What do Catholics believe about salvation? I have heard that if we are asked that question we are to respond with “we are saved, we are being saved, and hope to be saved” but what does that mean exactly?

That phrase seems to be something that is used to contrast the Catholic view with Christians who believe salvation cannot be lost (i.e. that it is an event that occurred in one’s “past” only when they made a profession of faith). Catholics believe salvation is also a past event (typically at formal baptism), but also ongoing since Catholics recognize sanctification as part of justification–––in lay terms, that means Catholics believe that God transforming us to holiness throughout our lives is part of our salvation. So that part is the present tense “being” saved. And, of course, the future tense refers to final salvation in heaven.

You may also want to check the Catechism paragraphs 1987 and following, or the Council of Trent session 6 on justification. :o

“we are saved, we are being saved, and hope to be saved” but what does that mean exactly?

Lincat. It means our salvation is a moment, followed by a process–a lifelong process.

It is a pre-emptive response because a lot of non-Catholics will reduce salvation down to a moment alone.

That’s why they (some people who asserted this erroneous salvation is a moment ALONE routine) used to give us little “saved” cards that we were to fill in the dates of.

Hope this helps.

God bless.


It is possible to carelessly lose the grace God has given us when we choose to sin mortally.

We need to pray, be vigilant, and be receptive to grace when we receive the sacraments.

Thank the Lord for the sacrament of reconciliation.

Catholics do not believe that once we are “saved” we cannot lose our salvation.

Yes, and of course the importance of recognizing salvation as a future event is to emphasize that we cannot be 100% certain of our eternal destiny until the end of our lives when we meet our Maker and He gives His judgement.

We believe that each soul is judged by God immediately after death (in the particular judgment). Everyone who dies in a state of grace (sanctifying grace; habitual grace) will have eternal life in Heaven, perhaps after a temporary stay in Purgatory. Everyone who died unrepentant from actual mortal sin will be condemned to eternal punishment in Hell.

Pope Pius XII: “Above all, the state of grace is absolutely necessary at the moment of death; without it, salvation and supernatural happiness – the beatific vision of God – are impossible. An act of love is sufficient for the adult to obtain sanctifying grace and to supply the lack of baptism.” (Address to Midwives, n. 21.a.)

Pope Benedict XII: “Moreover we define that according to the general disposition of God, the souls of those who die in actual mortal sin go down into Hell immediately after death and there suffer the pain of Hell.” (Pope Benedict the 12th, On the Beatific Vision of God).

What do Catholics teach about being saved?
**Answer by Fr. John Echert on 09-02-2007 (EWTN): **
You are getting closer to the truth, but I must make further distinctions. The Catholic Church teaches that faith is necessary for salvation but not of itself sufficient. Our Lord Himself commanded that the disciples go forth and baptise the nations, which confers a particular grace of sanctification. This grace of sanctification is necessary for salvation – at least in the case of those who have access to baptism. The good works and repentance which you cite in James are essential, but we say that they proceed from supernatural charity as a motive, and not simply faith. In other words, someone can truly have faith in Christ by which they are drawn to Him and accept Him, but would not necessarily do acts of charity for the motive of faith alone – which is why we typically call them acts of charity, that is, supernatural love.

Everybody was saved by the redemptive act of our Lord Jesus Christ when He died on the Cross for our sins. Each day we make conscientious decisions whether or not to accept his redeeming grace by our actions. Do we choose to continue to live in sin, or do we choose God’s loving forgiveness? Do we choose repentance and and conversion allowing the Holy Spirit into our lives to transform us into who God would have us be?
As has already been stated, salvation is a process in which we are called to continued growth in holiness.
Since the Mass is celebrated outside of time, and commemorates the Sacrifice of the Cross, we are saved each and every time the Mass is celebrated anywhere in the world until the end of time. As Catholics, we join with the Communion of Saints in the celebration of the Mass and the Sacrifice of the Cross. We are constantly being redeemed and saved.

Soteriology defines three stages in salvation in all faiths: justification, sanctification and glorification. This is true of protestants, Catholics, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslim or even Nihilists.

Clear definition:
Justification is the process of making amends to the deity.
Sanctification is the process of becoming complete.
Glorification is the process of being perfected.

Soteriology, like much in the Catholic church must be weeded out because before it was challenged by protestants, the early fathers had no need to separate these parts. The Church simply does not form doctrine until the challenge is presented. It does not mean the doctrine has changed, but that it has been ratified.

For a Catholic:
Justification is by grace through faith. The grace is granted at baptism, and sealed at confirmation. However, you can loose your justification by unrepentant mortal sin, because by doing this, you “crucify Christ again” or “are rejecting the work of Christ on the Cross.” Grace is an efficacious force from God and is God’s gift to those who believe in Him to specifically reject sin. Grace gives you the power to live a sin free life. Mortal sin is a sign of unbelief and must be repented. This is not works, but renewing our faith and thereby fortifying the force of Grace in our lives. Mary, Full of Grace, can help us live this life.

Sanctification is the process of being holy. “You MUST be holy as I am Holy”, declares the Lord of Hosts. Holiness is the process of removing the bad habits of sin. We see these as venial sins in the life of the believer. Paul states, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” James states, “Faith without works is dead.” It is in the process of sanctification where we work. These are our merits presented before God. Things done in the flesh are wood, hay and stubble; things done in the Spirit are gold, silver and precious stones. At the end of our life, these things will be tried by fire (see glorification). However, we are to work at being a holy people, a royal priesthood and fellow heirs of the kingdom. We are to be working for the Kingdom of God.

Sanctification is NOT justification, nor is justification just a fancy word for sanctification. They are and always will be seperate. However, all the holy living apart from justification means nothing. “Did we not cast out demons, did we not prophesy in your name, in your name did we not heal the sick?”, they say. But Jesus says, “Be gone from me, I never KNEW you.”

Glorification occurs after death. We are first purged (purgatory) in the flames of Jesus’s passion for us. These are not harmful or penal flames, these are cleansing flames, so that we are “refined like a smith refines gold” This heat of his passionate holy heart draw all the impurities from our lives to the top for Him to remove. The goal of all of this is to “partake in the divine Godhead.” “May they be in us, as I am in you, and you are in me, that their joy may be full.” At that time we are fully glorified. “Your worst day in purgatory will be better than your best day on earth.” It is not something to desire, but also not something to be feared. “Do not despise the discipline of the Lord. Because those He loves, he disciplines.”

We must be careful using the word salvation in today’s culture. It was clear to Paul and his readers in their day which part he meant. That is not the case today.

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