NO ONE IS LOST BY SURPRISE

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“[God] who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4)

“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

God is just. Infinitely just. He is neither arbitrary or capricious. No one is lost by surprise. Everyone, at the end of life’s journey, will be able to tally up a gargantuan amount of graces sent by the Father of Mercy to save us. A bitter victory it will thus be, as F.W. Faber points out, if we manage to succeed in rejecting these graces.

How much grace God sends to someone estranged from Him is not subject to precise theological formulation.The starting point is the Infinite Goodness of God who is generous to every soul. The great Saint Alphonsus de Ligouri  quotes with complete approval Soto who said:

      “I am absolutely certain, and I believe that all the Holy Doctors who were worthy of the name were always most positive, that no one was ever deserted by God is this mortal life”  (The Great Means of Salvation and of Perfection, p.149).
 

A more recent theologian, Father Garrigou-LaGrange says: Christ’s humanity communicates to us from minute to minute the actual grace of the present moment, as the air we breathe continually enters our lungs. *** Outside the sacraments, this activity of the Savior transmits the lights of faith to unbelievers who do not resist it.” 

Finally, Father Faber states: “Figures could not put down the number of graces  [God] has given and is hourly giving to us” (p. 142); Faber states that even a man in mortal sin, through faith and hope, receives “incessant crowds of…actual graces” (p. 250). At page 313 Faber states that “God is infinitely merciful to every soul,” and “no one ever has been lost…by surprise….”  ( The Creator and the Creature, TAN).

Tom Mulcahy, M.A.
 

P.S. The quote from Father Garrigou-LaGrange is from The Three Ages of the Interior Life. In his encyclical, Redemptoris Missio, Saint John Paul II says the following:

Salvation in Christ Is Offered to All 10. “The universality of salvation means that it is granted not only to those who explicitly believe in Christ and have entered the Church. Since salvation is offered to all, it must be made concretely available to all. But it is clear that today, as in the past, many people do not have an opportunity to come to know or accept the gospel revelation or to enter the Church. The social and cultural conditions in which they live do not permit this, and frequently they have been brought up in other religious traditions. For such people salvation in Christ is accessible by virtue of a grace which, while having a mysterious relationship to the Church, does not make them formally part of the Church but enlightens them in a way which is accommodated to their spiritual and material situation. This grace comes from Christ; it is the result of his Sacrifice and is communicated by the Holy Spirit. It enables each person to attain salvation through his or her free cooperation.”

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