Understanding the how’s and why’s of the need for our salvation in Christ is essential to our understanding of the truths of the Catholic faith

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by Doug Lawrence

For why did Christ, when as yet we were weak, according to the time, die for the ungodly? For scarce for a just man will one die: yet perhaps for a good man some one would dare to die. But God commendeth his charity (love) towards us: because when as yet we were sinners according to the time. Christ died for us.

Much more therefore, being now justified by his blood, shall we be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son: much more, being reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. (Romans 5:6-10)

Life is a winner-take-all contest,
with one of only two possible outcomes:
Heaven or Hell.

Thanks to the redemptive work of Jesus Christ on the cross at Calvary, we get to freely choose sides. But it is also one of those “negative default” situations. Do nothing and you lose big –
and you may lose, forever!

That’s because – very early in man’s history – due to the deliberate, grave sin of our first parents, who pridefully teamed up with Satan the Devil, against God – the first man traded away his birthright and freedom for a lie – and all of mankind (even children and little babies) became hopelessly and permanently enslaved to Satan, sin and death.

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How can that be? Children of slaves are born into slavery and so are themselves slaves, with only their slavery and Adam’s Original Sin for their inheritance. The Evil One had long ago, successfully usurped virtually everything else!

Hence, every child born of Adam, the first man – and all the children of his descendants – are born tainted by sin, and already, in a very real way, “pledged” to Satan the Devil and subject to his evil dominion of sin, death and Hell.

Without God’s powerful, awesomely creative, loving, merciful, and very timely intervention, things would have remained that way forever – dooming every human being – body and soul – to a decrepit, temporal earthly existence, followed by death – and then an eternity of supernatural bondage and unimaginable suffering, in Hell.

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In the fullness of time, God sent his only begotten son, Jesus Christ, into the world, to redeem us. Incarnate of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Jesus is a perfect and sinless man, in no way subject
to Satan, sin or death.

Having taken on human flesh, as well as a human soul,
Jesus Christ is true man. Yet Jesus never ceased to be God. 

Satan has power only over sinners.
so he had no power or authority at all
over Our Holy Lord, Jesus Christ.
(John 14:27-30)

Even though he had been warned (see Genesis 3:15) Satan plotted to do his worst, enlisting his minions to put Jesus on trial and wrongfully convict him of blasphemy and sedition, leading shortly to Jesus’ crucifixion and death, which was followed three days hence by his glorious and totally unprecedented resurrection from the dead – proving that Jesus is God, just as he claimed – and that he does indeed have power over Satan, death and Hell.

God permitted all of this, as part of his plan for our salvation:

Ye men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him, in the midst of you, as you also know: This same being delivered up, by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, you by the hands of wicked men have crucified and slain. Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the sorrows of hell, as it was impossible that he should be holden by it. (Acts 2:22-24)

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As Satan had absolutely no right to disturb so much as a hair on Jesus’ head, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ became Satan’s ultimate undoing. Satan’s earthly power and dominion was destroyed and virtually all that Satan had earlier gained by Adam’s Fall was forfeit.

Today, Satan is still permitted to wander the earth, but is allowed to recruit “fresh” minions only by default (Original Sin and concupiscence, along with the deliberate and willful rejection of the Gospel) and through the vain deceits of the world and the flesh (this should be self-explanatory). But thanks to the saving work of Jesus Christ, Satan’s time of virtually unrestrained power and near total dominion has long been officially over!

For our part, Jesus’ flawless obedience to his Father’s will – as a man – even unto death on the cross – served as the perfect atoning sacrifice for the disobedience, pride and sins of all mankind.

Through Jesus Christ, God the Father supplied what fallen mankind could not (Genesis 22:8) in order to reconcile Heaven and Earth and declare the Divine Peace.

The risen Christ also became the official new and sinless head of all mankind – offering grace, peace, reconciliation and eternal life to all who would reject Satan and his works – and swear faithful allegiance to the Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

This would typically be accomplished through the Sacrament of Baptism, which would also entail, among many other good things, full and faithful membership in the universal (Catholic) Church, which Jesus personally founded, for the purpose of our salvation –  and for the salvation of future generations, yet to come.

