Josephine Lombardi, the St. Augustine’s Seminary professor of pastoral and systematic theology

Program aims to demystify salvation

  • May 8, 2014

TORONTO - Salvation’s not cheap. It’s free — a gift of God. But what exactly is salvation? Salvation from what? Salvation for what?

Josephine Lombardi, the St. Augustine’s Seminary professor of pastoral and systematic theology who runs lay spiritual formation programs at the seminary overlooking the Scarborough Bluffs, is ready to take on those questions and more.

“If somebody is interested in coming to hear a little bit more about what the word salvation means, we hope to touch people, inspire people, encourage people to think a little more about this great gift,” Lombardi told The Catholic Register.

Lombardi will deliver a pair of talks on “Mary in the Catholic tradition” and “Salvation: What is it?” May 24 at St. Augustine’s. The $40 program begins 9:30 a.m. with Mary, followed by Mass and lunch and then the talk on salvation. It all wraps up at 2:30 p.m.

The seminary offers five such programs in the academic year. They are an opportunity for people to sample some of what the seminary has to offer before enrolling in a diploma or degree program or to simply fortify their understanding — whether they help out with a parish RCIA program, read at Mass or just want to smack down silly arguments from their grandchildren.

What many people don’t understand about salvation is what’s hidden in the Latin root of the word. The English word salvation comes from the Latin word for health — salus. To think of how health and salvation are connected it helps to think of Jesus’ miracles, and how often He tells people “your faith has healed you.”

“I think some people may be surprised to hear that salvation is connected to healing,” Lombardi said.

It would also be a mistake to imagine that every faithful, church-going Catholic has a clear notion of where Mary fits into the Catholic universe. Though the distinction has been made over and over, there are Catholics who can’t really see the difference between worshipping the three persons of God and honouring Mary.

“There is something about her being as well that brings us closest to Christ,” Lombardi said. “She gives us a sneak preview of restored humanity.”

It isn’t just that the salvation Christ brings to the entire world hinges on Mary’s “yes.” Mary’s great intimacy with Jesus makes us all closer to Christ.

“Jesus took His flesh from her,” said Lombardi. “He reveals the father in His divinity, but in His humanity He reveals restored humanity.”

That doesn’t make Mary co-redemptrix. The redemption of the world is God’s business, independent of anything any human being has done or can do. Mary participates in salvation in a special way, but still in a human way by receiving Christ.

“We’re all called to participate in some way. But He is the redeemer,” said Lombardi.

“She participates because of her ‘yes.’ We needed her yes, and that’s how she participates in our salvation.”

To sign up for Lombardi’s workshop, e-mail ioftsas@rogers. com or call (416) 261-7207 ext. 235.

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