God's forgiveness and good works


#1

I had a discussion with an evangelical Christian a while ago, who challenged the concept of good works as necessary for God’s forgiveness and said that it was up to God to forgive and our good works cannot affect that. It took me a while to find an appropriate response but I came up with this analogy to explain my personal understanding of this topic but I’m wondering if this is really a good explanation of the church’s official teachings.
In order to be forgiven by God you have to actually be sorry for what you have done. When we sin we do something that God has told us not to. If you imagine that God was just another human being whose rules or requests you had contravened or ignored, because he is somebody that you love you would try to make up for the hurt that your actions caused him. You can’t go back in time and stop the hurt from happening in the first place but you can try to make them feel better in future to make up for the hurt you caused. However, because this is God you can’t head round to his house with a box of chocolates;), so you ask for forgiveness and you do something nice for him that is within your power, something like devoting extra time to talking (praying) to him, or doing something nice for somebody else he loves.
Have I gone off track here and given this woman an inaccurate picture of Catholicism or is this explanation in line with church teachings on confession and forgiveness.


#2

As I understand it, for forgiveness for committing a particular sin, you need a perfect act of contrition. This involves being sorry for what you did wrong and a firm intention not to do it again. As Catholics our normal method of reconciliation is the sacrament of confession which grants us a greater level of certainty that forgiveness was granted. Without sacramental confession, you can’t be sure the act of contrition is perfect. We don’t need to perform any particular work including the assigned penance for the forgiveness to be valid.

For salvation, we need faith working through love. Faith is the cornerstone but it needs to be a faith that manifests works.


#3

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