faithful catholic but worried about works?

I follow my faith as best as I can. I do sin and I confess when I can and try not to. I consider myself very accepting, very open minded to others and generally nice.

However I hear numerous quotes from the bible expressing works of faith important. I do believe that. And I do good things when presented to me for the most part. I do have my faults like anyone else and falter and I acknowledge that. However I’m 20 years old and I’m in college. I find myself very caught up in my life and my studies as an engineering student (really rigorous) and really busy during the week. After college I know i’ll most likely be working a job 40 hours a week and devote the rest to social mattes or personal hobbies. I do spend sundays at mass and read catholic books every now and then for leisure to grow in my faith. I consider myself an ordinary guy. I go to mass every sunday and that is never a problem (maybe 5 times a year it is for legit reasons)

I am currently active in the local catholic club at my university, I help out when I can, I am not doing it just for works. I like meeting people of the similar faith and values and joining social events.

However,

When I hear numerous quotes especially this one


" When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’ Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life" (Matthew 25:31-46).


I worry I’ll be condemned because I wasn’t able to do such charitable things that much. I have done similar work for the homeless during confirmation class in High School but haven’t really since then. Am I in serious sin by this alone?

I personally don’t think so but I just thought I’d ask to be sure.

Side Note:
*** this also sort of stems into the faith vs. works argument that protestants bring up. **

I can relate to you. I used to worry about my salvation as well. Was I a good enough Christian? Was I doing everything I could?

Then I latched onto the Protestant “once saved, always saved”. I confessed my sins to Christ, asked Him into my heart, and believed that works would be the evidence of my faith. Sometimes they were. Sometimes they were easy to kick under the rug. In no way am I denigrating sincere, Protestant Christians who live their faith every day. That was just me.

I am now back in the Catholic Church. I believe that faith and works are one in the same. I don’t think they can be separated. I still believe, and it’s in the Bible, so I am not being non-Catholic, that one must truly ask Christ into one’s heart. That one must truly be willing to lay down one’s life for Him. That does not just mean dying physically for Him. That means laying down your own will to pick up the cross and follow Him. And remember, He is always there in front of you - when you fall, He hears you. Remember when He could no longer carry His cross? The Father obviously provided Him with someone who could for a while.

While you’re looking at parables, I cannot remember verse and chapter, but in the Old Testament, the scripture says that God will not crush a bruised reed. He will not snuff out a smoldering wick. So often we are that way. But God is merciful and does not smack us down each time we get a bit off the rails. We have to really walk away from Him. It can be gradual or sudden, but there has to be a decision to live one’s own life as one’s own life, when it is not one’s own life but God’s.

If you look at the parables, all of them, you will realize that it is very difficult to walk away from God. And that is what it takes. Paul says that nothing can separate us from the love of God. David, in the psalms, talks about how he can go nowhere without God being there.

Take the Lost Sheep, Lost Coin and Lost Son. With the lost sheep, the shepherd literally takes his life into his hands when going out to find him. To this day, the Palestinian countryside is a dangerous place to walk (not just because of the fighting) but the rocky terrain. It is easy for one to lose one’s footing and fall and die. So that is what the shepherd risks. And in the end, he finds the sheep.

The woman tears her house apart for that one coin.

In the lost son, I think God working to get the boy back is even more evident. The kid takes off, leaves his dad, lives a life of debauchery and forgets anything of whom he really is (the son of his father). Then the famine takes place and he ends up, a good Jewish boy, doing what a Jew would never do, feeding pigs, a non-kosher animal. This brings him to his senses, or to himself as some Bibles translate. He remembers his father. His reasons for going back don’t even seem to be motivated for love of his father as much as getting out of the situation he is in. But of course, dad takes him back.

I know that the father in the story represents our heavenly Father. But maybe I am reading more into this than I should. But Who caused or allowed the famine? Who allowed the boy to get to the point where he was feeding an unclean animal? Who allowed the circumstances to happen to bring the boy to his senses? God allows things to happen in our lives, or directly causes them, and the difference is not something I in my human mind can understand or explain, but He brings us back. If we have made that ultimate decision of walking away from Him, these 3 parables show that yes, it is possible, but God will do just about anything to “bring you to your senses”.

The parable you quoted is a scary one. Are we doing enough for the poor, the prisoner, etc? And if we are, why are we doing it?

I honestly believe if we are trying to work our way into heaven, then we’re going to a lot of worry and trouble that we do not need. We are saved by grace through faith and works. If we have the faith, the works are there. When we truly love God and have received His grace through the sacrifice of Christ, we do because we love.

