Resisting evil and working for more faith

Cause of Our Joy l Katie Faley

I’ve always been a devourer of books. I’ll read just about anything, but I especially love non-fiction stories of World War II and the Holocaust.

I’ve picked up on a recurring theme throughout many of these WWII and Holocaust stories I’ve read. Having faith takes work.

The book I just wrapped up was about a Dutch Jewish woman working for the resistance. In very simple ways, she resisted the Nazi power that was spreading throughout her homeland and taking the lives of her friends and family. She risked her life multiple times to deliver letters, food, resistance newspapers, and forged identification documents to people hiding from the Nazis.

Eventually she was arrested, sent to a concentration camp, beaten, and starved. By the grace of God and with a hope of steel, she survived.

She kind of fell into the resistance network accidentally. However, working for good gave her something that she claims saved her: hope.

The resistance fighters she worked with were of all different backgrounds. They shared this secret fight for justice by saving their fellow human beings at the risk of their own safety and fighting evil with good. There were also many Catholics who joined the resistance fight simply because they wanted to do good — St. Maximilian Kolbe for example. These resistance fighters remind us of the value of good works.


For many Christian denominations, it’s believed that salvation is gained by faith alone. Serving and doing good has no effect on their relationship with God.

Good works don’t earn us a spot in heaven. They simply help us to keep our faith in God true and our relationship with Him solid.

As Catholics, we believe that our souls must be transformed to reach heaven. The first step is our active choice to respond to God’s invitation to put our faith in Him. Then we pack our bags and go on our way because God’s saved us and we’re good for the rest of our lives? No.

God is Love. That’s who He is. If we don’t practice love, then our faith is dead.

Our faith is perfected through the sacraments and our charity. We see in the Bible what charity looks like because Jesus showed us. And if that wasn’t enough, He also outright told us: feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, shelter the homeless, visit the sick, visit the imprisoned, bury the dead, and give alms to the poor.

The good works of the resistance fighters saved countless lives. Those fighters lived out the Corporal Works of Mercy in a very literal way. They sheltered the homeless, gave food to the hungry, and visited the imprisoned. Their faith was strengthened because of their works. They had hope that good would win. Their charity gave them that hope.


The idea that good works earn salvation can be easily misinterpreted. Thanks to the Protestant Reformation, people had a hard time understanding the Catholic view of salvation. So, in the 1500s the bishops all got together to have a little meeting (the Council of Trent) to nail down the specifics of the Catholic view of how we get to heaven.

If we’re not careful with the way we think about it, it can seem like our good works are like coins. The more coins we store up, the easier we can buy our way into heaven. But, that’s not true.

Good works don’t earn us a spot in heaven. They simply help us to keep our faith in God true and our relationship with Him solid. It makes sense, too. If we believe that evil is always working to try to win us over, our work for good can help us resist.

So, while we can trust that God has saved us through the blood of His Son (side note: July is the month of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus, so this is a great month to focus on our salvation), we can also trust that our good works help along the way.

In both faith and works, we grow more closely united to Christ, who saves us simply because He wants to. He loves us. He wants us to be with Him for eternity. We are resistance fighters. Our good works of charity perfect our faith and give us hope to cling to the good.

KATIE FALEY is a member of St. Mark Parish in Peoria and a writing coordinator for OSF HealthCare. She has a master’s degree in theology and theological studies from the University of Notre Dame. Write to her at


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