Now I'm going to go off on a tangent, and those of you who are Catholic, please don't feel this is a personal attack. I loves you all very much. Especially you, Amber, you sweetie. *hugs* This is just my lil' ol' opinion, and you all know that I don't shut up when I get on a roll. ; P Please feel free to correct me if I've misinterpreted something. Goodness knows, I'm wrong on a fairly regular basis.
Re: Catholicism. The whole confession thing and the role of priests as intercessors have always been a big part of my beef with Catholicism. I don't believe that there is any man on Earth who has the right to say whether or not my sins are forgiven. That is between me and God, and He is truly generous and merciful. He is EAGER to forgive me. All I have to do is ask Him.
Another beef is the saints and praying to Mary. Okay, if it isn't worship, it's waaay too close to idolatry for comfort for me, as Mary was merely a woman - a very, very good one, to be sure, since God picked her to be the mother of Jesus - but she was only human. The dead can't intercede for the living, so why say "Hail Marys" and pray Rosaries to her? Jesus, however, is not dead, and He can and will intercede with God on our behalf.
Another topic: I don't believe that good works alone will get you to Heaven, and good deeds are a major point in Islam. For Muslims, you have to do more good works than bad in order to go to Heaven (or "Paradise"). Also, what I have read is that Muslims believe everyone's fate is determined while they are in the womb. So people can do bad things most of their lives, but start doing good things towards the end, and they still go to Heaven. Likewise, people can do good things most of their lives, but start doing bad things towards the end, so they still go to Hell, even if the "predetermined for Heaven" guy did way more bad stuff. That's a precipice of uncertainty that I really don't want to play on.
Good works as proof and part of your faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior is what I've always believed to be the way to Heaven. Jesus said "Love the Lord Your God, love thy neighbor, etc". Doing all of the things that Jesus taught means you didn't just say "I believe in Jesus as the Son of God" and leave your Christianity at that; i.e., a "passive Christian". It means you truly tried to live your life according to what He taught. Didn't He say something about "faith without good works" and "good works without faith"?