Posted by: Fr Chris | October 18, 2022

Ask A Priest Questions: Saved? Mary and sin? Lazarus and the Rich Man?

These are some of the anonymous questions passed to me at the high school and college groups.

What’s the best way to respond to a Protestant who asks, “Are you saved?”

Quote Saint Paul: I am working out my salvation in fear and trembling (Philippians 2). Salvation is not a one-time decision; in fact, some Evangelicals have even taken the deplorable attitude that “Because ‘I am saved’ I can therefore do whatever I want and still get to heaven.” That is most definitely not a Christian belief and certainly is unbiblical. A Catholic was saved (baptism), is being saved  (working with the Holy Spirit for the transformation of my soul), and hopes to be saved by persevering to the end. The comment may then be made to us that no sin can separate us from Christ, so why do we think we have to still work at it? But Saint John himself pointed out the dangers of mortal sin (1 John 5:16-17). Jesus willingly ascended the Cross, yes, but He does not spare us from suffering and struggle. The Holy Spirit comes to us to help us conquer sin and so get to heaven, as we embrace our cross here on earth. Paul himself was still working at his spiritual life. So too should we, until the last moment of our lives on earth.

Did Mary ever commit a venial sin? 

No. Our Blessed Lady continued to live her life in union with God. She is the New Eve, the Mother who exemplifies what the Old Eve was supposed to do. We were made to live in God’s Presence, and to be with Him always. The failure of Adam and Eve to do so introduced sin, and therefore death, into the human race. While Our Lady did die, and then was assumed into heaven body and soul, she did not sin.

In the story of Lazarus and the Rich Man, did the Rich Man go to Hell or Purgatory (Luke 16)?

Jesus was not giving a theological treatise on Hell and Purgatory. He was doing two things. First, he was warning the rich of their fate if they ignored the needs of the poor and the teachings of the Law and the warnings of the prophets regarding eternal life. Second, and more clearly, he was warning that Israel would reject him, even though he would rise from the dead in fulfillment of the Prophets. In fact, in the story the rich man knows the name of Lazarus, yet he treated a man whose name he knew abominably by leaving him starving and sick at the gate. Only the dogs come out well in this parable! Jesus is pointing out hell and heaven, damnation or salvation. But some have thought that the fact that the rich man is worried about the salvation of his family members shows compassion, and therefore the man must have been in purgatory. But hell excludes God’s supernatural love, not the affection that people may still hold onto. After all, the rich man longs desperately for a drop of water on his tongue. And Abraham points out that there is a chasm between heaven and the flames tormenting the rich man (verses 25-26). Those in purgatory go to heaven; those in hell are stuck there. For more on this, check out Jimmy Akin’s essay at:

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