First Friday, March 6, 2015

J.M.J. It may seem unnecessary to state that God our Creator wants us to be saved. Most of us have heard this truth since we were very young. 

But it is vital that we restate this important assertion. Why? Because over the last five centuries, there have been varying views as to God's desire for the salvation of His people. And these different perspectives are still around today. 

The famous word "predestination" comes into play here. 

For the Catholic Church, "predestination" means that God has given each human person a destiny: to share Everlasting Life with Him forever in Heaven. The Almighty wills that each person be saved. Yet, He does not force salvation on anyone who is unreceptive to it. 

The Protestant Reformer John Calvin (1509-1564) developed the contrasting notion that the Lord, before time began, in His Divine Foreknowledge selected some persons to go to Heaven and others to go to Hell. The concept of "double predestination" argues that one chosen to go to Hell is entirely incapable of altering the fate that God has assigned to him because of a "positive determination" to sin under which he is burdened and which he cannot suppress. 

The Catholic Church counters this position of Calvin by declaring that authentic predestination is part of Divine Providence. The stance championed by Calvin is heretical because it denies God's desire that we be saved and the Redemption carried out by Jesus on Calvary. Further, Calvin's erroneous understanding of predestination contradicts the justice and holiness of God and neglects the freedom of the human person to decide where he will spend eternity. 

Catholic teaching considers Saint Paul's Letter to the Romans (8:29-30) to be foundational for her doctrine of predestination. "For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that He might be the first-born among many brethren. And those whom He predestined He also called and those whom He called He also justified; and those whom He justified He also glorified." 

God does know where I will spend eternity, but He does not compel me to choose Heaven over Hell or vice versa. The Lord cooperates in the merits that lead to Paradise but only permits the sin that leads to Hell. 

The Council of Trent (1545-1563) taught that solely by a special revelation may one know with certainty his final destination. Nevertheless, spiritual writers have suggested eight signs in the lives of the just that point to God's special assistance. From this evidence, it may be concluded that the person endowed with one of these qualities is making progress on the road to the unceasing Kingdom of God. 

1.) An upright life marked by the frequent reception of the Sacraments and the presence of the three Theological Virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity and the four Cardinal Virtues of Prudence, Justice, Fortitude and Temperance. 

2.) A keen conscience that avoids sin and the "near occasion" (that is, persons, places, things and events) that leads to sin. 

3.) A patience in suffering born from the Love of God. 

4.) A relish for God's Holy Word as found in Sacred Scripture and the Apostolic Tradition. 

5.) A mercy towards those who are distressed in body, mind or spirit. 

6.) A genuine love of enemies that eschews revenge but instead forgives. 

7.) A humility that is modeled on the meek Sacred Heart of Jesus. 

8.) A filial devotion to Our Blessed Lady manifested particularly in the recitation of the Most Holy Rosary. 

The presence of these eight characteristics guarantee that one has opened his soul to God and yielded to the saving action of the Holy Spirit. But no one who possesses even one of these qualities can congratulate himself. Rather, he must thank the Almighty for the influence of His saving grace. 

Pastors, parents and catechists do well by teaching these "eight signs." Imagine the positive spiritual results if we strove to make these characteristics a part of our lives and encouraged those around us to do likewise! 

Yes, God our Creator wants us to be saved. We rejoice in this truth and do all in our power to cooperate with Jesus Christ so that His plan for our eternal happiness will be realized. 

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.

Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us.

Saint Joseph, pray for us.

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