I am not Catholic but I am studying Catholicism in an effort to explore the call that I feel toward it.
My question regards the CCC and its discussion of merit. Am I correct in understanding that the Catholic Church believes that the meritorious part of any good work is only the grace which is infused into it?
For example if I give money to charity, then when the Catholic Church discusses a reward which is due to that work, it is strictly referring to the divine grace which prompted the work, which exists in the work and which is increased (by God’s free choice) by the work. In other words, it is God which is meriting God’s reward, but God out of charity and love is attributing the reward to us, the vehicle but not the driver.
It is like when a man adopts a stranger’s child into his household as a son. The actions of the child now merit the reward due to a son, but only by the free association of the man with the child, only by virtue of his adoption and not by anything the child has himself done or could ever do.
I apologize if it sounds like I am thinking out loud, but I would be very interested in comments to make sure I understand the Catholic viewpoint. Coming from a Protestant background and looking into Catholicism, the issue of grace and merit are very important to me. Thank you for your time