Catholics often say we can offer our suffering as a sacrifice to God in exchange for salvation for ourselves and others. At the same time, we are told that salvation is a free gift from God. Are these two sayings contradictory?
Fr. Francis' answer:
When Catholics offer our sacrifices, the more correct terminology is we offer them to make reparation or restitution for our sins and the sins of others. Sometimes we may say we offer our sacrifices to help to save somebody, which is often shortened to for the salvation of souls.
“Salvation is both a gift from God and our own response. We cannot justify ourselves by any work. Being made right with God is a pure gift that Jesus offers.”
However, once accepted, we must work hard to respond to His grace, which calls us to follow Jesus and to live out the fullness of God’s call to discipleship and holiness. In essence, it is the work of God, but we must choose to participate, often with great effort.