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Brandon wrote:

Hi, guys —

I believe that faith comes, and works naturally follow. I have found that many Catholics believe that without works, there is no salvation.

  • That said, if a man accepts the Father's gift of salvation on his death bed, does he receive salvation?

He has no works. I write you not as one to criticize, but I really want to know how the Catholic Church feels about this.


  { If a man accepts the gift of salvation on his death bed with no works, is he saved? }

Mary Ann replied:

Hi, Brandon —

Yes, he does.

The first work of faith is to believe, to accept the salvation offered.

Mary Ann

John replied:

Hi, Brandon —

Just to expound on Mary Ann's answer, salvation is ultimately a work of God in us, with which we must cooperate by an assent of our free will. Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith.

As St. Paul writes:

He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it. (Philippians 1:6)

In the twelfth chapter of Hebrews, we read in the presence of God are "the spirits of just men made perfect." (Hebrews 12:23)  As Catholics, we believe that this process of being "made perfect" starts with faith (and baptism normally), but no matter when we start this journey, God will complete it in us, even after physical death.

That is why the Church teaches that most (saved) souls after death go through a condition or place called purgatory. It is the final process of purification that God puts us through. So a person accepting Christ in his last breath stands forgiven of all his sins, but he is not yet "made perfect" so, in most instances, there will be some kind of purification. That is why we continue to pray for the dead as well as the living. Not that they might be saved; they are saved.

Although they died in faith and are saved we pray for them as they undergo the last phase of their sanctification. This in no way implies a gospel of works for it is God who purifies and sanctifies us with His love.


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