Saved by work

Are we sanctified by carrying out our normal duties?

In a retreat recently I discussed with the priest the relationship between Opus Dei and Pelagianism. Unfortunately we seemed to disagree. Are we sanctified by carrying out our normal duties? The priest emphasized that with effort we can grow in God’s love, with this I disagreed. Were his views Catholic teaching? It seemed strange to me, as grace seems to be ignored in his views about living the Christian life, and looking on the web I can get little help.

Do others see my problem?

Are we made acceptable to God by doing our daily work? I try to avoid terms such as righteousness and justification as these may carry unacceptable meanings.

Please help.

You are certainly not saved by works: “By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:” (Ephesians 2:8)

Works can be a sign of salvation but do not save you in themselves. For instance the Compendium of the Catechism states “Faith is the supernatural virtue which is necessary for salvation. It is a free gift of God and is accessible to all who humbly seek it. The act of faith is a human act, that is, an act of the intellect of a person - prompted by the will moved by God - who freely assents to divine truth. Faith is also certain because it is founded on the Word of God; it works “through charity” (Galatians 5:6); and it continually grows through listening to the Word of God and through prayer. It is, even now, a foretaste of the joys of heaven.” (Para 28).

We cannot save ourselves because it requires a supernatural gift. We cannot even make the first move towards God without the gift of the actual graces of God. The dogma is that we have free will and that God’s grace given is sufficient, but it may not be efficacious because we choose not to cooperate with it.

*]“Without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5)
*]“It is God who worketh in you, both to will and to accomplish, according to His good will” (Phil. 2:13)
*]“What hast thou that thou hast not received?” (I Cor. 4:7)

Matthew 7:21-23 The True Disciple.
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven,a] but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’ 23 Then I will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you.**(“”)] Depart from me, you evildoers.’

Im not sure on that…if a person has the ability to drive out demons on earth, yet for some reason, would not be welcome in heaven, how would they have been able to drive out the demons in the first place?

To do this, it takes extreme faith and still only certain people can successfully do this, so…?

Haydock commentary is that prophecy and doing miracles may granted to bad men.

Ver. 22. Have not we prophesied in thy name? The gift of prophecy, and of doing miracles, may sometimes be granted to bad men, as to Caiphas, and Balaam. (Witham)
— Under the name of prophets, the Hebrews comprised not only such as predicted future events, but also in general all such as gave themselves out for inspired, or who undertook teaching and interpreting the holy Scriptures; and here by prophesying is understood, in a general acceptation, all public functions, predicting futurity, expounding Scripture, instructing the people, preaching, &c. (Bible de Vence)

In a retreat recently I discussed with the priest the relationship between Opus Dei and Pelagianism. Unfortunately we seemed to disagree. Are we sanctified by carrying out our normal duties?

Hello NoelFitz.

Catholics are NOT Pelagianists.

Yet we ARE sanctified by our daily duties.

How can this be?

The key to harmonizing what your priest said and what you have been taught is complex.

The Council of Trent (here) puts this concept as: **“He that is just, let him be justified still” **(quoting the Book of Revelation).


Having, therefore, been thus justified and made the friends and domestics of God, advancing from virtue to virtue, they are renewed, as the Apostle says, day by day, that is, mortifying the members of their flesh, and presenting them as instruments of justice unto sanctification, they, through the observance of the commandments of God and of the Church, faith cooperating with good works, increase in that justice received through the grace of Christ and are further justified, as it is written:

He that is just, let him be justified still; and, Be not afraid to be justified even to death; and again, Do you see that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only?

This increase of justice holy Church asks for when she prays:
“Give unto us, O Lord, an increase of faith, hope and charity.”

Another key to seeing all of this is seeing your good works as a GRACE (for those IN Christ Jesus). St. Augustine puts it this way . . .

You are glorified in the assembly of your Holy Ones, for in crowning their merits you are crowning your own gifts. (As quoted just above section 2006 in the CCC).

Does this make sense NoelFitz?

God bless.


