Catholic Definition of Salvation

I’ve been trying to comprehend the Catholic definition of salvation. It’s difficult because I’ve never really heard/read it clearly explained. Does the Catholic Church believe that salvation is earned or that we are continually to be in a state of sanctification after turning to Christ? Or am I completely missing the mark on this one? I would appreciate any elaboration on the matter. Thank you all and God bless!

Your best reference source, I think, for this inquiry is the Cathechism of the Catholic Church.

usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/what-we-believe/catechism/catechism-of-the-catholic-church/epub/index.cfm

Catholics do not believe they are saved by works, but by the Grace of Jesus Christ which additionally implies our cooperation with that Grace in our daily life.

If you input “salvation” into the search box, you’ll get 269 hits for that word in the catechsim. I think the first one, paragraph 1741 is worth quoting here:

1741 Liberation and salvation. By his glorious Cross Christ has won salvation for all men. He redeemed them from the sin that held them in bondage. “For freedom Christ has set us free.”34 In him we have communion with the “truth that makes us free.”35 The Holy Spirit has been given to us and, as the Apostle teaches, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”36 Already we glory in the “liberty of the children of God.”37 (782)

catholic.com/tracts/assurance-of-salvation

Catholics believe in salvation through the grace of God, via faith AND good works. I am not super well-versed in Protestant salvation beliefs, but based on my understanding, I’ve heard that they believe in salvation through faith alone (sola fide). I’ve also heard that once Protestants (in some denominations) proclaim their faith in Christ, they are saved from that point forward without any need for works.

Catholics, on the other hand, view salvation as a process, not a one time thing. By cooperating with the grace of God that was only possible for us to receive through the redemptive death of Christ on the cross, we gradually improve as human beings in our faith and works, making us worthy of the eternal reward of Heaven. :smiley:

More info: catholic.org/featured/headline.php?ID=105

God bless!

Thank you so much for sharing! I’ll have to do some reading throughout the Catechism about salvation.

Just to reiterate what Angela has said, Phillipians 2:12-13 sum it up pretty well, I think, as one of my personal favorite quotations on this subject:

“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;
for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

RSV: CE

For cooperation with grace of salvation you need:

  1. Conversion, and baptism, if it isn’t already applied. :stuck_out_tongue:
  2. If baptism is present, then Confession for remission of, at least, mortal sins.
  3. If baptism isn’t present, then get baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
  4. Once you gained, or regained, the state of sanctifying grace, you are open to receiving actual graces.
  5. If one looses sanctifying grace, looses salvation, repeat no.2.
  6. Daily immersion in grace, through: prayer, sacraments, prayer, good works, prayer, acts of mercy, even more prayer and of course prayer. :thumbsup:
  7. Sacraments guarantee grace, if no.4 is true. If no.4 is not true, repeat no.2.

I’m sure I missed something, but this is a small list as to getting yourself saved by the salvific grace of the Cross.
God extends his hand, you need to grab it, and never let go. :wink:

Just taking a look at the table of contents to the Catechism is a lesson in theology right there.

vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/_INDEX.HTM

An invaluable resource if you really want to get down to brass tacks about what Catholics believe on salvation is the document by Evangelicals and Catholics Together on Salvation.
christianitytoday.com/ct/1997/december8/7te034.html?paging=off

Scroll to the bottom to see the list of signatories on the document. Document starts after a brief intro here by a protestant.

The definition of salvation seems to be the same among all protestants - Jesus died on the cross for our sins, we repent, we are forgiven. However, there are differed ideologies that go along with it. Some believe you can’t lose salvation. Others believe you can. Some believe as the Catholic Church, that it is through faith and works, others believe it is through faith alone. From what I’ve read in the Bible my personal belief is that salvation in and of itself is a one time event, BUT truly living your life for Christ and accepting salvation has 3 different aspects. 1. The act of accepting Christ as Savior (in the Catholic Church, this would be baptism followed by confirmation). 2. Sanctification - Learning more about God’s word, striving to live in His will, and doing good works as to show the fruits of your salvation. 3. Glorification - When we enter upon eternity, the purification of our souls before entering the kingdom of Heaven. (The Catholic Church would call this “purgatory”. My understanding from what I’ve read in the Bible, though, is that it’s a cleansing of the soul - an action rather than a place. I may be wrong as I am no theologian, this is just my understanding.) So, essentially, I do believe that accepting salvation allows the Holy Spirit into your life to change your heart and spirit. But I also believe that because the Holy Spirit does change your heart and spirit, you will then feel led to live your life according to the word of God and His will. That’s not to say you’ll be perfect and never sin, but you will strive to be as pure and God-fearing as a person can be while on earth.

