Why are these boards not filled with dread?


The Roman Catholic church teaches that salvation is achieved on the basis of God’s grace plus works that have been infused with that grace. We can make the choice to throw off that infused grace or fight against that infused grace to the detriment of our souls.

Further, according to the RC church, this fight and/or throwing off of God’s grace can take many forms…so many, in fact, that we must work to keep his grace without ever really knowing if we’ve done enough to keep it. The only way to find out will be at death.

While Luther may be drug through the wringer by RC theologians for many things, his torment over faith/works is quite understandable. Let no RC theologian say he puts his head on his pillow at night with no dread…we aren’t talking about car trouble…we’re not even talking about cancer. We’re talking about every second of our lives being on the brink of eternity and NEVER knowing how we stand in God’s sight. And how CAN I know? With lists of mortal sins, the knowledge that even my service to God and neighbor is tainted with sinful intentions and all the caveats of life, there IS no way to know!

So why are these boards filled with no dread? We are living each hour, awaiting the final verdict of our souls before a holy, utterly righteous God. This is not occasion for peace.


Hi Joel,

Let’s get some perspective here. With all the faith-filled saints in the Church, you choose to identify with Luther’s obsession with dread? Luther believed that human beings were basically corrupt and compared the gift of grace to snow covering dung. This is NOT what we believe as Catholics. WE believe that original sin left us weak, but still basically good. Jesus did not suffer and die for dung! He considered us worth suffering and dieing for because He made us worth suffering and dieing for.

If our hope were only in ourselves, we might have good reason to be uneasy about our salvation. But happily, our hope is in the Lord’s abundant love for us. When St. Peter began to walk on water, so long as he kept his eyes on the Lord, he was successful. But the moment he turned his attention to the storm, he began to sink. There aren’t enough minutes in the day to consider all that can go wrong and how weak we are. One cannot be totally centered on God and totally centered on the problematic. One of them must prevail. We were created to be centered on the Lord and not on ourselves. Hasn’t the Lord given us abundant reason to trust in His love for us? To trust is an act of love. There can be no love without it. We were created to express our love for Him by our trust.

Every second of our lives we are NOT on the brink. The greatest spiritual cancer one can have is to deny the Lord’s love for us. These boards are not filled with dread because Jesus is our hope. And that is enough for us!

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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