I’m really exploring the Catholic faith of late (going to mass, reading the CCC, reading the Bible in a whole new light, reading authors like Scott Hahn and Steve Ray, etc.)
I was also going through some of the Catholic Answers Live archives, and heard Tim Staples mention that it is correct to say that we are saved “by grace alone.”
I was really excited by this idea, and it completely reconciles all of the questions I’ve been wrestling with concerning faith and works. It also seem to agree with the CCC, and the section on “merit.”
Recently, however, I’ve seen some Protestant claims to this idea of “grace alone” that say the Catholic Church does not teach this idea.
So my understanding is this:
Without the graces of God, we are incapable of turning in faith toward Him. God extends these graces freely toward all people. Through our free will, however, we can choose (or choose not) to cooperate with these graces. By this we come to faith in Jesus.
It is by faith that we continue to receive the graces of God. Once again, our free will allows us to choose whether or not we will accept these graces and perform the works that God desires. Our cooperation with all such graces are termed “merit.”
I know there are probably more than a few subtilties to this that I’ve left out, but is this a correct understanding of Catholic teaching?