A word about sacraments:

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Sacraments are defined as Christ-instituted, outward signs of a certain spiritual reality: divine grace being infused directly into a human soul. Since each of the sacraments was personally instituted by Jesus Christ, each sacrament constitutes nothing less than an intimate, personal encounter with Almighty God.

For those seeking a “relationship” with God – this is the ultimate and absolute best way to do it – personally recommended by none other than our Holy Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

There are seven sacraments – each intended to provide whatever is spiritually necessary for every faithful Catholic, at various stages of human existence. In no particular order, they are: (1) Baptism, (2) Reconciliation, (3) Holy Eucharist, (4) Confirmation, (5) Holy Orders, (6) Matrimony and (7) Anointing of the Sick.

These grace-giving sacraments are administered by the Catholic Church, which is the God-designated, primary earthly ministry of his divine grace – primarily through the work of duly ordained bishops and priests – the men who constitute the ranks of the Catholic Ministerial Priesthood.

The only exception to this is the sacrament of baptism, which can be administered by just about anyone, with due concern for proper form, matter and intention, of course.

A word about the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass:

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The Holy Mass makes present for us, in this time and this age, the one time, once for all, perfect and atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, at Calvary.

When Jesus Christ – body, blood, soul and divinity – under the appearance of ordinary bread and wine – becomes truly present for us on the altar – we are wonderfully empowered to collectively and personally offer Jesus up to God the Father – for our sins and the sins of the whole world.

Presented with this totally acceptable, holy and spotless sacrifice, Our Father in Heaven is always pleased, so he responds in love, and all graces flow.

Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist is the source and summit of all Catholic worship – and the Holy Mass – centered on Jesus Christ – acts to constantly replenish the “well” of supernatural grace – obtained for us by the sufferings of Christ –  which is regularly poured out on behalf of sinners – much as Jesus’ precious blood was poured out for many, some twenty centuries ago, so that sins could be forgiven and the world might be redeemed and reconciled.

The next time you’re at Mass, pay particular attention the words leading up to the “Great Amen”. That’s the “sweet spot”. Of course, personally receiving Jesus Christ, in the Holy Eucharist, is also pretty sweet!

Fulfilling an ancient Bible prophecy:

For most of the last two thousand years, a Holy Mass has been celebrated for the glory of God and for the salvation of souls, in many nations, all around the world – every hour of every day – every day of every year – 24/7 & 365.

For from the rising of the sun even to the going down, my name is great among the Gentiles, and in every place there is sacrifice, and there is offered to my name a perfect offering: for my name is great among the Gentiles, saith the Lord of hosts. (Malachi 1:11)

Jesus IS the perfect and eternal sacrifice for the sins of the world. Wherever Jesus is, his atoning sacrifice is also truly present. That’s why we can truly say that the Holy Mass IS a genuine sacrifice – with Jesus Christ presiding as  perfect victim, High Priest, Savior, God and King.

If we Catholics attempted to worship God in any other way, offering a sacrifice other than Jesus Christ, our Holy Redeemer – we would probably be wasting our time – and his!  That’s why Catholics remain obligated to attend Holy Mass every Sunday – and on designated Holy Days. 

Saint Paul reminds us, in the words of Jesus Christ, that God’s grace is sufficient:

And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.

Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.  (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

Saint Paul also reminds us:

Therefore as by the offence of one [judgment came] upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one [the free gift came] upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 5:18-21)

Forty Days after his glorious resurrection from the dead, Jesus ascended back to Heaven, where he was enthroned – body and spirit – at the right hand of God the Father – as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. (1 Tim 6:15, Rev 17:14, Rev 19:16)

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Doing so, Jesus made permanent and eternal all that he had accomplished for us during his earthly existence. There was no going back, nor could there ever be any chance of another human Fall From Grace! The battle between good and evil had been definitively won by Jesus Christ – and it was all over, except for the fighting!

