This is the hard part for Protestants. They think that they grow in holiness through obedience to the Commandments and works. They do not teach, for the most part, the growth of personal holiness. And, the place to work out this holiness is the Catholic Church.
One must be orthodox to even begin the road to holiness. This has been repeated in many of the saints in the perfection series.
How we judge holiness? Through the fruits of the Spirit and good works is holiness seen.
If someone is contracepting, they are not yet on the road to holiness. If someone is committing fornication, they are not on the road to holiness. If someone is in an irregular marriage, one is not on the road of holiness. One is stuck in suffering, waiting and relying on the mercy of God. But, we all do this to some extent. If someone is greedy, purification is necessary. Hence, the idea of purgatory, which underscores the point that only the perfect see God. We must all be sanctified, not merely justified.
Only the Church can sanctify through the sacraments. Can and does God give graces to individuals? Of course, but they cannot be perfect without the Church.
If a Protestant is honest with one's self, that person will see areas in one's life not in keeping with the Scriptures.
Do people make money in cash and not report it as taxes? Do people gossip? Does someone not tithe? Does someone not attend Sunday services? The same examination of conscience which applied to Catholics applies to all Christians.
I know that God gives graces where He will, but to merit heaven, a Protestant is reliant on the merits of the Catholic Church and not his own merits. He cannot merit anything being in heresy.
This is what is meant by the phrase that all men and woman are saved through the merits of the Catholic Church, if they are baptized Christians.
This is the mercy of God, but it is very hard, or it must be, for a Protestant to remain outside of mortal sin without the grace. of the sacraments. Also, one of the main points, is that the CCC reminds all of us that our duty is to have a personal relationship with Christ, which is absolutely necessary for all Christians-the adult appropriation of our baptismal faith.
2558 "Great is the mystery of the faith!" The Church professes this mystery in the Apostles' Creed (Part One) and celebrates it in the sacramental liturgy (Part Two), so that the life of the faithful may be conformed to Christ in the Holy Spirit to the glory of God the Father (Part Three). This mystery, then, requires that the faithful believe in it, that they celebrate it, and that they live from it in a vital and personal relationship with the living and true God. This relationship is prayer.
One of the saddest parts of some Protestant denominations is the belief that the Church is the anti-Christ; that it is evil. Here is the CCC on the nature of the Church as holy.
THE CHURCH IS HOLY
823 "The Church . . . is held, as a matter of faith, to be unfailingly holy. This is because Christ, the Son of God, who with the Father and the Spirit is hailed as 'alone holy,' loved the Church as his Bride, giving himself up for her so as to sanctify her; he joined her to himself as his body and endowed her with the gift of the Holy Spirit for the glory of God."289 The Church, then, is "the holy People of God,"290 and her members are called "saints."291
824 United with Christ, the Church is sanctified by him; through him and with him she becomes sanctifying. "All the activities of the Church are directed, as toward their end, to the sanctification of men in Christ and the glorification of God."292 It is in the Church that "the fullness of the means of salvation"293 has been deposited. It is in her that "by the grace of God we acquire holiness."294
825 "The Church on earth is endowed already with a sanctity that is real though imperfect."295 In her members perfect holiness is something yet to be acquired: "Strengthened by so many and such great means of salvation, all the faithful, whatever their condition or state - though each in his own way - are called by the Lord to that perfection of sanctity by which the Father himself is perfect."296
826 Charity is the soul of the holiness to which all are called: it "governs, shapes, and perfects all the means of sanctification."297
- If the Church was a body composed of different members, it couldn't lack the noblest of all; it must have a Heart, and a Heart BURNING WITH LOVE. And I realized that this love alone was the true motive force which enabled the other members of the Church to act; if it ceased to function, the Apostles would forget to preach the gospel, the Martyrs would refuse to shed their blood. LOVE, IN FACT, IS THE VOCATION WHICH INCLUDES ALL OTHERS; IT'S A UNIVERSE OF ITS OWN, COMPRISING ALL TIME AND SPACE - IT'S ETERNAL! 298
827 "Christ, 'holy, innocent, and undefiled,' knew nothing of sin, but came only to expiate the sins of the people. The Church, however, clasping sinners to her bosom, at once holy and always in need of purification, follows constantly the path of penance and renewal."299 All members of the Church, including her ministers, must acknowledge that they are sinners.300 In everyone, the weeds of sin will still be mixed with the good wheat of the Gospel until the end of time.301 Hence the Church gathers sinners already caught up in Christ's salvation but still on the way to holiness:
- The Church is therefore holy, though having sinners in her midst, because she herself has no other life but the life of grace. If they live her life, her members are sanctified; if they move away from her life, they fall into sins and disorders that prevent the radiation of her sanctity. This is why she suffers and does penance for those offenses, of which she has the power to free her children through the blood of Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit.30
"Fully incorporated into the society of the Church are those who, possessing the Spirit of Christ, accept all the means of salvation given to the Church together with her entire organization, and who - by the bonds constituted by the profession of faith, the sacraments, ecclesiastical government, and communion - are joined in the visible structure of the Church of Christ, who rules her through the Supreme Pontiff and the bishops. Even though incorporated into the Church, one who does not however persevere in charity is not saved. He remains indeed in the bosom of the Church, but 'in body' not 'in heart.'"321
838 "The Church knows that she is joined in many ways to the baptized who are honored by the name of Christian, but do not profess the Catholic faith in its entirety or have not preserved unity or communion under the successor of Peter."322 Those "who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in a certain, although imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church."323 With the Orthodox Churches, this communion is so profound "that it lacks little to attain the fullness that would permit a common celebration of the Lord's Eucharist."324