The Gift: Salvation in the Catechism Rob Koons St. Louis King of France March 4, 2013 Why Should You be Admitted to Heaven? A typically Evangelical question. It's a good question: we should know the proper Catholic and Christian answer. What do I base my hope of heaven on? Some Possible Answers Because Jesus saved me. Because I have faith in/ believe in Jesus. Simply by God's grace ( undeserved favor and help). Because I have lived the sort of life that merits eternal happiness. How do these answers relate to each other? This is the central problem that still divides Catholics and Protestants. Many Protestants say: we are saved by God's grace through faith alone. Are good works needed? The sacraments Eucharist and reconciliation? We are saved by Grace alone Grace is God's favor and help for us, which we cannot earn or deserve. God graciously infuses in us the three theological virtues: faith, hope and love. When we cooperate with God's grace, His grace in our lives merits still more grace. Faith: The Beginning We cannot convert ourselves. Faith is a free gift. Nothing we can do before faith can merit the gift of faith. CCC 153: Faith is a gift of God, a supernatural virtue infused by Him. St. Thomas Aquinas The Pelagians held that this cause was nothing else than man's free-will: and consequently they said that the beginning of faith is from ourselves.... But this is false, for, since man, by assenting to matters of faith, is raised above his nature, this must needs accrue to him from some supernatural principle moving him inwardly; and this is God. ST II-II q6 a1 The Council of Trent We are justified freely, because none of those things which precede justification -- whether faith or works -- merit the grace itself of justification. For, if it be a grace, it is not now by works, otherwise, as the same Apostle says, grace is no more grace. Sixth Session, Chapter 8. Merit and Grace are not Opposed The merit of man before God in the Christian life arises from the fact that God has freely chosen to associate man with the work of his grace. The fatherly action of God is first on his own initiative, and then follows man's free acting through his collaboration, so that the merit of good works is to be attributed in the first place to the grace of God, then to the faithful. Man's merit, moreover, itself is due to God, for his good actions proceed in Christ, from the predispositions and assistance given by the Holy Spirit. CCC 2008 Meriting isn't Earning Catechism 2008: there is no strict merit of man before God, since we owe him everything. To 'merit' God's blessing, grace is simply to claim God's promises by meeting their conditions. Like 'meriting' a discount by cutting out a coupon. Our Merit Depends on our Connection to Christ Filial adoption, in making us partakers by grace in the divine nature, can bestow true merit on us as a result of God's gratuitous justice. This is our right by grace, the full right of love, making us "co-heirs" with Christ and worthy of obtaining "the promised inheritance of eternal life." The merits of our good works are gifts of the divine goodness. "Grace has gone before us; now we are given what is due.... Our merits are God's gifts." CCC 2009 The Quality of our Merit comes from Christ The charity of Christ is the source in us of all our merits before God. Grace, by uniting us to Christ in active love, ensures the supernatural quality of our acts and consequently their merit before God and before men. The saints have always had a lively awareness that their merits were pure grace. CCC 2011 Faith is a free human act God must take the initiative, but this does not exclude the necessity for a free human response. The Catechism: 154 Believing is possible only by grace and the interior helps of the Holy Spirit. But it is no less true that believing is an authentically human act. Trusting in God and cleaving to the truths he has revealed is contrary neither to human freedom nor to human reason. Even in human relations it is not contrary to our dignity to believe what other persons tell us about themselves and their intentions, or to trust their promises... 155 In faith, the human intellect and will co-operate with divine grace: "Believing is an act of the intellect assenting to the divine truth by command of the will St. Thomas Aquinas Our actions are meritorious in so far as they proceed from the free-will moved with grace by God. Therefore every human act proceeding from the free-will, if it be referred to God, can be meritorious. Now the act of believing is an act of the intellect assenting to the Divine truth at the command of the will moved by the grace of God, so that it is subject to the free-will in relation to God; and consequently the act of faith can be meritorious. ST II-II, q2, a9 Faith is the Beginning We are therefore said to be justified by faith, because faith is the beginning of human salvation, the foundation, and the root of all