Rev. Anonymous wrote:

Hi Mike,
Hi John,

I have a question on the economy of salvation. As I understand it, Jesus' sacrifice fully paid my penalty of sin. His atonement removed all guilt on my part. When the Day of Judgment comes, there will be no evidence of wrongdoing because, through repentance, I have trusted the Blessed Savior Jesus Christ to save me from "God's wrath" (Romans 5:1-11).

Because I view our communications as learning, not debating, I will not include a bunch of Scripture references. I cited this as a mere reference of ideology. We are both aware of the Protestant economy. I require understanding of Catholic Teaching.

I do appreciate your help in understanding.

Let me explain one HUGE draw to the Church — Authority. So many people, read so many different translations of the Bible. These are accompanied by individual interpretations of the Scriptures.

The Church has an approved list of translations. One of the wonders of the modern world is how a first time reader of the Bible is an expert.

Scripture is but one example of authority. Denominations have the same problem.

Their authority comes from whom?

It is said that they derive their beliefs from The Holy Spirit, or Christ, or some other spiritual illumination.

I heard of one denomination whose leaders prayed and searched long, speaking with God to determine if ordaining homosexuals was acceptable. Of course, their god accepts that; it is nothing more than a mirror image of themselves. Idolaters!

In these cases, I feel as Jesus did in the situation of Matthew 21:23-27

And when he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, "By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?"  Jesus answered them, "I also will ask you one question, and if you tell me the answer, then I also will tell you by what authority I do these things.   The baptism of John, from where did it come? From heaven or from man?" And they discussed it among themselves, saying, "If we say, 'From heaven,' he will say to us, 'Why then did you not believe him?' But if we say, 'From man,' we are afraid of the crowd, for they all hold that John was a prophet." So they answered Jesus, "We do not know." And he said to them, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.

The Catholic Church has the distinct advantage of tracing its teaching to the feet of Christ Himself.

Another question. I am not comfortable with praying to Mary.

  • Outside of the Chaplet enclosed in the gracious packet you sent, are there other prayer models to use with the Rosary?

My thoughts if I convert:

The Cost . . .

  • My wife is confused.
  • My 10 year old was baptized (by me) last Sunday.
  • What will this change mean for my children?
  • I will lose my ordination and ministry.
  • My extended family will doubt and question, and try to bring me to reason.

I pray, Oh Merciful Savior, that you will guide, through the Holy Spirit, my thoughts, learning, and steps in this process. Confirm, I pray, Oh Father, this step in my pilgrimage. Undoubtedly.

Thank You for all of your help. it is a refreshing drink of spiritual water.

Rev. Anonymous
And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward." Matthew 10:42

  { Can you explain the Church's economy of salvation and praying to Mary which I find distressing? }

Mike replied:

Hi Rev. Anonymous,

Thanks for the questions.

RE: Salvation Economy

You said:
As I understand it, Jesus' sacrifice fully paid my penalty of sin. His atonement removed all guilt on my part. When the Day of Judgment comes, there will be no evidence of wrongdoing because, through repentance, I have trusted the Blessed Savior Jesus Christ to save me from "God's wrath" (Romans 5:1-11).

The theology behind a Protestant view of Salvation and Catholic view are very different.

Some Protestants believe that Christian Baptism takes away original sin and transforms us from pagans to Christians who partake in divine nature while others believe it does nothing more than get you wet.

Those "others" would believe that a public profession of faith in Jesus is required for salvation.

From a Catholic view, Our Lord and his Church takes free will very seriously.
God creates everyone with a personal free will, they will be responsible for on judgment day.

In Protestant theology, the concept of salvation is static. Meaning, all you have to do is claim Jesus as your personal savior and after that no matter what sins you commit, you will still be saved and go to Heaven.

We would disagree with that way of thinking.

From a Catholic view, salvation is dynamic! What am I talking about? At Baptism, you are justified, sanctified and make like babies of Christ!!! Alleluia!

