Hello Niall, if you would be willing to hear a non-RC approach to salvation it will help you. As a Catholic myself who moved on in the faith many years ago, I can totally relate to the feelings of inadequacy and despair. Catholicism itself breads this despair in my view, (though it is denied.)
But the most dangerous part of this issue is when you begin to look upon God Himself as unfair, difficult, judgmental or even dangerous. This is a mistake. Protestants too fight these same kind of feelings. Not all protestants, just the ones who actually embrace a more RC view of salvation.
In your view, you are waiting for a final “justification,” from God where the Lord will say, “… well done good and faithful servant!” But until, or unless you endure until that time, a certain sense of insecurity, and inadequacy creeps in. Got it.
Jesus never spoke of eternal life this way. Read the gospel of John. In that book there are more references to how one receives eternal life than Matthew, Mark and Luke combined. John’s gospel is considered an evangelistic gospel of salvation because of the repetitious expressions of salvation.
Just pay close attention to the simplicity of Christ offer of eternal life. Then pray and ask Him about it.
He is so gratuitous in His offer that many in both Catholic and Protestant circles get angry about it. “It can’t be that simple!” “It can’t be that easy!” Salvation requires your good works to seal the deal!
Many Pius expressions borne out of frustration and condemnation are thrown at anyone who takes Jesus at His clear word. Let me do the homework for you: read John 1:12; 3:15-16; 3:36; 5:24; 6:40, 47; and John 10:28
All of these verses have one common denominator: All of theme require that you “believe” Jesus is the Christ. John 20:31. That is it!.. to believe in who He is! If you already believe He is the Christ, you have already entered eternal life by faith apart from any good works.
Pray and thank Jesus for saving you eternally. Worship Him for saving you eternally. Thank Him for giving you the free gift of eternal life. Then ask Him for His peace that surpasses all understanding to guard your heart.
I guarantee you, the Spirit of the Lord will descend upon you and comfort you, and love on you to an overflow.
Let me know how it works out.