Q: In the Apostles’ Creed, why does it say, “He descended into hell?”
A: Many of us, when we were younger, learned a host of Christian prayers, one which is the Apostles’ Creed. The Catechism of the Catholic Church outlines quite well what we mean when we recite the Apostles’ Creed and mention that, “He descended into hell.”
We read in the catechism the New Testament affirms that Jesus was raised from the dead, and, so, presupposes Jesus, also, sojourned in the realm of the dead prior to his resurrection. Jesus, like all men, experienced death and so joined the others in the realm of the dead, “but he descended there as Savior, proclaiming the good news to the spirits imprisoned there” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, Paragraph 632). Our faith goes on to teach that the Gospel was even preached to those who died before Jesus walked the earth and instructs you and me that the Gospel message of salvation is brought to complete fulfillment, not simply in those who have died after Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection, but also those who lived before Jesus’ earthly ministry (Catechism of the Catholic Church, Paragraph 634). Finally, we recall that Jesus is the “Author of Life” and has come into the world so that all who hear him will live. We find great comfort in the fact that Jesus is one of us and that he died and, in doing so, opened up the gates of Heaven to all of us, regardless the era in which we live.
Q: Will people of other faiths be deprived of Heaven at the Last Judgment?
A: We are well aware that God is all-knowing and knows completely why there are so many faiths in the world. We, also, know that God is all just and merciful. While these following works will seem to be a “no answer” to your question, I believe it is important for us to understand that we pray for all of our brothers and sisters throughout the world, especially concerning the promise of eternal life from Jesus Christ.
Each Good Friday Passion liturgy and the Prayers of the Faithful, we pray for all people regardless their faith belief. This gives us hope that God will hear our prayers and will exercise the same mercy and compassion to others as he does for us. Jesus Christ came into the world in his Incarnation in order to be the Savior of all humanity. Our task is to reach out to our brothers and sisters and to share with them the Good News of Jesus Christ and the promise of eternal life offered in the person of Jesus. Together let us pray for our brothers and sisters of other faiths that they may one day dwell with all the saints in heaven.
Q: How did God die?
A: The short answer to your question is that God the Son died on the cross on Mount Calvary. We witness firsthand in the Passion narrative of Jesus’ human nature, as he offered up his life for our salvation. Furthermore, we, also, recognize that following Jesus’ death that he rose from the dead, offering promise to all of us. Each one of us should be of profound gratitude that God the Father so loved the world that he sent us his only Son for our salvation. And, in order for us to be redeemed, God the Son offered his life for us on the cross.
The next time you and I look at the crucifix, we should be grateful that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, gave up everything so that you and I might have eternal life. As we venture the so-called “Dog Days of Summer,” may we do so with renewed hope in the God who loves us more than you and I can fathom.
God bless you and your family.