’s no worry.

  2. Robert says:


    One of the most lamentable turns in modern philosophy is the separation of happiness and virtue. Aristotle concludes that the end of all human action is happiness (well-being or doing well, eudaimonia), and that the happy life is the virtuous life, for virtue (the Greek “arête” which is translated as virtue, literally means “excellence”) is the doing-well, the excellence of the human person.

    By the time one gets to Kant, the best one gets is that the virtuous life makes one *worthy* of happiness, but not that it actually is what makes one happy. Josef Pieper rightly points out, I think, that this makes us tend to think of what is virtuous as what is difficult, what is hard, what is unpleasant. By default then the virtuous life seems to be a miserable and unhappy life.

    But Aristotle says something very insightful regarding virtue and vice. The excellent man measured by *what* gives him pleasure and causes him pain. The virtuous life is a life of action, and action itself is inseparable from pleasure. The question isn’t whether pleasure is part of the virtuous life, but in what actions we ought to take pleasure. Training in the virtuous life is an education (by habituation) in virtue, because it makes us feel pleasure in the things in which we ought to take pleasure (the virtues) and pain in what we ought to feel pain (the vices).

    This is the background, and the beginnings of a solution, for the objection which is often leveled against Christianity—that one must choose between virtue and goodness on the one hand, and pleasure and happiness on the other hand. Or as that pop icon Billy Joel once put it, that he’d rather “laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints.” As you put it, that all the fun people are in hell. Such a charge is simply false.

    Pieper’s discussion transcends Aristotle’s, though, because Aristotle never dreamed of grace. The virtue of charity (love) is an extraordinary virtue, and it makes a prime counter-point to the Kantian view of duty. An act is worthy or good inasmuch as it is filled with charity. But charity makes all burdens light and sweet. Virtue, therefore, does not essentially consist in what is hard. Indeed, the reverse is true, for charity makes all things exceedingly sweet to bear. This is the truth of which Jesus spoke when He said “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” (Matthew 11:28-30).

    Pieper says, “And what was this? That virtue makes it possible for us… to master our inclinations? No. That is what Kant would have said, and we all might be ready to agree. What Thomas says, instead, is that virtue perfects us so that we can follow our natural inclination in the right way. Yes, the highest realizations of moral goodness are known to be such precisely in this: that they take place effortlessly because it is of their essence to arise from love” (Pieper’s “Leisure, the Basis of Culture” pages 18-19). [“Thomas” refers to St. Thomas Aquinas, an Aristotelian Christian philosopher from the Middle Ages.]

    This is why, of course, Mother Teresa is a great saint. It was a joy for her to care for the poor. Her cross was her joy.

    So given this background I just want to offer to you this proposal. Pope Benedict has commented, I think rightly, that Christianity seeks to propose, not to impose. So I wish to propose this to you: the Christian life is, despite first appearances, a life of the deepest joy and peace. It is the life which the human heart longs for, the happiness which we seek but which we don’t recognize. I know it sounds ridiculous, and it did to me as well for a long while.

    Don’t worry, I won’t waste your time telling you that you are going to hell. Many of my evangelical Protestant brothers are well-intentioned but wrong in the way they go about presenting the Christian faith. I’m not going to give you a “Romans Road” map to salvation (you’ve experienced these, I’m sure). No, the Son did not come into the world to condemn the world (as we believe from John 3:17) but to show us the way to a radically human way of life.

    I think the rest or peace, and the joy which Jesus promises to His followers address a fundamental human longing which we cannot find in finite things (no matter how good they are) in this world. One of my favorite philosophers, the ancient atheist Epicurus (you’d love his disparagement of superstition…), I think would say as much. His understanding of the structure of human desire is a decisive counter-point to base hedonism (I can discuss this, and Stoicism as well, with you if you wish). This is a man who thinks that pleasure is the end of human action, and yet eschews hedonism for a simple life free from great pleasures. (Especially sexual intercourse. It is a libel against Christianity that we hate sex. Only pagans can really hate sex, and the substance of what he and his follower Lucretius say against sex is far worse, I think, than even St. Augustine’s worst comments… but I digress.)

    So what have I proposed? Again, that the Christian life rightly understood is the happy life which every human heart longs for, and that the evidence of the saints is that they were filled with the joy and peace which Jesus promised. Trials, suffering and death—neither you nor I can escape these. But the saints bore them with great love, and found in them an unparalled sweetness and great spiritual consolation. You don’t have to look far, and such saints have existed in every day and age—St. Francis of Assisi, St. “Padre” Pio, Mother Teresa and many many more.

    There is a way to the happy life, it is tried and true, our Lord offered it to us, and the saints are brilliant examples to us. The other misconception about Christianity is that sainthood is reserved to the few. But again, this is not true. The call to holiness (great love, great virtue) is for every person. You are called to it too.

    The happiest people I know are not worldly people, but people devoted to Jesus. And the happiest people I know are probably the vowed religious—although they have given up everything for Christ they have an incredible joy and an unshakable peace.

    God bless,

  3. Dr. Eric says:

    Dear Teenaged Knowitall,

    You obviously have no grasp how absolutely horrible Hell actually is. There is no fun in Hell. There is no pleasure in Hell. There is only suicidal despair. There is terror beyond belief. There is maddening pain. It is beyond any Hollywood torture porn or horror director’s worst nightmare.

    I will pray for you. You obviously have some sort of chip on your shoulder.

  4. Dear Senior knowitall,
    You’ve just described hell to me, and yet, you have no more knowledge of heave and hell than I, or anyone else does. You’ve just made it up. You’re not privy to information that i’m not.
    Don’t pray for me, i’m not Christian, I do not believe the myths. And for all intents and purposes, your God is a disgustingly evil entity.

  5. Dr. Eric says:

    How can you judge my God as evil if you don’t believe in moral absolutes?

    How do you know that I haven’t seen Heaven or Hell?

    If you don’t believe in “myths” why did you even bother logging onto this site? Why did you even post here?

  6. Dr. Eric says:

    Those who think they know it all are incredibly annoying to those of us who do! ;-P

  7. aboriente says:

    lol Dr. Eric…

    Don’t get too worked up… those guys are also annoying to those of us who know we don’t know much at all. ;)

    I find it funny that he is able to judge an entity he has no familiarity with, and claims to have no desire to try to contemplate. Someone said a long time ago, we are all searching for God… whether we know it or not. I think you should pray for his finding God despite his desire that we don’t.

    I’ll join my poor prayers to that intention as well.

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