Good morning Father Angelo.
This is the first time I am writing to you, but I had already discovered some time ago your online project, which is really very useful, and which reassured me spiritually in many respects. May God keep you for a long time in your precious undertaking!
I would have a crucial doubt about Jesus’ death on the cross. I was taught that all our sins were redeemed due to it, and thanks to this we were saved. However, I do not understand exactly how we were actually saved. Doesn’t our salvation ultimately hinge on our personal acceptance of God’s Love? And isn’t it true that the piling up of our sins can be very heavy, so much so that because of it we can lose the love, the contact, the very perception of God; so much so that it can make us reject him, in such a final way that we will be damned? Yet those same sins, which have the frightful potential to pervert us to the point of pushing us into hell, had already been “paid”, “forgiven” two thousand years ago in the sacrifice of the Cross. I do not understand. Therefore, what debt was actually settled on the Cross?
I would be grateful for an explanation that could enlighten me a little bit. Thank you for the time you will devote to my question, I will remember you in my prayers.
1. Saint Paul says that “in hope we were saved” (Rom 8:24).
We were saved because we were “purchased at a price” by Christ (1 Cor 7:23).
We were all present in him on the cross. Not simply in a general way, but in a personal, individual way, because in his most perfect knowledge Christ saw and loved each one of us personally.
He saw our sins that needed atonement.
He paid in our place to gain us forgiveness.
Not only that, but also to readmit us as children to a life of endless communion with God.
2. Saint Paul says that we have already been saved “in hope”.
True, because it is necessary to acquire for us the merits of Christ.
To give you an example: for the car to be able to run, it is not enough that the gas station has a full reservoir. It is necessary to go, tap into it and put in the car what it needs in order to run.
Otherwise, you will always remain stranded.
3. We began to acquire for us the merits of Christ in Baptism.
This acquisition is further strengthened as we remain open to the action of his grace, and in particular whenever we partake of the Sacraments.
4. However, there is one thing that makes us insecure about our salvation: our faithfulness.
Because of our voluntary estrangement from God, that is, because of our freedom and our sins, we can squander the treasure of Christ’s merits and make the sacrifice of Christ useless for us.
Did not the prodigal son in the Gospel parable squander the assets that his father had acquired with his work and industriousness?
5. This is exactly what you point out in your email: “Yet those same sins, which have the frightful potential to pervert us to the point of pushing us into hell, had already been “paid”, “forgiven” two thousand years ago in the sacrifice of the Cross. I do not
understand. Therefore, what debt was actually settled on the Cross?”.
Yes, it was paid off, you acquired it. You have even been given the receipt; it was put straight in your hand.
But then you tore it up, you voluntarily decided to lose it.
At a certain time you preferred to sin rather than have it, as Esau did about the eternal blessing of the birthright (the first born son had the right to two thirds of his father’s inheritance), when he preferred to have a fleeting good like a plate of lentils.
6. This is why we say with Saint Paul that we are saved in hope.
In fact, on the part of Our Lord we are saved with absolute certainty because his sacrifice and his resurrection are involved.
Yet on our part, we are not sure that we are always faithful. We are afraid to act as Esau did.
This is why we “hope” to be saved by having the will to be persevering to the end and trusting in the assistance and help of Our Lord.
7. Finally, it must be said that, even though the assets are squandered, as long as we are in the present life, the door of the Father’s house is not closed, it remains mercifully always open.
As we give a sign of repentance, we are immediately once again embraced by the love of the Father and made once again partakers in all his goods.
With the wish to be saved not only in hope, but also in the definitive and inalienable possession of Paradise, I gladly remind you to the Lord and I bless you.