Casting out demons has nothing to do with the ability of the person, it is God who works through the person to carry out such acts. It is not the individual who is achieving this, it is God.

God’s plan for salvation includes using all sorts of people to carry out His plan, good people, bad people and people in between. The Bible is full of examples of God using seemingly evil men to carry out His plan for salvation.

Well Neofitz,

We here , as catholics and including priests and everybody else, are going to have to come to some decision as to whether we save ourselves or if Jesus saves us.

It’s becoming quite clear to me that some kind of line is being drawn.

Last evening I was at a new bible study with the new Monsignor down at church. He started with Mathew - go figure, the same book I start lessons with. What did he stress? That Mathew was writing for the Jews. To show that Jesus is the awaited for Messiah. Mathew is broken up into 5 books, like the Torah. Mathew is going to TRY to get the Jews from Moses to Jesus.

You’ll recall that many times in the book of Mathew Jesus says:
You Have Heard It Said… referring to the Law
But I Tell You … referring to HIS grace.

The Monsignor said some would be scandalized and if they thinkt hey will be, they should just leave. He said it’ll be a difficult understanding for many.

Well, I’ve taught the covenants and understand well the difference between the Mosaic and the New Covenant. I do think we all need to understand it more.

I think we need to get out of the Mosaic and into the New.

It also bothers me how you’ll ask two different priests the same question and get two different answers. What gives? Because their take on this question is different. Because one might believe it sounds like a license to sin. I like to follow the bible and the CCC - when I can understand it, and it’s not because I don’t understand English or my faith.

So here’s the story:

When you’re baptized you are jusified and sanctified. Justification is God’s forgiveness, acceptance of you into His family and the removal of O.S.

Sanctification is an ongoing process whereby the H.S. works in your life to make you become ever a greater christian. This is achieved by God’s grace, which is unknowable because it is so great, and also your cooperation in bringing about good works. God is not going to force you to do good works.

Grace is the only way we could live out our christian lives.

Good works alone will not sanctify you - they don’t have the power to. Only God justifies, sanctifies and Glorifies. At the end of your life, you will be glorified upon entering Heaven.

Is this difficult?? No, really.

Using the name of Jesus is not enough.

You have to be a disciple of Jesus and FOLLOW Him. BELIEVE Him. HEAR Him.

Find out what these words mean in Greek.

There is DIGNITY in work, by it we sanctify
our existence, and we should put on gratitude
IN work, so that it will be acceptable to God.
See Hebrews 12:28

Some will be right and some will be wrong. Truth cannot contradict truth. As lay-people it is also our duty to educate ourselves on what the Church teaches through reading the Catechism and Church documents.

Yes. Well, we’ve been here before Brendan 64, and this is why I’m counting on the Lord Jesus Christ and not anything Augustine or Anselm said.

I do rely on the CCC and I do rely on the bible which is the Word of God.

When I get before God He’s going to want to know how I UNDERSTOOD things to be, not how Fr. Smith understood things that I was able to grasp.

This is a concept that I find people here do not understand. It seems easy enough for me. What happens when Augustine and Acquinas disagree? I may even be wrong, but at least it’s what I believe.

BTW, I don’t think I’m wrong. How much education do I need anyway? I know some ladies up in these little towns that know NOTHING of scripture, theology or church documents. They’re living their faith. They have a simple understanding of it. I admire them for this. Seems like Jesus made it simple. Seems He was upset with the pharisees that made it difficult.

Did you read the rest of Hebrews? WHO is your high priest?

And interesting you should bring up Hebrews 12:28
Practically all of chapter 12 is trying to show the difference between the law and grace.
Try 12:23, 24, 25

Also 13 to 15. We are to pursue righteousness and sanctification with the grace of God so as not to be a godless person like Esau. But we are not a godless people - we are trusting in our High Priest.

But ultimately it is not about what you believe to be true, I believe to be true, or anyone else believes to be true. Truth cannot contradict truth, and that is why we have the Catholic Church. The Church cannot err on issues of faith and morals, and if we believe something other than what our Church teaches the we are wrong, no matter how firmly we believe it to be so, we are wrong.