O death, where [is] thy sting? O grave, where [is] thy victory? The sting of death [is] sin; and the strength of sin [is] the law. But thanks [be] to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, for as much as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. (1 Corinthians 15:55-58)

By divine mandate and through his supernatural protection, Jesus empowered his Holy Church to remain behind on earth – supernaturally preserved from destruction – serving as his primary channel of divine grace – for us – and for all the souls yet to be born.

And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.  (Matthew 16:18-19)

Grace is a totally gratuitous (absolutely free) gift from Almighty God – a share in his own divine life – obtained for us by Jesus Christ, on the cross at Calvary, at great personal cost – yet offered to us freely, in the spirit of love and eternal friendship, so that we might choose to cast off the shackles of eternal death and claim our rightful inheritance with God in Heaven, as adopted sons and daughters.

As a result of all this, Christians are justified before God (credited with righteousness – see Genesis 15:3-6) through faith in Jesus Christ.

Faith itself is a positive response to God’s grace and his call. (John 6:44)

Sanctification (becoming holy) is also a critical function of God’s grace – since God is holy and no one/nothing less than holy can live up to Heavenly standards. (Leviticus 11:45)

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The primary manifestation of our willing acceptance of God’s grace and our voluntary cooperation with his will is the Cardinal Virtue known as Faith, which is typically accompanied by two other Cardinal Virtues: Hope And Charity (Love).

Once a Christian is initially justified and sanctified before God through grace and Faith, the order of priority typically reverses – with Charity moving to the front – leaving  Hope solidly in the middle, and Faith acting as a  bulwark, keeping everything rightly ordered, balanced and in its’ proper place.

For baptized, faithful Christians, it works pretty much like this:

Love God. Love your neighbor. This is Practical Charity.

Love works no ill to his neighbor:
therefore love [is] the fulfilling of the law. (Romans 13:10)

Responding to God’s grace, through Love
we keep all God’s Commandments.

Giving freely of ourselves in Faith,
while constantly striving to cooperate with his grace,
we Hope to merit eternal life. 

All should take note

… without faith [it is] impossible to please God: for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and [that] he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.  (Hebrews 11:6)

Hebrews 11:1-40 is probably the greatest litany of faith ever written. Look it up and read it for yourself.

A constant teaching of the Catholic Church, from the earliest days, is: Outside the Church There Is No Salvation. That’s because full, faithful and active membership in the Catholic Church is the divinely-designated, Christ-instituted, “ordinary” means of obtaining  the necessary measure of God’s saving grace, for all those alive here on earth.

When God gives us a gift, he expects us to use it, in the spirit in which it was given. Jesus Christ instituted the Catholic Church for the purpose of our salvation – for the care of souls – for the common good of all mankind – for teaching, sanctifying and rightly governing –
with power and authority – in his holy name.

Jesus never founded or authorized any other church! To the contrary:

That they all may be one; as thou, Father, [art] in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gave to me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
(John 17:21-23)

A synthesis of all damnable heresies:

According to the personal opinions of many of today’s highly placed religious leaders and politicians, as well as a fair number of “regular” Catholics and even some Catholic clerics  – God is love and love conquers all – so there’s no need to worry about Jesus, church, grace, truth, commandments, life, death, Heaven or Hell, one’s personal religious beliefs/affiliation – or much of anything else.

“Just BE nice,” they say!

To the contrary,
in accordance with settled Catholic dogma (and common sense)
salvation by any other means,
other than a lifetime of full, faithful, active membership
in the Catholic Church – the only Church that Jesus Christ
ever personally founded, authorized,
supernaturally empowered and eternally guaranteed –
is likely to require a great miracle.

And miracles continue to be very, very rare!

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The sacred scriptures rightly remind us:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.  (John 3:16-18)

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)

But without faith [it is] impossible to please [him]: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and [that] he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.  (Hebrews 11:6)

Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, [even] by him doth this man stand here before you whole.

