How Exactly Am I Saved


According to Roman Catholic theology, based on Scripture and Tradition, how am I saved? After 62 years as a Catholic, I finally realized that no one ever taught me this–I learned lots of accidentals, but never the essentials, the basics.

Salvation is a free gift from God, as is Faith and accepting Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior, the Son of God. I was baptised and confirmed in order to make a public and sacramental declaration of this. Thus, I became a member of the mystical body of Christ and one of the Redeemed. But, I know Catholics do not find “imputed righteousness” in Scripture; in other words, when I accept Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior, I don’t just get Jesus’ righteousness relieving me of any personal responsibility and action on my part to be saved, even if I can never ever do anything personally to make up for my sins against an infinitely just God.

Faith without works is dead, so I pitifully do some works. Faith and works open me up to receive Grace (divine life?), which is also a gift from God, won by Christ and transmitted by the Holy Spirit as He wills and by Him also through the Sacraments according to my capacity and willingness to receive Grace; thus, the need for “my works” to open me up to receive Grace, or as Mother Angelica used to say (paraphrase): “The Holy Spirit can’t pour a pail of grace into you if you are only the size of a coffee cup.”

So, Faith gets the ball rolling, Works disposes me to receive Grace, and it’s Grace that saves me? (“O Saving Grace, how sweet…”), and everything is God’s free gift.

Am I on the right track, or is there more to it? Just a cradle Catholic still wondering. Thank you.


This is the defining teaching of the Catholic Church on salvation, in the sense that before Trent there was a legitimate diversity of views on justification that had to give way in light of the council to these definitions.

Note, starting in Chapter V, that it is grace that "gets the ball rolling, and the key difference between Catholic and Protestant accounts of salvation is that we believe one must freely cooperate with God’s grace in order to have faith and be saved.

Read it through and then feel free to ask more specific questions, which many posters should be able to answer.


There are two heresies to avoid. The first states that all that is important is to be a “good person” and baptism, communion, even funerals are, at best, useful on in so far as they might encourage people to be good. The second states that having received baptism, or “accepted Jesus into your life”, or been born again, nothing else is required. God does all the rest.

Both of these views, though opposite, have something going for them. It is possible to be a mainly active saint, like John Bosco, or a mainly contemplative one, like Terese of Liseux. However it is not possible to totally reject sacraments and prayer, or good works, and still be a good Catholic, nor is it right to disapprove of those whose spiritual path is more weighted to the other side than your own calling happens to be.


Michael, you might find this article helpful:


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