Justification; without which it is impossible to please God.... Council of Trent, Sixth Session, chapter 8. Living vs. Dead Faith A living faith is 'formed' by love or charity. We are saved by faith 'working through love' (Galatians 5:6). When the gift of charity is lost (through mortal sin), the gift of faith may remain, but then it is dead faith. Dead faith cannot save. James 2:14-24. The Catechism The gift of faith remains in one who has not sinned against it. But "faith apart from works is dead": when it is deprived of hope and love, faith does not fully unite the believer to Christ and does not make him a living member of his Body. 1815 Mortal Sin and its Remedy Mortal sin involves three elements: grave matter, knowledge and freedom. It implies a decisive turning away from God and His grace. The sacramental remedy: confession and reconciliation. Council of Trent CANON XXVII.-If any one saith, that there is no mortal sin but that of infidelity; or, that grace once received is not lost by any other sin, however grievous and enormous, save by that of infidelity ; let him be anathema. CANON XXIX.-If any one saith, that he, who has fallen after baptism, is not able by the grace of God to rise again; or, that he is able indeed to recover the justice which he has lost, but by faith alone without the sacrament of Penance, contrary to what the holy Roman and universal Church -- instructed by Christ and his Apostles -- has hitherto professed, observed, and taught; let him be anathema. Object of Faith The object of our faith is God and His promises, offered to us thought the Holy Sacraments. We don't put faith in our own faith, or our own experiences or feelings. The Sacraments don't depend on us for their validity: ex opere operato ( they act by their own action, not ours). Faith comes from the Word of God 21. Therefore, like the Christian religion itself, all the preaching of the Church must be nourished and regulated by Sacred Scripture. For in the sacred books, the Father who is in heaven meets His children with great love and speaks with them; and the force and power in the word of God is so great that it stands as the support and energy of the Church, the strength of faith for her sons, the food of the soul, the pure and everlasting source of spiritual life. Consequently these words are perfectly applicable to Sacred Scripture: "For the word of God is living and active" (Heb. 4:12) and "it has power to build you up and give you your heritage among all those who are sanctified" (Acts 20:32; see 1 Thess. 2:13). Vatican II, Dei Verbum, chapter 6. Justification through Faith Justification is at the same time the acceptance of God's righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ. Righteousness (or "justice") here means the rectitude of divine love. With justification, faith, hope, and charity are poured into our hearts, and obedience to the divine will is granted us. CCC 1999 Why Faith comes First For since the end is the principle in matters of action, as stated above (I-II, 13, 3; I-II, 34, 4, ad 1), the theological virtues, the object of which is the last end, must needs precede all the others. Again, the last end must of necessity be present to the intellect before it is present to the will, since the will has no inclination for anything except in so far as it is apprehended by the intellect. Hence, as the last end is present in the will by hope and charity, and in the intellect, by faith, the first of all the virtues must, of necessity, be faith, because natural knowledge cannot reach God as the object of heavenly bliss, which is the aspect under which hope and charity tend towards Him. Thomas Aquinas, ST II-II, q4, a7 Hope Faith informs us about God's love and mercy in Jesus. By hope, we are encouraged to cooperate with grace, despite obstacles, in pursuit of personal salvation. Two opposite vices: despair and presumption. Despair and Presumption Despair means giving up on one's own salvation, believing that one has exhausted God's mercy. Presumption can take 2 forms: 1. Believing in my own righteousness so much that I take no pains to avoid mortal sin. 2. Believing that I cannot lose grace even if I commit mortal sin. Love (Charity) The greatest of the three. Charity completes the other two. Even in heaven, love of God will remain, uniting us with Him. Like faith and hope, charity is infused in us by God through the sacraments, for Christ's sake. Christ Alone? Christ is the one Savior: it is His righteousness that unites us to God. The sacraments, the Church, Mary and the saints are the means by which we are drawn deeper into Christ. Not in competition with Christ, nor obstacles between us and Him, but means through which we connect WTO Him. Back to the Original Question All of the answers are correct: by God's grace, through faith, because we merit salvation. These aren't in competition or conflict. Christ is in all of them. He is the substance and essence of our salvation.