Can I Lose my Salvation Permanently?
By Michael Shackleton
Question: Is it possible for one to lose the Catholic faith and sometime later to bring oneself back to it?
Answer: The Catechism says that by faith we freely commit our entire selves to God (para 1814). These are strong words. They profess that there can be no retreat from believing that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life and no one can come to the Father except through him (John 14:6).
We receive this divine gift of faith when we are baptised into the company of believers and become members of the Church. As long as we pray and work along with the Church, usually through our parishes, it is unlikely that we shall lose this shared faith.
Jesus warned us, though, that it can happen. Just read the parable of the sower in Matthew 13. Jesus tells the story and then clearly explains the parable’s message. Faith and good works take root and flourish in “rich soil”, which is the spiritual nourishment of the Word of God, the sacraments and prayer, found in our parishes and communities.
Faith is a seed that requires this regular spiritual watering to develop. Without it, it will wilt and can even fade away.
Can it be regained? Yes, because faith, hope and love are the three “theological virtues” that are poured into our souls at baptism. They are called “theological” because their object is God himself. They remain within us in spite of becoming dormant due to indifference and neglect. Here’s an example from the Gospel.
A distraught father who begged Jesus to cure his little boy was told that everything is possible for those who believe. The man retorted: “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief” (Mark 9:23-25). The man’s dormant faith became reinvigorated when he asked for help to make it stronger.
This is what we all need to do too, but in particular those who have doubts at times which inhibit their living in solidarity with the Catholic community.
Faith is God’s precious gift to us. We must hold on to it resolutely because it assures us that life and death have meaning and purpose.
This question was asked and answered in the March issue of the Southern Cross
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