A priest once advised me to pray for the grace to love God more and more each day so that sin would become more of an abomination to me, that I would act in accordance with His will not so much to please Him, but because it pleased Him. Maybe you can do the same?

Has this helped? Pls let me know. I used to dread hellfire constantly as a kid. I am not saying that at times I don’t still feel some fear. But mostly I am comfortable in Christ. I know that when I walk away, He will do everything to get me back - everything but actually take away my self will. He does allow us that. But look what He did to the lost son! He starved and shamed him out! So what more would he do for you when you are trying to serve Him?

God bless.

No one can earn heaven. That was done soley through the suffering, death and resurrection of our Lord. Heaven was then opened and mankind was redeemed. BUT Jesus does exhort us to emulate His love for others. So, does that mean that we must carry around a checklist of all of the good things that we must accomplish and the more the better? No. It means that in your everyday life that you described you will find those in need and provide or those who are sad and comfort etc… Unless you are a missionary you will be taking on a lifestyle that will limit your time. BUT in all of your time you should ask yourself, “Is what I am doing, how I am acting, how I am thinking, or what I am saying something that Christ would do, think, or say?”

Bring Christ to others by your example and love. Let others see Christ in you and in the end Christ will see Himself in you and welcome you into His kingdom…God Bless…teachccd :slight_smile:

What in your mind is the most important thing you can do for all of these (mentioned in Matthew) people. Is feeding them more important than praying for them? I ask this because “doing” is often thought of as a physical act, feeding the poor, nursing the sick, visiting those in prison. Isn’t their eternal soul more important? I’m not saying we shouldn’t take care of their physical needs, just that their eternal soul is much more important. So, do physical acts if you’re able, (God knows you’re busy in college) if you’re not able to do physical acts, pray. Certainly you have time for that! As you pray, and allow Him into your life more, you’ll find your time will be more meaningful when serving Him. Prayer will you into a closer relationship. So pray constantly! Talk to God, He’s listening.

Matt 25:14-30

"It will be as when a man who was going on a journey called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them. 15 To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one–to each according to his ability. Then he went away. Immediately 16 the one who received five talents went and traded with them, and made another five. 17 Likewise, the one who received two made another two. 18 But the man who received one went off and dug a hole in the ground and buried his master’s money.

19 After a long time the master of those servants came back and settled accounts with them. 20 The one who had received five talents came forward bringing the additional five. He said, ‘Master, you gave me five talents. See, I have made five more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.’

22 (Then) the one who had received two talents also came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two talents. See, I have made two more.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.’

24 Then the one who had received the one talent came forward and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a demanding person, harvesting where you did not plant and gathering where you did not scatter; 25 so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground. Here it is back.’ 26 His master said to him in reply, 'You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I did not plant and gather where I did not scatter? 27 Should you not then have put my money in the bank so that I could have got it back with interest on my return? 28 Now then! Take the talent from him and give it to the one with ten.

29 For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’

Note that not all are given the same number of “talents”. What’s important is “quality”, not quantity. Or, in other words, it is necessary to be faithful to what God puts before us, not to “do as many good things as one has the time for”, so to say.

This having been said, though, it’s easy to get very comfortable with the lives we lead and to think that the way things are is “just fine”, when in fact, God is calling us to something deeper that often involves doing “more”. So…Keep in mind the truth of what’s in the first paragraph but also be careful not to fall into a routine of complacency. (Note how the last man was only given a single talent to do something with and was punished for “sitting comfortably” on it.)

Peace,

SK

You shouldn’t worry like that. That is not an exhaustive list of good works, and even those listed have variations to them. Also it is not a “check list” in that if you miss one you fail.

I believe that those opportunities will present themself to you as you continue through life, and especially as you grow spiritually, if you are worried you should pray that God gives you those opportunities.
Heb 13: 2Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.

Thanks guys these are all really good answers. Most of your replies is what I mostly thought but I’ve never talked about it or discussed it so I wasn’t sure.

I skimmed, but did not read all the responses, so hope I don’t repeat something.

The fact that you are concerned with your salvation is healthy, just do not let it lead you into despair.
Keep in mind the quote Luke 17:10

"So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, `We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.’ "

So that we may someday hear our Lord Proclaim:

Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ (Matt 25:23)

We all do as we are able in Love Hope and Joy, Yet are all sure we have fallen short due to our limitations, inadequacy, and sins. In this lies the balance of faith and Hope in Our Blessed Lord, against our own helplessness to feel truly worthy.
If you ever feel you’ve done enough, you risk the sin of Pride.
If you ever feel the effort is pointless, you risk the sin of Despair.
So you see, actually you are spiritually in a quite healthy place.
Keep praying for God’s will in your Life. He will guide you.

Peace
James

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.