And yes, individual priests may contradict one another (which means that at least one of them is wrong) but Church teaching does not contradict itself. The Bible alone is not enough, one person’s interpretation can contradict another’s interpretation, which is why there are literally thousands of Protestant communities and individuals believing their own interpretation of the Bible. In order to read the Bible properly we ought to have the Bible in one hand and the Catechism in the other, so that we may read Scripture with a correct interpretation (i.e. how the Church interprets it).

If we go down the route of, “I have my Bible, my conscience, and the Holy Spirit to guide me,” then we don’t need the Church. The Church predates the Bible (Christ formed a Church, he didn’t come to write a book) and in order to have a correct interpretation of the Bible we have the teachings of the Church, summarised in the Catechism. If our own interpretation differs from how the Church interprets Scripture, then our own interpretation is wrong, no matter how firmly we believe it.

Without knowing these ladies, I would bet that they would accept all of what the Church teaches, out of obedience. How often would you find any of them saying, “Well the Church may officially teach this, but I disagree with that, and I believe that I am right”?

GK Chesterton once said words along the lines of, being Catholic is to have the humility to accept that the Church knows better than you do.

You’re not going to believe this, but I was on my way to the computer to add something to my last post, when yours came in.

I was over in the kitchen cooking (lunchtime here) and was thinking about St. Teresa of Avila and St. DeSales. I’m not saying I don’t respect these people. I’ve studied them and their spirituality is scary and mystical. I’ll never be 1/50 of where they are.

What I’m saying is that i can’t trust THEM for my SALVATION. I have to trust on the one who offered it to me.

Will read you post later, but caught re the truth. WHAT IS THE TRUTH?

Pilot asked Jesus What Is The Truth.

Pilot was staring straight at it.


And that is why Christ formed the Church, to communicate His Truth to us. It is through the Church that Truth is communicated, not through our own personal interpretations of Scripture, but through how the Church interprets Scripture, and through understandings of divine these Truths as taught by our Church. The Church is not a man-made entity, the Church is the bride of Christ, established by Christ Himself, in order to accurately communicated his Teaching to us.

To separate the Church from His Church, is to separate a man and his wife, it cannot be done. To reject what the Church teaches, or to disagree with the Church’s interpretation, is to reject and disagree with Christ Himself.

To hold our own interpretations of Christ’s message, at odds with how the Church interprets it, is to create our own false teachings.

I am grateful for all the replies I have received.

My position is clear. We cannot grow in God’s love by our own efforts. We are not sanctified by carrying out our normal duties. Did the priest, a long-time member of Opus Dei, misinterpret OD teaching, or did I misinterpret what the priest actually said? However is OD teaching different from Catholic belief?

What a pupil claims a teacher said, and what the teacher actually said, may differ, so I may not be fully correct in what I report.

Approximately four replies claim we are not justified by works (using Reformation language), two disagree with this, while the remaining replies were off-topic.

The discussion between Brendan 64 and frangiuliano115 is interesting, but is not relevant to my concerns. The authority of the Church to teach is an interesting question, but is not the focus of my thread.

So could I ask again for clear replies to my original queries?

Thanks and regards.

The authority of the Church is very relevant to your question.The following are from the Council of Trent Canons on Justification.

“If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema,” (Canon 9).

“If any one saith, that man is truly absolved from his sins and justified, because he assuredly believed himself absolved and justified; or, that no one is truly justified but he who believes himself justified; and that, by this faith alone, absolution and justification are effected; let him be anathema,” (Canon 14).

Our Church teaches that justification is not through faith alone. We need to cooperate through our actions in order to obtain the grace of justification. If our Church teaches this then it is truth, regardless of whether someone agrees with it or not.

Opus Dei is a Catholic branch (can’t think of the word right now). Why would its teaching be any different than catholic teaching? Its members might live their faith in a different, or even fuller way, but the teachings are the same.

Your question would require that someone from O.D. post.

