And Jesus answering, spoke again in parables to them, saying: The kingdom of heaven is likened to a king, who made a marriage for his son. And he sent his servants, to call them that were invited to the marriage; and they would not come. Again he sent other servants, saying: Tell them that were invited, Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my calves and fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come ye to the marriage. But they neglected, and went their own ways, one to his farm, and another to his merchandise.
And the rest laid hands on his servants, and having treated them contumeliously, put them to death. But when the king had heard of it, he was angry, and sending his armies, he destroyed those murderers, and burnt their city. Then he saith to his servants: The marriage indeed is ready; but they that were invited were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways; and as many as you shall find, call to the marriage. And his servants going forth into the ways, gathered together all that they found, both bad and good: and the marriage was filled with guests.
And the king went in to see the guests: and he saw there a man who had not on a wedding garment. And he saith to him: Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? But he was silent. Then the king said to the waiters: Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the exterior darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen. (St. Matthew 22:1-14)
Our Lord told us many times, in very few words, how to get to Heaven. It is an amazing characteristic of the Gospel. Let’s analyze the above passage for a minute.
How can we be reasonably sure of our place in Heaven?
After Adam and Eve committed Original Sin the gates of Heaven were slammed shut to Humanity. We lost all of the Sanctifying Grace in our souls that God gave us automatically upon Creation. Because humans now were tarred with sin, and without sanctifying Grace, we could not enter Heaven.
God’s justice and wisdom put the souls of the righteous – either Jews who observed the Old Law in a just way or Gentiles who pleased Him by living a life of righteousness according to the natural law imprinted in the souls of every person – in limbo after death until Christ’s resurrection. Everyone else went to Hell.
The Old Law could not get anyone to Heaven because the Old Law did not infuse Grace into our souls. It merely mitigated the offence of some sin by the sacrifices of animals but it could not reconcile us with our Creator. The sacrifices of animals were not powerful enough to make up for the amount that we estranged ourselves from God. It was only enough to mitigate God’s anger for some righteous people to not experience the pains of Hell upon death but it could not bestow Heaven. Remember, God is spotless and without blemish. We can not enter Heaven unless our souls are spotless and without blemish, in the same way that Humanity was created before The Fall.
Christ’s birth, life, death and resurrection threw open the gates of Heaven again because Christ offered Himself, His blameless self, in the place of sinners who deserve nothing but death. God accepted this sacrifice to atone for all of the sins that had been committed in the past and that would be committed in the future.
Christ’s death and resurrection did not automatically re-infuse Grace back into our souls. We have to acquire that ourselves, for free from God, by accepting the gift by our own free will. In order to be privy to these blessings we need a wedding garment.
In this parable, of Heaven and of Judgement, the wedding garment refers to whether or not a person has sanctifying grace in their souls upon Judgement.
If you have any Sanctifying Grace in your soul upon death you will eventually make it to Heaven. There is no question about it.
Humans have no Sanctifying Grace upon birth, because of Original Sin.That is why children who die without being baptized enter into limbo, a place of natural happiness where no one can see God, and not Heaven.
Original Sin, like all Mortal Sin, destroys the Sanctifying Grace in our souls. It destroys our wedding garment and makes Humanity unfit for Eternal Life.
Christ’s work on Earth – His Gospel – was dedicated to giving Humanity highly visible, highly tangible streams of Grace that we could ALWAYS rely on without fail.
They are the Sacraments. Baptism. Eucharist. Confirmation. Reconciliation. Anointing of the sick. Marriage. Holy orders.
If you died after receiving any Sacrament in a worthy manner you will absolutely go to Heaven. That is God’s promise to Humanity. It is what Christ’s life was dedicated to establishing and the glory of his death and resurrection.
When you see someone baptized you should be picturing a priest physically inputting grace into a soul for the first time. When someone makes a good confession the priest, in the absolution, removes all of the mortal sin from a person’s soul and physically inputs our wedding garment. When you are receiving the Eucharist in a worthy manner you are physically receiving Grace – the Body and Blood of God – into your soul. When a person gets confirmed, or receives the last rites, or gets married, or is ordained with Holy Orders, they are physically receiving Sanctifying Grace into their souls.
The more Grace in your soul, the stronger your connection to God, the more fruits you will produce, the more you can resist sin.
Mortal sin will destroy the Sanctifying Grace in our souls and the Gates of Heaven are shut until we reconcile ourselves with a Sacrament received in a worthy way and re-infuse our souls with Grace. That is usually confession but can be Anointing of the Sick for the dying. Additionally, a baptized person can make a perfect Act of Contrition before death, like the good thief did, but unlike the Sacraments, there is no formal process that gives peace of mind and certainty to the believer that grace has been deceived. It is a tricky thing to do correctly.
Other Churches outside of the Catholic Church (most of the time, and apart from the Orthodox) only provide one sacrament, one way to get Sanctifying Grace into your soul: Baptism.
The Catholic Church provides seven. Don’t take your chances.
Make sure that you die with your wedding garment. Do not let everything going on in the world confuse or shake you. Do everything that you can to make sure that you die with Sanctifying Grace in your soul. Nothing else truly matters.