All is grace
St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus said "All is grace" as she lay dying of tuberculosis.
In our human relationships, we are conditioned to think that we earn love by doing well. The student with good grades is honored. Rock stars and other media greats are praised because of their performances. Beauty beautifully revealed draws attention and devotion. In our relationship with God, the beginning of love is in Him, not in us: "Save me and [THEN] I will do your will" (Ps 119:46). Nothing we could ever do merits God the Son taking flesh within Mary's womb; no beauty in us causes the Son to empty Himself in His agony, suffering, and death. As Fr. Tom Rowland puts it, "God acts--we react." He lifts us up and fills us with His divine life so that all of our potential for goodness and beauty can be fulfilled.
Against the Semi-Pelagians
This is not a job for Superman. It is a job for GOD. I cannot relieve myself of the bondage of self. I cannot even diagnose my need for deliverance without God's grace at work in me.
The horizon of grace
This, I think, is Rahner's "supernatural existential."
Where there is goodness, there is grace. Elizabeth and John before Jesus died, before the Spirit was given. Inspiration of the authors of the OT. Lives of the OT saints. John the Baptist. True also of any religion or philosophy in the world: where there is goodness, there is grace, God triumphing over sin through the death and resurrection of Jesus, our Lord.
Where there is goodness, there is grace. Were it not for the grace of God's love lavished upon His children, we would all be completely corrupted by the power of sin. Where we see people acting with wisdom and love, we know it is GOD's power at work in them that causes them to die to self an bear much fruit, whether that is in the saints, prophets, and authors of the Old Testament or in great men and women of other religious traditions, past or present, who have cooperated with the light of Christ without knowing Who it was who was drawing them upward.
To exist is a grace. To think is a grace. To long for truth, beauty, and goodness is a grace. To recognize how we fall short of the glory of God is a grace. To persevere for the love of the good is a grace. Christians know something about grace that others do not know. We know at what cost the Father, Son, and Spirit opened the doors of loving kindness to us. We do not deserve to understand the mystery hidden from before all time (Col 1:26). This, too, is a grace.
- "Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things" (Phil 4:8).
No grace, no merit
Protestors like to chant, "No justice, no peace." I'd like to teach Catholics to chant, "No grace, no merit." The thought that we could do anything pleasing to God and worthy of His praise without the help of His love is pure Pelagianism masquerading as devotion. If we could merit glory without God's help, we wouldn't need GOD. Grace and merit are not opposites; they are complementaries. God does not send us away from Him to make ourselves worthy of Him; he pitches His tent within us and occupies us while He renovates us. Stamp your feet with me now: "No grace, no merit! No grace, no merit! No grace, no merit!"