Here’s what I got from Wikipedia:

Opus Dei has been described as the most controversial force within the Catholic Church.[8] According to several journalists who researched Opus Dei separately, many criticisms against Opus Dei are based on fabrications by opponents,[8][12][13][14][15] and Opus Dei is considered a sign of contradiction.[14][16] Several popes and other Catholic leaders have endorsed what they see as its innovative teaching on the sanctifying value of work, and its fidelity to Catholic beliefs.[17][18] In 2002, Pope John Paul II canonized Escrivá, and called him “the saint of ordinary life.”[19]

Criticism of Opus Dei has centered on allegations of secretiveness,[20] controversial recruiting methods, strict rules governing members, elitism and misogyny, and support of or participation in authoritarian or right-wing governments, especially the Francoist Government of Spain until 1978.[21] The mortification of the flesh practiced by some of its members is also criticized. Within the Catholic Church, Opus Dei is also criticized for allegedly seeking independence and more influence.[22]

In recent years, Opus Dei has received international attention due to the novel The Da Vinci Code and its film version of 2006, both of which prominent Christians and non-believers criticized as misleading, inaccurate and anti-Catholic.[23][24][25][26]

I’ve said many times that I don’t really like learning from the ineternet. But if no Opus Dei are willing to post, then you just have to do the best you can.

They believe in work. Holiness and working for sanctification. Now, in a way they’re right. Once you come to know God through faith, works do flow from this faith. Faith without works is dead, as James said in his book.

However, we have to make sure we don’t mistakenly believe that it’s our works that are saving us. First comes faith and then works. So now we’re justified.

Now comes sanctification. This is a lifelong process. If you ask an O.D. person, of course they’re going to tell you that works sanctify you. It’s not wrong. What are you going to do, just sit around the rest of your life and not add anything to the Kingdom of God?

We just have to be careful to understand that God sancitifed us at baptism and when we accepted our faith as adults and this grace is going to give us the strength to continue on in our sanctification - not the other way around.

Sanctification involves transformation. We become more and more like Christ. If they want to believe it’s works that does this, I wouldn’t be very bothered by it. It’s an INTERIOR supernatural change that causes us to want to do these works.

Here’s something from catholic teaching:

  1. Sanctity

The sanctity of the soul, as its first formal operation, is contained in the idea itself of sanctifying grace, inasmuch as the infusion of it makes the subject holy and inaugurates the state or condition of sanctity. So far it is, as to its nature, a physical adornment of the soul; it is also a moral form of sanctification, which of itself makes baptized children just and holy in the sight of God. This first operation is thrown into relief by the fact that the “new man”, created injustice and holiness (Ephesians 4:24), was preceded by the “old man” of sin, and that grace changed the sinner into a saint (Trent, Sess. VI, cap. vii: ex injusto fit justus). The two moments of actual justification, namely the remission of sin and the sanctification, are at the same time moments of habitual justification, and become the formal operations of grace. The mere infusion of the grace effects at once the remission of original and mortal sin, and inaugurates the condition or state of holiness. (See Pohle, Lehrb. der Dogm., 527 sq.)

I think you’re right. Sometimes it’s just misunderstandings - there isn’t enough time to really talk about the subject - we each understand it a bit differently.

Anyway, the teachings are up above.


You’re telling me Jesus didn’t come to write a book!
He came here to show us how to live our lives. I refer to the beautitudes in Mathew 5.
Did I say we don’t need the church? WHERE is the misunderstanding, I’d really like to know.

You should try this:

Clear you mind of all. Read the entire N. T. (except Revelation) and tell me what you come away with?

Are you telling me you can’t trust yourself to understadn what Jesus wants of you??

Why does my proclaiming what our church teaches - that we are saved by faith and works follow - cause such misunderstanding?

If priests disagree on some things, doesn’t this tell you that the official church teaching is not easy to grasp? I agree that we should refer to the CCC and the bible. But you keep posting the council of Trent. A lot has changed Brendan 64.

Let’s cut to the chase. What exactly do I say that you don’t agree with?


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