"Faith is necessary for salvation. The Lord Himself affirms: "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned." (Mk. 16:16).

We often hear people say that it does not matter what we believe, but rather what we do. Yet what we do depends mainly on what we believe. If you believe that your bank is heading for bankruptcy, you will most certainly draw out your money. If you believe that a certain person is dishonest, you will not invest in his enterprise. But if you believe that a certain field contains oil, you will be only to happy to buy it at a reasonable price.

Not only individuals, but also government and business shape their action by what they believe. Dealings are guided in the management of their business by their belief in certain business principles. To uphold these principles they at times may suffer considerable losses, but they know that in the end it is more than worthwhile because they believe that their reputation is one of their best assets.

A terrorist assassinates because he believes in assassination as a remedy for social ills. A Socialist aims at destroying religion because he believes or claims to believe that this earth is all there is. What would shock a man of right ethics glorifies a man of wrong ethics. The heroes of mankind are they who, having grand ideas, whether of patriotism, courage, or generosity, have lived up to them. Religion has heroes as well as country. The saints are the heroes of Christianity. The saints are those followers of Christ who had as ideals Christ Himself and aimed to live worthily of Him. All Christians are followers of Christ. All Christians must be motived by the principles of Christ, who said: "He who is not with Me is against Me." We are with Christ when we live by His principles. We are living by His principles when our conduct is based on belief in His doctrine.

Let us look at a few Catholic beliefs and see for ourselves their effect and on conduct.

The Incarnation (The Word made Flesh) teaches me that Jesus Christ, the Son of Almighty God, became man, and suffered and died in order to save my immortal soul. Do I believe this? If I do, it means that I must hold my soul to be of very great value. It means that if Christ valued it so highly as to give His life for my soul, I should certainly value it above my life. Therefore, rather than lose my soul. I will surrender to every imaginable loss. Only one thing can cause me to lose my soul! Sin! Therefore, rather than sin, I shall, like the martyrs, sacrifice property, liberty, or life. In doing so, Christ's words will come home to me; "He who loses his life for my sake shall find it."

Father De Smet, an Indian missionary, relates that it was his custom to visit various tribes of his mission, one after the other. It usually took him two years to cover the field. After instructing a tribe, he baptized those properly prepared and the infants, and administered Holy Communion to the adults. On leaving he selected one best qualified to act in his place, whose duty it was to assemble the tribe for morning and evening prayers and for special service on Sunday. Returning to a certain tribe, after an absence of two years, he began by hearing confession. Having heard all who presented themselves, he noticed that the one whom he had put in charge of the mission did not come to confession.

After a time he went in search of him. When he found him he said, "My good man, I have been waiting for you to go to confession." The Indian replied: "I am not going to confession, Father." He said it reverently, but firmly. The priest was shocked. In a distressed voice he inquired: "How is this - you, who should set a good example, refuse to do your duty?" To which the Indian replied, "There is no need of going to confession." But on seeing the dismay in the face of the missionary, he added, "Did you not tell us, Father, that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, suffered a cruel death on the cross for me?" "Yes, my child, I did." "And did you not say that He suffered because of my sins?" "I did, my child.""Well, Father, if an Indian suffered stripes for me, or lost his arm for me, do you think I could do anything to hurt that Indian? And how could I commit sin, which you told us is the only thing which offends the good Jesus who died for me? I have no sins to confess, Father, and I hope I never will, and I will die rather than sin." The good priest realized that he was in the presence of a saint.

In order to understand the effect of believes and conduct all we have to do is to look around us. Those who do not believe in hell seem to be going rapidly in the way that leads to it. The morals of today, except where religious belief exist, are virtually pagan. Immodesty, impurity, dishonesty, corruption, abortion, divorce and despair meet us on all sides. Worldly people, who have discarded belief in revelation, are living as if they were a law to themselves. Their lives are the best argument against their false belief.

Christ's Church teaches that we are creatures of God, and as such, subjects of the Creator. It teaches that as subjects of God we are here to do His will, not our own. It teaches that Christ came to place us on the highway to everlasting life and blessedness, and that this highway is the way of the commandments. "If thou wilt enter into eternal life, keep My Commandments."

Source: Fr. M. J. Scott. S.J.