Saint Meinrad Seminary & School of Theology

Formation and Education for the Life of the Church

Saved For What?

by Ann Cavera


A while back, a stranger at a gas station asked me (Ann) if I had been "saved." With my own roots formed in another faith, I understood his well-meant intention. I smiled and honestly replied, "Yes! By the blood of Christ!" For the moment, that satisfied both of us and we parted company.

What I wanted to say was, "By the blood of Christ…but wait! There is more, so much more! Salvation is like the chemistry set we once gave our oldest son at Christmas. He disappeared into the basement and stayed there until spring discovering the secrets inside the little bottles.

Things got mixed together in weird combinations, sometimes followed by him saying things like "Oops" or "Something has slightly caught fire!" Sometimes he rushed upstairs to show us one of his creations or share an amazing discovery. It took weeks for him to learn what worked and what didn't. Meanwhile, he enjoyed the time it took to "unwrap" this gift.

Salvation, too, is far more than a one-time overwhelming gift. We recognize this in every Eucharist. Like all good gifts, salvation must be opened, savored and explored to the fullest. That takes a lifetime.

We are committed to Christ in Baptism and recommitted in Confirmation. Hopefully, the more we grow in understanding, the more we give our hearts over to Christ on an ever-deeper level.

We have a friend who describes this life-long transformation as "marinating in the Spirit." We like her description. We also like the term, "practicing Catholics," because that is exactly what we do. We Catholics keep on practicing. The more we practice our faith, the better we get. Spiritually, we hope to move on from playing the simple scales of faith until our lives become living "symphonies."

As for conversion, as St. Augustine discovered, our faith calls us to commitment not just with our minds but with our hearts. St. Augustine actually had two conversions. The first was an intellectual understanding of God's gift of salvation.

At age 25, he became an "intellectual" Christian after which he is said to have often prayed: "Lord, make me a good and chaste Christian, but not yet." Nine years later, he lost his heart to Christ.

I think salvation can happen either way. Some of us, overwhelmed by the gift of Christ, lose our hearts but have little understanding about how to live our faith. Others of us spend far too much time trying to grasp the meaning of salvation while we remain bystanders in the work of the Kingdom; saved perhaps, but of little use.

The gift of salvation is full of life and amazing discoveries. Sometimes we can hardly wait to share something remarkable we have learned, while other times all we can say is "Oops." It is the nature of the gift that, along the way, things will catch fire.

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Echoes from the Bell Tower is a blog devoted to observations on Christian faith, spirituality and everyday events, by authors with a connection to the Benedictine values found at Saint Meinrad Archabbey and its Seminary and School of Theology. Contributors include students, permanent deacons, Benedictine oblates and Saint Meinrad monks. Their stories, thoughts and ideas highlight the mission and vision that ring out from the bell towers on this Hill in southern Indiana.