Definition of grace
1 a : unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification
b : a virtue coming from God
c : a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine assistance
When we merit anything in the Catholic Church it is NOT strict merit, saying I did this____ now God, you owe me. It’s conduit merit…meaning we simply cooperate with the grace of God. He gets the glory and the credit/honor. I think non Catholic Christians typically misunderstand what the RCC means when the word merit is tossed around.
So, when the scriptures say get baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38), we do it and grace, being touched by God, actually occurs. I think non Catholics typically read Matthew 3:16 and think hey, manifestation of the Trinity…and that is true, but it’s also a demonstration of what actually happens to us when we as Christians follow Christ’s commands. We get touched by God. That’s all sacraments are…God reaching down and touching us through these pipelines that he has established for our benefit.
Think about how most of Christianity’s existence had most of our adherents who were illiterate. For many hundreds of years Christians were fed by both Word(hearing) and Sacrament.
Acts 2:42New International Version (NIV)
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
Luke 24:30-31New International Version (NIV)
30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight.
And according to Ignatius of Antioch, apprentice of the apostle John, The Eucharist is the medicine of immortality:
so that you obey the bishop and the presbytery with an undivided mind, breaking one and the same bread, which is the medicine of immortality, and the antidote to prevent us from dying, but [which causes] that we should live for ever in Jesus Christ.
So if the Church somehow got these things wrong, she must have been derailed right away.
The Lord be with you.