As many good works as possible? What?


Union with God means the human person makes an active, continual, and creative obedience to God’s will. St. Francis de Sales, a bishop, doctor of the Church, and expert in spiritual direction, calls this union, devotion. It is cultivated by prayer, the sacraments, and spiritual direction and expressed by service to neighbors.

Devotion, then, is the “prompt, active and faithful observance of God’s commands," doing “quickly and lovingly as many good works as possible, both those commanded and those merely counseled or inspired.”

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As you may know, Jews have no problem with this teaching since good works, preferably if they are done lovingly (but even if not), form the core of Judaism’s beliefs, which is more an orthoprax than an orthodox religion, believing in faith in action. Not that faith per se is unimportant–far from it–but faith without good works is hollow and meaningless, and not really faith at all. Catholics believe this too; however, the notion that good works alone can redeem an individual is what creates a problem for them. In particular, if one does good works without believing in the divinity of Jesus, the Trinity, or partaking of the Sacraments and, in addition, for the purpose of display, this may very well not be sufficient to receive the grace of G-d’s salvation. Many Protestants believe this–apart from some of the Sacraments–even more so, and some go so far as to say that faith alone (sola fide) suffices. Jews, however, are not as concerned with salvation as Christians, and the good works required (as many as possible) are a moral imperative and a reward in their own right rather than a means for redemption.


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