Thank you for explaining and sharing the link! :slight_smile: I’ve been attending the Catholic Church for some time and now I’m trying to understand the beliefs and discern everything. I just want to follow the truth and God’s word but sometimes it’s difficult to work through everything. I know that God will guide me, though. It just might take some time to figure everything out.

In regards to #2, are you referring to confessions of sins to Jesus Christ of confessions of sin to the priest? I know that in the Bible we are commanded to confess our sins to our brother - so I believe it’s important. I’m just unsure of which you are referring to. Also, is it true that Christians who have not converted to Catholicism should not go to confession? I’ve heard that before. I’ve never gone because I was unsure, but I would like to go. I just don’t feel ready to convert to the Catholicism yet because I’m still unsure of some things. Thank you for your answer and God bless you! :slight_smile:

I just don’t feel ready to convert to the Catholicism yet because I’m still unsure of some things.

You are more than welcome to sign up for RCIA clases. (Right of Christian Initiation for Adults). This does not obligate you to become Catholic. It’s simplly instructive of what the Catholic Faith is all about. Then after the class, you make the decision.

Some RCIA classes are excellent and others are not so much. A great teacher makes all the difference, so you’d want to research the choices of RCIA classes available in your area and possibly shop around for the better ones in your area if you were so interested.

Christ’s Blessings to You!

Well, it’s one and the same. In Confession the priest is there as Christ, from his own authority. The sacraments are for those who embrace fully the truth, so, only Catholics may receive the sacraments.

As for the authority to forgive sins of a priest you can find it in Scripture.

Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained. Jn 20,21-23

A bit of exegesis. :stuck_out_tongue:

  1. The word sent, isn’t the same as the word sent in the following sentence: I send a letter. It is in the meaning of sending someone with the full authority the sender has. The Father sends his Son with his full authority, and, in the same way, he sends the apostles, with the full authority he received from the Father. So, the apostles can do all that Jesus did, ie forgiving sins. It is a big deal, because only God can forgive sins.
  2. Jesus breathes the Holy Spirit, the same Holy Spirit that was breathed at creation in the nostrils of Adam, to give him life. This is the new creation by God himself, in the person of Jesus Christ.
  3. By the power of the Holy Spirit they can forgive sins, but then he says: some you may forgive, some not. How do you decide which ones can receive remission, and which ones cannot receive remission? You need to hear them, to know if you can or cannot give remission of sins.
  4. The apostles gave this power, through laying of hands and prayer, to the bishops and priests. And this has continued through out the ages to present day, and will continue until Christ’s second coming.
  5. A priest, by the nature of his consecration, given to him by the bishop, the successor of the apostles, has the authority, given by Christ himself, to forgive sins.

Most importantly, and also in the basic way which even a child can see, is we must love the Spirit of Jesus.

The Classic Catholic principle is probably to believe in the Gospel and be Baptized. Or maybe be Baptized and Believe in the Gospel which brought Baptism.

The doctrine of Faith and Works is really quite simple and logical. The protestant arguement against it, must always try to pit good works which really do have a part in our salvation against the faith. But this will always end up falling apart, because the Faith Teaches that works done in faith do Justify. James 2:24

The thing that is hard for Protestants to accept is the fact that God, through the person of Jesus, offers salvation to all mankind, yet not all men follow Him in salvation. You see, there is our “Initial Justification” which is Christ’s work and only because of the grace of God. He chose, out of His goodness, to associate man with Himself. This, we could never earn through any works. Neither could we earn the glory of heaven, without Christ. But since we have Christ, we are able to merit the promise He gave us. Therefore, Salvation, Faith and Good Works are free gifts from God. These are a participation in His life.

There is no set of “works” which must be done. There is only Love for our creator, and the acknowledgment that He is good to us out of His own goodness. We must receive His goodness in order to overcome the enemy of Godliness, which we all participated in through Adam and Eve.

If Christ says we will be judged according to our deeds, then what we do has direct relation to our salvation or our condemnation.

I think, as Christians we are obligated to confess that which has offended our conscience, which has been formed through the Spirit and the Bride, to whom it is relavent. As Catholics, we believe the Lord has joined Himself to His bride in Sacrament, so a New Covenant priest, or Presbyter, is Christ with us, in order to fullfill the full contrition and thus parden to those who have offended the grace which brought them into the life of God.

Something important to keep in mind, is that Jesus is by no means bound by His Sacraments, but we are. This means, He is able to judge according to His own judgement. He is not restricted by anything. If He determines one has sought forgiveness and decides to forgive, He can certainly do so. But we should not put the Lord to the test.

