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Joshua Hancock wrote:

Hi, guys —

I have a question about salvation. I am and have always been a Protestant. I believe in many,
if not all, the doctrines of the Church but I cannot go to the classes to join the Church because
I am in college and work.

Nevertheless, I pray the Rosary and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. I would like to go to Confession but our local priest has told me that only Catholics can go to Confession. I'm considering "following the light that God has given me".

I ask because I have the knowledge of the Church but I can't join right now.

Joshua

  { Should I be concerned, seeing I want to join the Church, but can't due to college studies and work? }

Mike replied:

Hi Joshua,

Thanks for your question.

I wouldn't worry about your situation. The Lord knows the desire you have to join the Church. Your great prayer life is a testament to this, one I wish more Catholics would follow.

Saying a small act of contrition prayer on a regular basis would be fine until you finish RCIA.
If you are unfamiliar with this prayer, this posting will help:

I would just talk to the local pastor about your situation. He can give you the best advice on how and when to start, or finish up with RCIA and come into full Communion with the Church.

Keep persevering and praying my friend!

Welcome to the family!

Mike

Eric replied:

Hi, Joshua —

It is wonderful that you believe what we believe and want to join the Church. I am not sure what your specific question is, but you do need to take instruction of some sort to receive the sacraments. If you are baptized, it may be easier for you to find a priest who will instruct you individually and be flexible with your schedule. Be persistent, I mean to say keep trying priests, don't be obnoxious, although being a little insistent might be helpful.

Joining the Church is very important, especially if God has opened your eyes to realize the Catholic Church possesses the fullness of truth and is the means God intended for salvation (both of which are true). Your priest is doing you a disservice in not allowing you to join; in fact he's going against Vatican II which says,

Basing itself upon Sacred Scripture and Tradition, it teaches that the Church, now sojourning on earth as an exile, is necessary for salvation. Christ, present to us in His Body, which is the Church, is the one Mediator and the unique way of salvation. In explicit terms He Himself affirmed the necessity of faith and baptism(124) and thereby affirmed also the necessity of the Church, for through baptism as through a door men enter the Church. Whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter or to remain in it, could not be saved.

(Lumen Gentium #14, Second Vatican Council)

Explain to this priest — or any priest who objects — that Vatican II says that you must enter the Church to be saved, because you know it was made necessary by Christ. In reality, the desire to enter suffices, if something beyond your control prevents you from entering, but this is intended to be a temporary thing, not a way of living.

If he continues to protest, tell him that while it is true that non-Catholics can be saved, they are much more likely to be saved and grow in sanctification, (and hence eternal reward), if they have access to the life-giving sacraments.

In fact, non-Catholics can only be saved if they are ignorant of the truth through no fault of their own. Finally, if he persists in protesting, tell him your conscience tells you that you must become Catholic, and Catholicism teaches you must obey the certain dictates of your conscience. It should be hard for him to argue with all of those points. If you don't succeed, find another priest.

I recommend reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Eric

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