Initial justification vs. initial sanctification


In Catholic theology, which comes first, initial justification or inititial sanctification. Is it possible to occur at the same time?
any references?



Hi, I wonder why you use the distinction which is one sometimes used in the discussion regarding “is one saved by faith alone, or by faith and good works”. If so,

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. Phil 2:12-13.
We are **redeemed by Jesus **and become part of the Body of Christ at Baptism.

Sanctification, to be made holy…sanctity is another word for holiness. We are holy in that we are created in the image of God. We are often not holy in our actions, which often in large or small ways is lacking in charity. We become holy by cooperating with God’s grace in fulfilling the command to love God above all and others as ourselves.

Are you groping for an answer to non-Catholic Christians regarding salvation by faith alone, or salvation by faith and good works?



Justification, and sanctification: ie being made
Faith and good works

"Take the case, my brothers of someone who has never done a single good act but claims that he has faith. Will that faith save him? If one of the brothers or one of the sisters is in need of clothes and has not enough food to live on, and one of you says to them, ‘I wish you well; keep yourself warm and eat plenty’, without giving them these bare necessities of llife, then what good is that?: if good works do not go with it, it is quite dead.

This is the way to talk to people of that kind:'You say you have faith and I have good deeds; I will prove to you that I have faith by showing you my good deeds–now you prove to me that you have faith without any good deeds to show.

You believe in one God–that is creditable enough, but the demons have the same belief, and they tremble with fear. Do realise, you senseless man, that faith without works is useless. You surely know that Abraham our Father was justified by his deed, because he offered Isaac on the altar? There you see it; faith and good deeds were working together; his faith became perfect by what he did This is what scripture really means when it says: Abraham put his faith in God, and this was counted as making him justified; and that is why he was called the friend of God
You see now that it is by doing something good, and not only by believing, that a man is justified." [James 2: 14-24]

"The True Disciple
"Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and not do what I say?
Everyone who comes to me and listens to my words and acts on them–I will show you what he is like. He is like a man who when he builds his house dug deeply, and laid the foundations on rock; when the river was in flood it bore down on that house but could not shake it, it was so well built.
But the one who listens but does nothing is like the man who built his house on soil, with no foundations; as soon as the river bore down on it, it collapsed; and what a ruin that house became Luke 6:46-49]

Warm regards, Trishie

If I’ve not answered your question I sure someone will ! :slight_smile:


Hi trishie,

"Are you groping for an answer to non-Catholic Christians regarding salvation by faith alone, or salvation by faith and good works? "


I am a Catholic in dialogue with a non-Catholic protestant. He is of the Wesalyn tradition and claims to be arminian. through our conversation, i have found that he agrees with many aspects of Catholic theology with regards to salvation (ie purgatory). i am actually surprised by how much! he rejects a lot of the typical reformed thoughts on salvation. he is not sure and still trying to figure out how works figure in.

one of his sticking points is that he feels that Scripture teaches “that God justifies us while we were sinners (and not after we are sanctified, not even a little bit)”

I am not really sure what he means. My understanding of Catholic theology is that justification is so closely linked to sanctification that i have a hard time separating the two chronologically. admittedly, i have never really thought about the question.

i would appreciate any help? any references from the catechism?

thanks again


The scripture texts in my earlier post, asr some of those which deal with his concerns redardin faith and good works. There are others…
Back to your question…

I have the Catechism of the Catholic Church with the imprimi potest of the pope when Cardinal open beside me. I could scan the appropriate pages and send it io you if you have a safe address for me to send it…but perhaps the following will be enough to make your friend know he’s more Catholic than he knows!

Article 1991 includes the following, “Justification is conferred in Baptism, the Sacrament of faith. It conforms us to the righteousness of God who makes us inwardly just by the power of His mercy. Its purpose is the glory of God and of Christ, and the gift of eternal life” The Council Of Trent, 1547 DS 1529

1989 “Justification is not only the remission of sins, but also the sanctification and renewal of the interior man” The Council Of Trent, 1547 DS 1528

Artical 1993 “Justification establishes cooperation between God’s grace and man’s freedom. On man’s part it is expressed by the asent of faith to the Word of God, which invites him to conversion, and in the cooperation of charity with the prompting of the Holy Spirit who precedes and preserves his assent…”

1996 “Our justification comes from the grace of God. Grace is favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to His call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life.”


One is justified/sanctified by baptism, so yes there are justified(God makes them just) and “sanctified.” In Catholic theology there is not the distinction between justification and sanctification(as there are in Protestant churches).

To answer the initial question, yes Once a baby(or an adult who is properly disposed) is baptized they are justified/sanctified. The theological virtues(faith, hope, charity) are infused in their soul. The baby becomes holy, a son of God. One saint even remarked (I forget his name) that one should geneuflect to the baby they are so holy. I don’t know whether we should follow that example, but I think you get the point.


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