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November 14, 1997     The Message
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November 14, 1997

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14, 1997 The Message --for Catholics of Souihwestern Indiana 11 .   ,{!;{..   .,   .... Salvation" Faith alone or faith and good works? By FATHER JOHN DIETZEN Catholic News Service Question: As I understand it, both Roman Catholics and Evangelical Protestants believe ,,  by grace through faith. .vangelicals do not believe that "good works" in our salvation, which is a gift of God. that those who work well to the end t in God will achieve eternal life, as said of Trent. The idea of salvation by "faith alone," if we truly as our savior, makes a lot of sense. As a life-long Catholic, I don't understand exactly the church's position is on this issue. Are we by faith alone or by faith plus works? ew Jersey) base entirely wondering about it? AliSWer: , . I m sure you're aware this has been a Christianity, especially since the Protes- Fortunately, interfaith dialogue on the subject in ei:aorSr generally has raised the "debate" above " ", neated arguments so common in the last Discussions are more charitable today and closer to the truth than they once We are, after all, dealing here with a mystery. As with other mysteries, when we attempt to explain an interaction between the infinite, eternal God, and very limited, circumscribed creatures like human beings, we inevitably run into frustrations. How can God, a divine person, unbounded and without limit, be contained within the limits of a human nature? How can a human being, limited and fragile "like us in everything except sin," as St. Paul says, be at the same time the infinite Creator God? There is no rational answer, no way to solve the puzzle to our satisfaction Yet, that seeming contra- diction is precisely what we believe, by faith, about Jesus Christ. The mystery of how God's action interweaves with ours in accomplishing salvation is much the same. Several truths appear to be certain from revela- tion; at least some of them also seem irreconcilable. For example: The grace of justification (freeing us from sin and sharing with us his divine life) is a pure, unmerited gift from God. Sanctifying grace (literally "the gift that makes us holy"), God's life in us, is a purely gratuitous, unmer- ited outpouring from God. Since we are made in the image and likeness of God, having the power to know and to love him, we must respond to that free initiative of God. God freely has chosen to involve us in the saving work of his grace. We are free to enter that commu- nion of love which God offers or not to enter it. Since there is an infinite inequality, a chasm of being, between God and ourselves, we can never pos- sess a real right, or merit, to anything from God. Nevertheless, God accepts our cooperation with his grace as "merit," merit which is itself pure gift of his goodness. If you think about it, there is obviously no way to wrap all those positions into a neat, satisfying pack- age. Accepting them doesn't bring us any closer to explaining how merit, human freedom and God's gracious generosity meet in the process of salvation Yet, each of these doctrines is necessary; we dis- card or ignore any one of them only at the cost of undermining the Gospels' message of hope. There is, I believe, no major Christian denomina- tion which has a body of basic beliefs that would reject any of these statements. The difference, if any, would be about emphasis. The Catholic position on the subject is, of course, found in a multitude of documents through the cen- turies. It is briefly and well summarized in the Cate- chism of the Catholic Church (Nos. 1987- 2011). A free brochure answering questions Catholics ask about the sacrament of penance is available by sending a stamped self- addressed envelope to Father John Dietzen, Holy Trinity Church, 704 N. Main St., Bloomington, IlL 61701. (Questions for this column should be sent to Father Dietzen at the same address.) ,, ...... ..... Benedictine Sister to give vocal recital p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 15, at noon, both times CST. Benedictine Sister Michele Francis Preis- er will present her senior recital in Neu Chapel at the Univer- sity of Evansville, Sat- urday, Nov. 15, at 2 p.m. Sister Preiser, a Fer- dinand Benedictine, is pursuing a bache- lor of music educa- tion degree and stud- ies voice with Joseph " Hopkins. She is the daughter of Alice ISER and Theodore Preiser B.The recital .... Troy, of East Wisc. lingual, D Will include works bv Hildeard von Preiser Wll eke, Faur6, Gounod anci Atkinson. Sister r'a"_" ,and oe_assisted by Eva Key on piano and Open'toth ,,, Re.,ato Butturi on :tuitar. The recital is pubhc and free of charge. Aborti, Pro on Program to be aired Y.a(Jerbu rgramgh produced by Catholic CharitieSn Forumand oPartial' Bit,hA t County. Rl'ght to Life", "Opt : -hor ,,,_ bortion,,, will be shown on EWTN. The t'ogram is scheduled Friday, Nov. 14, at 9 St. John, Loogootee, gives thanks St. John Church, Loogootee, "has been especially b]essed in recent years," according to Mary Ann Smith, secretary of the parish's outreach committee. "In an effort to say 'Thank You' to God for the bless- ings he has given us, St. John's has made a decision to share its blessings," she said. The parish sets aside a per- centage of its weekly collection into an outreach fund, to share annually with needy individuals and institu- tions, divided evenly inside and outside the diocese. After eight months, the parish reports a total of $8,000 was given to the Maryknoll Sisters, Christian Appalachian Project, Build a Miracle, Indiana Citi- zens for Life, Ozanam Family Shelter Corporation and the Washington Catholic Building Campaign. World AIDS Day: To 'Give Children Hope' The Tri-State Aids Community Planning Group will set up an information table at Washington Square Mass on Sunday, Nm: 30, to provide information to the community as part of World Aids Day 1997. The group asks all churches in the Tri-State to ring their bells 17 times on Monday, Dec. 1, at 2 p.m., to signi- fy the number of years of the epidemic. The theme of the observance is "Give Children Hope in a World with AIDS," and aims to increase understanding of the magnitude of the HW/AIDS pandemic, according to Sister Darlene Boyd, S.F.C.C., of Evansville. By the year 2000, it is estimated that as many as 80,000 children will have been orphaned because of AIDS. Mass times available nationwide Travelers throughout the United States may find the times of Masses and the location of the nearest Catholic church by calling 1-800-Mass:I'[mes, or (410) 676-2231. Mass schedules from parishes in the United States were updated from diocesan directories as of Oct. 1, according to the coordinator of the project which is located in the Archdiocese of Miami. A website with the same information is under development. Estate planning symposium Saturday The Catholic Foundation of Southwestern Indiana, St. Mary's Health Care Services and the Daughters of Charity are co-sponsoring a free estate-planning sym- posium Saturday, No: 15, 9 a.m. to nn, at St. Mar"s Auditorium at St. Mary's Medical Center, Evansville. Msgr. Kenneth R. Knapp, vicar general and pastor of Christ the King Church, Evansville, will be the moderator. Presenters will include Sharon J. Kennedy; C.P.A.; W.C. Bussing III, an attorney; Gary D. 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