Sunday, September 20, 2009

more of my endless musings on justification...

"Wherefore faith itself, even when it does not work by charity [Gal 5:6], is in itself a gift of God, and the act of faith is a work pertaining to salvation, by which man yields voluntary obedience to God Himself, by assenting to and cooperating with His grace, which he is able to resist (can. v)."

(Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith, ch. III, "Of Faith")

I found this on Dave Armstrong's blog, and I thought it was interesting to finally hear the magesterium talk about faith without works. To me Catholicism has a vast deal of writing about faith with works/working in love, and about Baptism, Penance, and the necessity of the sacraments. If I could have my 'dream encyclical' it would be on the issue of faith without works, repentence without the desire for confession, mortal sin, and imperfect contrition. Those are the grey areas I'm constantly asked about by new or returning Catholics.

Psychologically, I think it's impossible to be sane and hold the view that 6 days out of 7 you're going to Hell, so I've just decided that I have "special revelation" (Isn't scripture special revelation anyway?) that the fact that I have faith in Christ and that I will go to confession eventually is enough for God (possibly even more than enough). For if Catholics are so desperate about the idea that he "wills that all might be saved" and that 'all that is necessary is an act of the will' for salvation, then my will for salvation apart from any present sacrament, should be sufficient source for hope in salvation. (that is until someone quotes a mean-spirited council from the middle ages that says the exact opposite).


  1. Exactly, Andrew. That's a good way to be.

    Consider those who desire baptism and die a day or a week or a month before receiving it--of course we believe our Lord has mercy on them!

    Consider the toughest case: Suicide. It's a grave sin, obviously, for one kills himself, and the fact that someone did it usually means it was done deliberately, yet, our Church does NOT say "everyone who commits suicide is in Hell." Absolutely not. In fact, in every suicide there are factors involved including great duress, fear, guilt, remorse, anxiety, depression, even a despair of ever escaping from chronic pain, etc. All of these can mitigate someone's culpability in ways only our Lord can know. Sadly, do some who commit suicide go to Hell: I would say probably. Do many instead go to purgatory and then to Heaven: I believe so.

    Christ bless you! There are gray areas in regard to the things you mentioned. Sometimes they are not as cut and dried because they depend upon the particular person/place/time and cannot be stated in dogmatic terms.

  2. Hi. I just discovered your blog, and love all the great questions. I would say that it's the desire for salvation in us that we surrender to. So, yes, it's an act of will, but it's the willing embrace of what God has accomplished.

    You may find the article below helpful. God knows that I have!