:thumbsup: I don’t find anything in contradiction to Catholic Faith here.

I’ve been attending the Catholic Church for some time and now I’m trying to understand the beliefs and discern everything. I just want to follow the truth and God’s word but sometimes it’s difficult to work through everything. I know that God will guide me, though.

You should know now, the genuine focus on Christ’s saving work of reconciliation in the Mass celebration. In this celebration, we can open our hearts to His Word and Sacrifice. We can examine ourselves before the measure of complete obedience to God. Jesus alone bore the burden of Godliness, and then shared the burden to those who love Him. So, we are called together in Mass, and then we are sent into the world from the Mass, each having strengthened himself in the person of Jesus.

The Catholic mind boggles at what you wrote.
Let’s see:

What do you mean by Spirit of Jesus? What does a child understand by Spirit of Jesus? Never heard of the Spirit of Jesus, maybe the Spirit that proceeds from the Father and from the Son, ie the Holy Spirit. We must love God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, but never heard of the Spirit of Jesus; it sounds protestant.

The Classic Catholic principle is probably to believe in the Gospel and be Baptized. Or maybe be Baptized and Believe in the Gospel which brought Baptism.

Classic Catholic principle?! :eek: What are you even saying here? The Gospel that brought baptism? The word probably isn’t very Catholic either. Are you probably referring to Acts 2,38!? Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

The doctrine of Faith and Works is really quite simple and logical. The protestant arguement against it, must always try to pit good works which really do have a part in our salvation against the faith. But this will always end up falling apart, because the Faith Teaches that works done in faith do Justify. James 2:24

I doubt that the doctrine of Faith and Works is that simple. if it were so, there wouldn’t be millions of people in error running about the Earth.

The thing that is hard for Protestants to accept is the fact that God, through the person of Jesus, offers salvation to all mankind, yet not all men follow Him in salvation.

I think that Protestants really do accept the fact that God offers salvation for all mankind, and not all men follow Him in salvation. That’s why they’re running about the Earth, trying to save every Catholic from their religion. :stuck_out_tongue:

You see, there is our “Initial Justification” which is Christ’s work and only because of the grace of God. He chose, out of His goodness, to associate man with Himself.

Actually, He associated himself with man, not the other way around. But this is semantics. :wink:

Faith and Good Works are free gifts from God.

I thought we were the ones supposed to do the Works?! Hmm?

There is no set of “works” which must be done. There is only Love for our creator, and the acknowledgment that He is good to us out of His own goodness. We must receive His goodness in order to overcome the enemy of Godliness, which we all participated in through Adam and Eve.

Really!? :eek: You sound more and more protestant. You just described Sola Fide. There are plenty of works to be done, for our own salvation and for the salvation of others.

If Christ says we will be judged according to our deeds, then what we do has direct relation to our salvation or our condemnation.

Didn’t you just say that there is no set of works to be done? So, which one is it? Do we need the Works or not?

I think, as Christians we are obligated to confess that which has offended our conscience, which has been formed through the Spirit and the Bride

I suppose you are referring to the Holy Spirit and the Church here. We do not need to confess that which has offended our conscience, but which offended God Almighty, not our puny conscience. If we were to confess only that which bothers the conscience most of us would remain with mortal sins on the soul.
Your faith is a bit protestantized, no offence. There is more, but I think I have said enough. God bless! :tiphat:

Yes. It’s the same confession. During Confession, the priest acts in persona Christi like he does when consecrating the Host every Mass. It’s still God forgiving the sins or consecrating the Host. It’s just that he acts through the priest to do so. To relate it to the events of the Bible, it’s a similar concept to the miracles the apostles worked in Acts. Paul didn’t have the power to raise Tabitha from the dead. Instead, God worked through Paul to do so.

So now onto the actual question, of how Catholics define and view salvation.

First off, salvation. Believe it or not, Catholics agree that you can’t lose your salvation. The difference, though, between you and I saying that, is that Catholics don’t say a person is saved until they’re through the pearly gates. (Okay, technically in Purgatory, but that’s a different debate)

Instead, what you would call salvation is probably closer to what Catholics would call justification. When a person is baptized, they’re justified, meaning they’re cleansed of any sin (original or actual) and begin receiving God’s saving grace. Of course, however, they’re still a sinner. We’re still in this fallen world we like to call Earth. So our random John Doe messes up and sins. Now if it’s a venial sin, he’s still in the clear. But if it’s a mortal sin, then he just cut himself off from God’s grace. But, of course, God is infinitely forgiving, so he can confess his sins and begin receiving that grace again. This is called being in a state of grace.

