Here’s an article for those of you who have seen the eleventh episode of Erased. Don’t read the article if you haven’t seen it yet! The opening of this episode, where they talk about the near salvation of a fiendish man, contained a very familiar story for me: a better version is told in Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov. In that case, the story described a wicked old woman whose sole good deed was to throw an onion at a beggar. After damnation, her guardian angel gains her a second chance to ascend to heaven through holding onto this onion. The story ends the same way as the one told in Erased with the moral that no one is saved alone.
There exists a Pelagian sentiment that people are saved solely by works, but neither your Catholic blogger nor the Orthodox Dostoyevsky believes that. We are saved through the free gift of God. However, this does not mean that goods works done by those outside of sanctifying grace are worthless. Indeed, the Roman Cornelius and his family were given the Holy Spirit and later baptism for their almsgiving (Acts 10:4). Such good works better dispose a person for accepting sanctifying grace. While in a state of grace, it is possible to perform good works which will receive recompense from God and increase one’s holiness. The will is strengthened in its resolve to do good, to cleave unto the Will of God, and to be found faithful to graces received. One need not have merely one thread connecting us to heaven, but many strands, ropes, and cables besides! Our Lord once declared to St. Faustina that a soul can do so many works of mercy that it will not be judged–but few are the souls who so dedicate themselves to mercy!
Yashiro, the villain of Erased, takes the exact opposite path. He delights in snipping the threads which might connect him to God. The good he does for others are so tainted by his evil intentions that nothing he does is worthy of being called a good work! Rather than preparing himself for God’s mercy, he uses the occasions for good to actively thwart God’s plan of salvation! He has the illusion that each of his victims has a thread possibly connecting him to heaven, and he gleefully snips each thread along with his victims’ lives.
The infusion of saving grace is called justification, walking the path of holiness is called sanctification, and doing what Yashiro does falls into the pattern of reprobation. God gives every soul sufficient grace for salvation and indeed even pursues poor sinners so that they might not be eternally lost. But, God does eventually reprobate some men, i.e. He no longer sends them the grace of conversion. Nothing is unfair or even unmerciful about this, because it tends to happen only after a soul continuously refuses God’s grace. And , unlike predestination, the cause of a man’s damnation is not God but his own sin. The deaf man does not want to hear, the blind man does not want to see, and the slave does not want freedom. (See St. Thomas Aquinas’ clearer explanation of reprobation.)
Curiously, I wonder whether Yashiro is no longer a reprobate. He has declined snipping the thread he saw above Satoru’s head and even aided him in coming out of his fifteen year coma. He still sees this thread. The question the finale will settle for us is whether he is yet incapable of repentance or will somehow give up his evil ways. Can’t wait for the final episode!
N.B. If you want to see the inner workings of a reprobate soul, I can’t help but recommend reading this Letter from a Soul in Hell. The Church has said it shows sound doctrine, even though they have not certified its origin. It’s good to read at least once.
Remember! Easter is one week from this Sunday and Divine Mercy Sunday comes the Sunday after that!