From an infant to about age 7, hopefully all children will grow in holiness after the example of their parents who will hopefully instill Christian virtues into their children.  At age 7, most children reach "the age of reason", where they can distinguish good, holy choices; from bad, evil choices.

From age 7 onward, the Christian life is a struggle. A struggle to adhere to holy practices and to stay away from bad practices. This is especially true from about age 15 onward where the concupiscence kicks in. (sins of the flesh)

From age 7 up until our judgment, life is a process of striving to be disciples for our Lord, just like the first disciples were. That does not mean we won't have our own short comings and sins. Nevertheless, when we fall, we repent, confess our sins and get back up again, to evangelize again.

The Protestant view says, there is no need to repent of your sins. You are saved and going to Heaven.

The Catholic view is dynamic, because life is an **on going process of fighting that bastard Satan and his fallen angels**: (falling, repenting, getting back up, evangelizing), (falling, repenting, getting back up, evangelizing ... etc.)

Once justified at Baptism, can you loose your justification?

Yes! because God choose to create man with free will.

Can you get it back?

Yes, through the sacrament of Confession John 20:19-23

Jesus DID fully pay for the penalty of the sins of all mankind, no question about that. His atonement removed all guilt **but** because we are humans with free will, when **we choose** to sin and fall, we have **to choose** to repent through the means HE left for us: Confession (John 20:19-23) before ascending into Heaven.

We have ***to choose to apply the fruits of his redemptive work to our lives.*** We do this through the sacraments and especially the sacrament of Confession, where Jesus, who was a man, uses the mind and body of another man (a Catholic priest) to work "in the person of Christ" to forgive the sins of his people.

There is a difference between being saved and being redeemed. A friend of mine shared with me this analogy.

Let's say a man is drowning in the ocean. The captain of a nearby ship sees him, throws a life-preserver out to him and starts to bring him toward the ship. The drowning man is being redeemed but is not saved. He is only saved when the Captain's men get him on the ship, get him checked out for his overall health and get some food and drink inside his stomach. THEN he is saved.

The Protestant view is appealing because no matter what you do with your free will, you will be saved.

This is different then the Catholic view, which states you can, even if you are a Catholic, loose your salvation. Catholic Christians are encouraged to persevere through life and as St. Paul said, "to run to the finish line". (Hebrews 12:1)

If you want a text book sense of the issues involved you can find them in paragraphs CCC 1987 - 2029.

You said:
I am not comfortable with praying to Mary.

Then don't!

For those, like you, who are being drawn to the Church, yet feel uncomfortable praying to Mary, my colleague John, usually recommends that people stay with the type of prayer life and spirituality you are currently comfortable with.

In a previous question you said:
I have prayed with honesty and sincerity for Jesus to show me the truth about his Mother.

That's enough Reverend. That prayer, by itself, is all that's needed.

With each Catechism I send out, I enclose a Rosary with instructions because it has helped me in my life and I just want to share with others what has helped me. Others on our AskACatholic team, pray or meditate on the Scriptures. There is no mandate in the Church that requires everyone to pray the Rosary, though it is a highly recommended Biblical prayer.

One other reason, I enclose one with every Catechism is because I'm reminded about what Cardinal Law once said when he was a bishop in Missouri:

"The most ecumenical thing a Catholic can do, is be unmistakably Catholic!"

This is what I strive to do. Although MANY Protestants pray the rosary, I do think it is unmistakably Catholic.

You said:
Outside of the Rosary and prayer instructions enclosed in the gracious packet you sent, are there other prayer models to use with the rosary?

Yes! Within the Rosary packs I send is something called the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. This is a great prayer, that has nothing to do with Mary, but is a prayer to God the Father asking him to have mercy on us for our sins in light of Our Lord's sorrowful passion. It is a plea for His Divine Mercy on America and on the World. Maybe you can say it with your wife and children.

