As a boy, I often wondered why the Catholic catechism always stated that suffering and penance were necessary for salvation. Being young, it appeared to me that prayer, good works, and charity would demonstrate love for God and would assure salvation.
So, I wondered: “how can earthly pain open the gate to Heaven?”. The answer is that penance and suffering humble a man. The virtue of humility may thus be defined:
A quality by which a person considers his own defects and willingly submits himself to God. Humility is a moral virtue annexed to the cardinal virtue of temperance, which represses our sinful desires or appetites. Humility is a repressing virtue opposed to pride.
1911, Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 7, article: Humility.
St. Gregory the Great, Doctor of the Church, considered pride the queen of all vices—one of the seven deadly sins. He further stated, of a proud man: “Through the love of his own worth, he aims to withdraw himself from subjugation to Almighty God.” 1911, Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 12, article: Pride.
St. Thomas Aquinas, Greatest Doctor of the Catholic Church, rated pride as the blackest of sins, committed by one who turns his back on God. Solely because in his self-exaltation such a man is determined not to submit. Id.
The first sin (i.e., Lucifer’s) was pride. After God created Lucifer, his first act was to rebel against God (“Non serviam!”), locking the gate of Heaven to him forever.
In the Garden of Paradise, Adam and Eve imitated Lucifer’s pride when they took a bite of the apple, so they could “become like God”. Pride has always been a black and deadly sin that keeps many, many souls out of Heaven.
How does one obtain the “key” of humility necessary for eternal salvation? Through suffering and penance, resulting in profound humility which is opposed to pride.
One cannot acquire humility by wishing it so. One can only acquire humility through effort (penance and suffering), prayer, and grace. A suffering and penitent person is not prideful. No, he understands his human shortcomings and his dependence on his Creator.
Our merciful Creator came to earth to demonstrate for us the need for suffering and penance. For example, He fasted for forty days in the desert. Our Lord wanted to be sure we understand what we need for salvation. He further taught, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” St. Matthew, 16:24. St. Paul taught us the same thing when declaring that arunner must suffer and train, in order to win the prize. 1 Cor. 9:24.
The conciliar church professes the opposite: everyone goes to heaven. The new mass is devoid of sacrifice and is the cult of Man. The conciliar church has further removed most, if not all, penance and suffering during Lent and Advent, thereby eliminating what we need to acquire humility and eternal salvation.
Most Catholics accept this evil, easy path of Vatican II. But Traditional Catholics know we will win and the gates of Heaven will open to us through penance and suffering, leading to humility.