This may be nothing more than a very poor analogy thought up during the middle of a sleepless night, but:
Perhaps salvation can be thought of as washing clothes. Imagine that you have been invited to a royal wedding feast, but your clothes are sullied and soiled.
If you didn’t know any better, you might get very lucky, and fall into a body of water (i.e. river, lake, etc.). That would assume that you live near said body and were upon it. But it is still remotely possible for the clothes to come out clean enough to be admitted to the feast. This can be thought of as those who are invincibly ignorant of the Gospel. They could make it to Heaven, but it is a very long shot - definitely not a sure winner.
If you’re in the know, then you realize that soap will get those clothes clean. You get the washtub, washboard, and soap and clean those clothes up. They are nice and clean and you are admitted to the feast. Of course, the harder you scrub, the cleaner your clothes and the closer to the bride and groom you sit. The soap is Jesus, and the washing is the virtue we exercise because of our faith in Him.
If you’re really smart, you use a washing machine. This gets those clothes absolutely sparkling and not only are you admitted and get to sit close to the bride and groom, but you might be asked to carve. The soap is still Jesus. The washing machine is Mary. She helps us to more easily exercise virtue for Him, through Him, with Him, in Him. She helps us to be as close as we can to the Bridegroom Who is Jesus.