As Session 6 of the Council of Trent states:
Council of Trent (Session 6)
It is furthermore declared that in adults the beginning of that justification must proceed from the predisposing grace of God through Jesus Christ, that is, . . . without any merits on their part, they are called; . . .
. . . none of those things which precede justification-whether faith or works-merit the grace itself of justification.
After we are justified things change though (we have channels of grace that we did not have before we were justified).
Our natural faith, hope, and charity now in a sense become supercharged by grace (see CCC 1813).
But this all begins (but does not end) with Baptism.
We are justified by several causes. The instrumental cause is of course Baptism. It is through Baptism that we get our natural faith (or the faith of our parents speaking on our behalf for us if we are being Baptized as an infant) in a sense “supernaturalized” which we do need (we need the supernatural life that Baptism renders including supernatural faith, hope, and charity).
Baptism removes us from a state of separation from God, removes Adam’s sin (or Original Sin), removes personal sin, and removes the consequences of sin. But you can only have Baptism once.
Let’s briefly review the causes of our justification before going on.
*]Final Cause = Glory of God and Jesus Christ and Life Everlasting
*]Efficient Cause is God (giving us) the Holy Spirit
*]Meritorious cause is our Lord Jesus Christ, . . . by His most holy Passion on the wood of the cross, and made satisfaction for us unto God the Father
*]Instrumental Cause the instrumental cause is the sacrament of baptism, which is the sacrament of faith, without which (faith) no man was ever justified.
*]Formal cause is the justice of God . . . .
For further details see Chapter 7 of the Sixth Session of Trent here.
When we are Baptized we receive supernatural faith, hope, and charity (or “love”).
COUNCIL OF TRENT (Chapter Six, Session 7) This faith, conformably to Apostolic tradition, catechumens ask of the Church before the sacrament of baptism, when they ask for the faith that gives eternal life, which without hope and charity faith cannot give.
See also CCC 1266 and 1813.
This grace of a supernatural faith is WHY Baptism is sometimes called “The Sacrament of Faith”. During the Baptismal liturgy when the Priest asks (an adult) what they want of the Church the catechumen responds: “Baptism”. But an appropriate alternative response in the Western Liturgical Rite by the catechumen is “faith” (see here or see CCC 168).
Now that we are justified through Christ (via Baptism), we are expected to GROW in justification according to our state in life (obviously an adult will be expected to carry out works an infant will not).
COUNCIL OF TRENT
THE INCREASE OF THE JUSTIFICATION RECEIVED
Having, therefore, been thus justified and made the friends and domestics of God, advancing from virtue to virtue, they are renewed, as the Apostle says, day by day, that is, mortifying the members of their flesh, and presenting them as instruments of justice unto sanctification, they, through the observance of the commandments of God and of the Church, faith cooperating with good works, increase in that justice received through the grace of Christ and are further justified, as it is written:
[INDENT]He that is just, let him be justified still; and, Be not afraid to be justified even to death; and again, Do you see that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only?[/INDENT]
OK. So once we have the initial grace of justification are we expected to GROW in justification via grace? Fortunately the Council of Trent answers this too.
COUNCIL OF TRENT (Chapter XI) But no one, however much justified, should consider himself exempt from the observance of the commandments;
This is all takes place by cooperating with God’s grace. I have heard Steve Wood refer to these “works” as “Grace works”.
So a natural faith, etc. is not good enough for justification. Nothing we can merit on our own is good enough.
But once we are in grace, we are expected to grow in justification through grace, including the graces of a supernatural faith, abounding in hope, and working through charity. We MUST have faith working in charity (assuming we are capable - i.e. an adult) to persevere in our salvation in fact.
This is WHY St. Paul can say:
GALATIANS 5:6 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any avail, but faith working through love.