I also enclosed a holy card with a Consecration to the Holy Spirit prayer.
Maybe you and your family can pray this prayer together.

I would touch base with Marcus Grodi if possible at:

http://www.chnetwork.org

He specializes in assisting Protestant ministers and their spouse who are reflecting on joining the Catholic Church. Marcus understands the trails and tribulations involved in your situation because he was once in your shoes!

Tell him, Mike Humphrey and the gang at AskACatholic sent you : )

Hope this helps,

Mike

John replied:

Hello Brother Anonymous,

It is good to hear from you again. I would like to share a few thoughts with you that may help you to better understand the Catholic position on Salvation.

Catholic Soteriology like all other Catholic Doctrine flows from the Doctrine of the Incarnation.

We start by answering Jesus' question to Peter.

Who do you say that I am? (Matthew 16)

When we come to understand the implication of the Incarnation, we begin to realize that God from all eternity intended to penetrate the time and space He created by becoming part of His own creation.

As Paul wrote to the Philippians 2:5-11:

5 For let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and in habit found as a man. 8 He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross. 9 For which cause, God also hath exalted him and hath given him a name which is above all names: 10 That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth: 11 And that every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father.

By becoming a man, Christ included and involved humanity in His redemptive work. It is in and through the Divine Person, the Man, Jesus Christ, that all men participate in the glorious redemption of mankind.

For this reason, there is organic unity which exists between the members of the Body of Christ and Jesus the Head.

In so far as it relates to the salvation of individuals, the Church holds that when we are Justified, we become a new creation. It is not just a simple juridical and forensic act where by the righteousness of Christ is imputed. Salvation is far more that a declaration of not guilty. It is nothing short of adoption and Divine sonship, in which we participate by grace in the Divine Nature of Christ. In the Eastern Catholic Church, they actually call it Deification.

So in the Catholic view, when we are Justified, we are infused with the righteousness of Christ. It is intrinsic and, therefore, dynamic — not static.

You mentioned Romans 5. But Romans 5 must be understood in terms of Romans 4. In chapter 4, Paul quotes Genesis 15:6:

"[Abraham] believed God and it was accounted to him as righteousness."

A Protestant looking at the verse will say, this is the point in time where Abraham comes to saving faith. It is a one time event. However, the problem is that Hebrews 11 tells us that Abraham had saving faith as early as Genesis 12. James points to Genesis 22 as yet another point where Abraham is justified so Justification is ongoing, dynamic, and intrinsic.

Yes, Paul uses legal language to make his point in Romans, but even if God simply declares us righteous, Isaiah 55 tells us that God's word will not return void, but will accomplish that which it was sent forth to do. So what God declares to be so, God does.

Luther argued that we were nothing but a pile of dung, and when God justifies us, He simply covers us with snow.

The Church says, we may start out as a pile of dung but when God justifies us, He turns us into to snow.

All that said; the Catholic economy of Salvation can be summed up by saying:

Salvation is a sovereign and complete act of God from beginning to end which requires our cooperation (by grace through faith), every step of the way.

Now there are a variety of paradigms that fit within orthodox Catholic theology that express, in some ways, different aspects of our Soteriology. Here are a few:

There is the ransom model (which was very popular in the early centuries).

In this model, Christ's death was the ransom paid to Satan for our souls. There is some truth to this, but taken to extremes it over empowers Satan.

There is the Deification model (very much used in the Eastern Catholic and Orthodox Church).

God became man so that man can become god. This too has much merit, but doesn't pay much attention to the atonement aspects of the Incarnation.

There is the satisfaction model (this came about later and is the basis for the Protestant paradigm).

Christ's sacrifice was satisfaction for our sin. The problem is, if you go too far with this, you wind up with a Father who takes out His wrath on His perfect Son, to save the rest of us. That, by it's very nature, goes against God's justice.