This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.  (Acts 4:10-12)

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Of course, God is sovereign, merciful,
loving, all-knowing  and all-powerful,
so he might decide to save anyone – of any faith – or no faith at all –
for any reason – or for no reason at all!

In such an event, salvation would still be obtained
only by the divine application of that saving grace
which was obtained for us by Jesus Christ,
on the cross, at Calvary.

So it is possible that non-Catholics, non-Christians, and virtually anyone might be saved – but is that likely?

  Let’s focus on the definition of the word “might”:

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aux.v. Past tense of may

1.

a. Used to indicate a condition or state contrary to fact: She might help if she knew the truth.
b. Used to indicate a possibility or probability that is weaker than may: We might discover a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
2. Used to express possibility or probability or permission in the past: She told him yesterday he might not go on the trip.
3. Used to express a higher degree of deference or politeness than may, ought, or should: Might I express my opinion?

The Bottom Line

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There is no substitute for a lifetime
of fervent prayer and practical religious study
combined with full, faithful and regular participation
in all of the work, worship, sacraments and devotions
of the Catholic Church. 

Please share this Thanksgiving message of grace and salvation
with your friends and family.

A short but comprehensive review of the Catholic Faith (PDF)

Further study

Archbishop Coakley of Oklahoma City: Sanctification is “the principle and foundation of the Christian life, of all pastoral planning and pastoral work. … God creates us for holiness. God calls us to become saints.”

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He said that the universal call to holiness is “really the heart of the [Second Vatican] Council, the heart of Lumen Gentium for sure, so I’ve hit upon that for many years, even before coming here, trying to inculcate that call to holiness, that call to be saints. That’s what it means to be Christian.”

He had written, “Holiness is not the prerogative of an elite few. It is the fundamental vocation that every Christian receives in baptism,” and reflected that holiness is not privatized or individualistic, though its expression is unique to each person.

“I’m trying to speak to the distorted understanding of what holiness means,” Archbishop Coakley explained. People often “equate sanctity with piety, and certainly, saints are pious people, but I think genuine holiness is much more robust than that.”

“Holiness has to be attractive, if it’s going to be compelling,” he said, adding that a genuine holiness “will be attractive.”

“I’ve encountered so much resistance to the notion of holiness, because people have such a poor understanding of what holiness looks like; what holiness looks like in a family,” he noted.

Read more

Editor’s note: Go make disciples of Jesus Christ – not necessarily disciples of Pope Francis, Pope Benedict XVI, Pope John Paul II, Pope Paul VI, etc. Preach the authentic Gospel, in season and out. Not the watered down, touchy-feely, feminized and modernized version that has been foisted on Catholics for lo these many years. Then see what happens!

1 Corinthians 1:10-13

(10) Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing and that there be no schisms among you: but that you be perfect in the same mind and in the same judgment.
(11) For it hath been signified unto me, my brethren, of you, by them that are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.
(12) Now this I say, that every one of you saith: I indeed am of Paul; and I am of Apollo; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.
(13) Is Christ divided? Was Paul then crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?

Bible “Ante-Types”: The Desert Wanderings of Exodus as a “type” of Purgatory

Sometimes, God’s elect have bad habits,
and are otherwise “not yet ready for prime time (“Heaven”)

The Old Testament of the Bible is replete with persons, places, and events which serve to prefigure things that would become realities in New Testament times. These are typically known as biblical “ante-types”.

“Bible only” Christians generally fail to appreciate the fact that the God who saves, nonetheless does not always instantaneously conduct his people into the “Promised Land” … which is a metaphor for Heaven. Sometimes, an intermediate course of purification and sanctification … often including a modicum of suffering … is required.

In the case of God’s Chosen People, the Israelites of the Exodus, that “intermediate course” took the form of  a 40-year long desert trek.

Only then would the Israelites be ready to enter the Promised Land.  And even after all that, only two of the original group, estimated to originally number some 2,000,000 souls, made it in alive!

All the rest were required not only to wander, and to experience a life of considerable suffering, but also to die.

