Theology by the Slice: Is salvation a matter of works?
In November the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology Newman Center hosted an event titled, “Theology by the Slice.” Students were able to ask a panel questions about the teachings and traditions of the Catholic faith. The following is one of the questions. The panel included Bishop Peter Munich; Father Mark McCormick, Newman Center chaplain; Sister Christine Hernandez, SCTJM, chancellor; Sister Rachel Gosda, SCTJM, director of Faith Formation; Sr. Maria Belen Musgrove, SCTJM, religion teacher, RCCSS; Seminarian Robert Kinyon; and Michael Pauley, director of the South Dakota Catholic Conference.
Is salvation a matter of works since after each sin penance is required?
Bishop Peter Muhich: Salvation cannot be earned. It’s a free gift from God that comes from faith and being baptized. That’s the pattern the scriptures and the church has continued ever since Jesus said, “go and make disciples of all the nations baptizing, in the name of the father, and the son, and of the Holy Spirit. Teaching them all that I commanded you. I’ll be with you until the end of the world.” He said that to the apostles as he sent them out.
So faith and baptism are the entrance into the new life in Christ, our salvation. I think it’d be helpful if you see faith and works as not opposed. Faith is the door into the house of God and works are the way you live in the house. If you don’t live according to your faith, do you really have faith? That’s what St. James says in his letter. Show me your faith without works and I’ll show you the works to go along with my faith. Sister Rachel Gosda, SCTJM: Penance also speaks to the order of love. We don’t want to offend the ones that we love, and we love the Lord. If I hurt Sister Brooke with my words, I can ask for forgiveness and she’ll forgive me. But I don’t want to continue to hurt her with my words and so penance is the way that I know that I can purify that disposition in me that’s fallen so I don’t hurt my sister, the one I love. Penance really also does speak to that. We want to be more purified and more polished so that we can love the word better and love our brothers and sisters better as well.