All these paradigms have something to tell us about nature of this great mystery we call Salvation but none of them are perfect. The key word here is mystery. This cannot be reduced to an algebraic formula. In fact, the Church has not dogmatically defined it's Soteriology the way she's defined Christology and so forth.

We are called to worship the living God, looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith to save us. If we get lost in the mechanics, we cease to worship.

I hope this helps,

John DiMascio

John followed-up:

Hi Brother Anonymous,

In a reply to Mike you said:
I am not comfortable with praying to Mary.

If I recall correctly, your ministerial credentials are through the Assembly of God or some other Pentecostal/Charismatic denomination.

If, in fact, they are, I would suggest you try and find some Catholic Charismatic's in your area. I come from a similar background and have found that the Charismatic expression of the Catholic faith was a wonderful bridge through which I came to understand other Catholic devotions.

Irrespective of denominations, I always encourage non-Catholic Christians to simply maintain the same prayer life they've always had. Evangelicals, Pentecostals, Catholics, indeed all Christians pray to the Father, through the Son, in the Holy Spirit. The difference is that Catholics and Orthodox understand that we never pray alone. We are aware that the Saints who have gone on before us, pray with us (See Hebrews 12 in relation to Hebrews 11), and they offer our prayers and concerns in the presence of God (See Revelation 5:8), but in no instance are Catholics to consider the intercession of Saints as a side show or a back door to the Father. That would be a form of idolatry.

Evangelicals and Pentecostals/Charismatic's aren't known for {rote|routine} prayer. Indeed, there is something to be said for praying from the heart. On the other hand, rote prayer forces the believer to pray and contemplate things which he may otherwise avoid. It is by repetition that these prayers should become our personal prayer of the heart as well. It is not always the easiest thing to pray "thy will be done" or "forgive us, as we forgive those.WE FORGIVE THOSE".

A common objection is that the continual repetitive prayer becomes nothing more than a vain repetition. This is always a danger. It is all too easy for the mind to wander off.

  • We repeat the words while we think of Sunday dinner, the upcoming sports game, or the errands we need to run but is this not the risk with all prayer?

In the Catholic tradition, there is room for both extemporaneous prayer as well as rote prayer.
For Liturgical purposes, we rely on rote prayer for several reasons.

First and foremost because we believe, as we pray. Every prayer is, in essence, a statement of our faith. Bearing in mind, that Liturgy preceded the printing press, Liturgical prayer became the principle means through which the Word of God was reinforced in the heart of the believer.

Nevertheless, rote prayer is also common in Evangelicalism and Pentecostalism, the difference being, most of the rote prayer is set to music. Imagine a congregation of people singing different lyrics and different melodies while the Choir sang Amazing Grace. It might be a bit chaotic. Of course, in the Charismatic/Pentecostal spirituality, we Sing a new song or Sing in the Spirit but we also sing rote songs, hymns and choruses.

Take away the music from the lyric and you a simply left with a {rote|routine} prayer.

My point is that there is plenty of room in Catholicism for you to pray exactly the same way you pray now.

That said; if you want explore other forms of Catholic prayer, but are not ready to embrace the Rosary, I would encourage you to visit your local Catholic Church and ask the priest for a missal from the pew. In it you will find prayers such as:

  • the Gloria
  • the Confiteor
  • the Nicene Creed
  • not to mention the Eucharistic prayers offered by the Priest.

They are rich in Catholic doctrine and beautiful. Additionally, some Catholics and all Catholic Priests pray the Liturgy of Hours. These are prayers that are said at certain times of the day. They include readings from:

  • the Scriptures
  • of course, the Psalms
  • as well as other prayers written by various Saints or Fathers of the Church through out the ages.

Well, I hope my e-mail helps you. Please feel free to write me directly or through the group if there is any way we can help you in your journey.  I would also ask for your prayers, as you shall be in mine.

Under His Mercy,

John DiMascio

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