Catholics have always understood, that even in these New Testament times of grace, only perfectly holy souls are permitted to enter Heaven, and that many of the faithful departed, while not “bad” enough to warrant Hell, certainly don’t meet God’s high standards for admittance to Heaven.

For those souls, an “intermediate stay” in Purgatory is required. Once their prescribed course of purification and sanctification, along with a modicum of suffering, has been completed, Heaven is always, absolutely guaranteed.

You can find an extensive list of scripture passages dealing with Purgatory here.

This is a clear case of God treating all of his people pretty much equally … but in different ways … at different times.

No real mystery here … the Bible says it’s so … and it’s only fair!

Saintly Tips for Effective Prayer

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The goal of the Christian’s life on earth is salvation in our Lord Jesus Christ and, at the same time, communion with God. The means for this communion is prayer, and through his prayer the Christian is joined in one spirit with the Lord (I Cor. 6:17). Prayer is the focal point and foundation of spiritual life and the source of salvation. Without prayer, as St. John Chrysostom says, there is no life in the spirit. Without prayer man is deprived of communion with God and can be compared to a dry and barren tree, which is cut down and thrown into the fire (Matt. 7:19).

In prayer, the Christian concentrates together all his spiritual acts. Prayer draws down to him the grace of God and is an invaluable instrument of spiritual defense in the Christian’s struggles against the sinful passions and vices. By prayer our thoughts, desires and deeds are sanctified, for he who prays receives the blessing of the Lord on his deeds, for, as Holy Scripture tells us, unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain (Ps. 127:1). Nothing so helps us to grow in virtue as our pure and pious prayers to God. Thus it was the shared opinion of all the Holy Fathers that prayer is the mother of virtues. By repeated and fervent prayer, man is made more worthy of God’s mercy and more capable of receiving the gifts of grace which God, by reason of His infinite goodness, is already to bestow on us out of His immeasurable bounties.

In prayer, the Christian prays not only for himself, but for all men, for we all are the children of God. We must pray for the salvation of our neighbor just as we pray for our own salvation, and the best means of correcting our neighbor is to pray for him, because prayer for our neighbor has far greater effect than denunciation of his sins. In addition, we pray not only for the living, but also for the departed, that God may forgive them their sins and grant them repose in the heavenly mansions of the righteous.

As with any spiritual endeavor, however, the Christian must learn how to pray properly. As St. Tikhon of Zadonsk cautions us: Of no value is that prayer in which the tongue prays but the mind is empty; the tongue speaks, but the mind lies silent; the tongue calls God, but the mind wanders amongst created things. We must, therefore, pray in fear and trembling and try in every way to ensure that our minds are with our words, or, as St. John of the Ladder tells us, to enclose our mind in the words of our prayer, [so that] the heart may respond to the words of the prayers.

The reading of prayers and prostrations are essential, of course, but these only express the state of prayer, while the prayer itself should come from the heart. And it is only such prayer, from the bottom of the heart and of the soul, that is the life of the spirit. True prayer, however, is a gift of God, and this gift is not granted to us without diligence and struggle. Therefore it is necessary for us to pray that the Lord should deem us worthy of this gift and grant us the grace to offer up to Him our sincere, pure and heartfelt prayer, for we are only able to pray when strengthened by the Holy Spirit. Therefore we must be mindful that the Holy Spirit is drawn to a soul cleansed of the stain of sin and worldly passions, and only in such a soul will He abide.

Our prayers will gradually grow more perfect as we improve the manner of our lives and cleanse our hearts of sinful passion. This banishment of sinful ways from our lives brings as its reward our success in prayer. At the same time, we must say that prayer cannot achieve perfection in isolation, but must be accompanied by all the virtues, for as we grow in virtue, so does our prayer grow ever more perfect.

Therefore we say that a Christian does not achieve true prayer at once, but only gradually, through various exertions and labor. All of life’s deeds require toil and patience, but nowhere more than in the striving after the supreme virtue prayer.

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