I, of course, reference 1 John. In 1 John 5:16-17, there’s mention of sin which leads to death, and sin which does not lead to death. Mortal sin is the former. (And indeed, the RSV even translates it that way) It cuts us off from God’s grace. Venial sin is the latter. It doesn’t cut us off, but it’s still sin. It can still lead us to mortal sin. Think of venial sin as the gateway drug of the sin world. Is it bad? Yeah. Is it entirely deadly? Not really. Is it still going to lead you to do the more hardcore stuff like mortal sin? Yeah.

So finally, what happens when our John Doe dies? If he’s in a state of grace, he goes to Heaven (with a side trip through Purgatory). If he’s not… Well the Catholic Church will never actually say someone’s going to Hell. There’s always the chance that God saves more people than just those in a state of grace. Such as the invincibly ignorant, those who never heard of Jesus.

And finally, Purgatory. I begin with two questions for you. On earth, is humanity in a sinful, fallen state? Yeah. Now when we get to Heaven, are we in a sinless, perfected state? Yeah. Well wait, what happened? We went from being sinful to being sinless. I am positive you agree some sort of event happens after we die to cleanse us completely of sin, and make us perfect enough to be in Heaven. That’s what Catholics are saying with belief in Purgatory. We’re merely giving that final cleansing, or purgation, a name.

Actually, the Church states, in the Catechism, very clear on this subject:

1035 The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, “eternal fire.” The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs.

So, if one dies in a state of mortal sin goes directly to Hell.

What do you mean by Spirit of Jesus? What does a child understand by Spirit of Jesus? Never heard of the Spirit of Jesus, maybe the Spirit that proceeds from the Father and from the Son, ie the Holy Spirit. We must love God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, but never heard of the Spirit of Jesus; it sounds protestant.

Why do you act mellow dramatic about this and then recognize that I am referring to the Holy Spirit? Does Jesus posses any other spirit :shrug:

Classic Catholic principle?! :eek: What are you even saying here? The Gospel that brought baptism? The word probably isn’t very Catholic either. Are you probably referring to Acts 2,38!? Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Consider infant Baptism. One who is Baptized as an infant, according to the Catechism, is in need of the Gospel Taught them so they can fullfil the Commandment of Christ, "Whoever believes and is Baptized, will be saved.

I doubt that the doctrine of Faith and Works is that simple. if it were so, there wouldn’t be millions of people in error running about the Earth.

Those millions of people are complicated, NOT the doctrine of Faith and Works

I think that Protestants really do accept the fact that God offers salvation for all mankind, and not all men follow Him in salvation. That’s why they’re running about the Earth, trying to save every Catholic from their religion. :stuck_out_tongue:

Yes, my point was that “follow” Him means participating in their salvation. If we are heirs of God, provided we suffer with Him. Follow Him does not mean “faith alone” without works. Neither does it mean these works done out of Faith do not Justify One in Christ.

Actually, He associated himself with man, not the other way around. But this is semantics. :wink:

Yes, that is what I meant.

I thought we were the ones supposed to do the Works?! Hmm?

We are to do good works, but they are the Will of God, which He freely offers us to participate in. By the grace of God, we have faith and the strength to do His good works.

Really!? :eek: You sound more and more protestant. You just described Sola Fide. There are plenty of works to be done, for our own salvation and for the salvation of others.

I certainly do not mind sounding protestant, when protestantism conforms to the Faith of the Church! Protestantism has many things right, you know? Its not all in opposition to Christ. :shrug:

If we love Jesus, we will do His will. There are no set list of works to perform in order to be saved, except to believe and receive His Baptism, as I mentioned as “classic Catholic” belief. Doing good works means being led by the HOLY Spirit.

Didn’t you just say that there is no set of works to be done? So, which one is it? Do we need the Works or not?

The works that the Lord desires is to love one another as He loves us and to belief on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This will produce all sorts of good works!

I suppose you are referring to the Holy Spirit and the Church here. We do not need to confess that which has offended our conscience, but which offended God Almighty, not our puny conscience. If we were to confess only that which bothers the conscience most of us would remain with mortal sins on the soul.
Your faith is a bit protestantized, no offence. There is more, but I think I have said enough. God bless! :tiphat:

If your conscience is not offended by sin, it is not formed by the Holy Spirit. Our conscience is not from ourselves, but God :shrug: The Church Teaches us to examine our conscience, then confess our sins.

I only meant that even if we teach that, we still don’t proclaim so-and-so is in Hell, like some of our Protestant brethren do.

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