Salvation and Paradise can be lost

Into every being there comes that defining moment when what did not before exist now does with unmistakable clarity and purpose. One moment there is simply nothing and then within the brief span of a fleeting thought a new life comes into existence, into being. While there are ongoing questions and serious debate concerning when exactly life does begin, there are two fundamental premises concerning life that should be accepted by everyone: the irreversibility of existence and the unknowable longevity of life.

Paradise Lost

Paradise Lost

The first premise states that existence cannot be returned to non-existence; that the threshold that lies between nothingness and existence can be traversed in only one direction. Existence is permanent, existence is forever. Whether a life once lived is remembered or forgotten does not negate the fact that a life once existed. There is a somewhat subtle corollary to this premise that should be made and that is that while existence cannot be undone, there is absolutely nothing that one can do about it. Once in existence you cannot wish or cause the cessation of your existence.

The second premise tells us that the length of any life is unknown and unknowable to the created.  Whether a life lasts for only a brief moment or for many years cannot be determined by anyone but God. A corollary to this is that to God the value of any life is not measured by its longevity; we are all children of God and loved equally no matter how long or short a time we might live.

Just as you have no control over your own existence, neither do you have any control over the sanctification of your soul. God freely fills your soul with sanctifying grace and you can do nothing to earn it, absolutely nothing. Your soul is eternal and there is nothing you can do to cause it out of existence. You cannot destroy your soul but you can lose sanctification by committing supernatural suicide through the commission of mortal sin. And if your soul is not sanctified you will lose the opportunity to spend eternity with God.

In order to restore your soul to supernatural life and receive sanctifying grace from God your soul must respond to actual grace, “the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life.” [CCC 1996] Actual graces are helping graces, given by God to incentivize or push us toward some supernatural act of faith or repentance. It is through God’s assistance and our soul’s response to these actual graces which we receive from Him that enables us to humbly seek forgiveness through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and to receive sanctifying grace and to once again regain supernatural life.

The sanctification of our souls is not, as most fundamentalists and many of our protestant brethren will argue, a one-time event. This is not a position held simply by the Catholic Church, it can be found throughout Scripture. The truth is that sanctification is an ongoing process that demands reiterative human responses to God’s gifts of grace.

When we commit grievous sin we lose sanctification; salvation is lost. Through the help of actual grace and reconciliation with God our souls are once again sanctified and salvation regained.

About the author: Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator. Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin. He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is "Colloqui: A journal for restless minds", a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: Comments are always welcome and appreciated. He is the author of two books: "The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence" which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and "Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories" which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love. He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.

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