Mar 1 at 5:06 pm
Scott Johnston comments:
I totally agree with the primacy placed in these thoughts on grace and gratitude. But, I hope you don’t mind if I suggest an important Catholic addendum.
While Catholicism teaches the primacy of grace and that we do not earn or independently merit salvation, we do—by grace—have the opportunity to participate in the salvation won for us and for others by Christ, through our sanctified works. A soul in the state of grace does merit eternal rewards, not originally, but in the derivative sense of sharing in Christ’s work of redemption.
This, to me, is one of the most significant distinctions between a Catholic and a Protestant understanding of life in Christ, and this is why I mention it. It is true that we do not deserve salvation—even the greatest Saints. But, living a graced response to salvation by Christ for a Catholic involves not only a stance of grateful receptivity (as important and necessary as this is!), but also an eager embrace of a personal, active participation in the salvific work of Christ, in and through our own sanctified work. The “new law” implanted in us by Christ gives us a new power in potential, via the Holy Spirit, to share in the work of our own salvation and the salvation of others. In my own psyche, this is something different (and wonderfully complementary!) to the appropriate emphasis on grateful receptivity.
To me, the active, personal participation aspect of our entry into redemption is extremely valuable and life-changing, and alongside the appropriateness of a grateful response, provides an additional, profound reason why our works are important and filled with an immense dignity when done in the state of grace!
Mar 1 at 5:15 pm
And just to add one more thought, it is instructive to consider the Church’s teaching on the treasury of merit. Indulgences (which are every bit as real in the faith of the Church today as in years past contrary to the understanding of many Catholics) would not be possible, at least not in the manner as explained by the Church, without the treasury of merit built up by the saints (both capital and small ‘s’) as they participate(d) freely in the redemption won by Christ. How great is the desire of our Savior to bestow value, meaning, and dignity to the things we do in union with His love!
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