And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." And Mary said to the angel, "How will this be, since I am a virgin?" And the angel answered her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy--the Son of God."
I see Gabriel telling Mary what will happen, not predicated on her acceptance of the offer. (All emphasis added).
For me the difference is like this: "morning" is defined as when the sun comes up. Now, whenever the sun comes up it gets light. It gets light as a natural, inevitable result of the sun coming up. "Morning" doesn't happen because it gets light -- morning happens because the sun comes up. Our salvation doesn't happen because of our good works, instead, our works happen as a natural, inevitable result of God's grace -- we obey Him out of love and gratitude, not as a requirement for salvation.
You wrote not as a requirement for salvation. How do you explain the last judgement scene (Mt 25:31-46)?
Also going back to the original article We Have Cast Aside Our Real Power!, if everyone voted for candidates who had always a voting record of voting against all the principles of the 10 commandments and the Gospel, everything would turn out the same even if everyone always voted for candidates who had always a voting record of voting in favor of all the principles of the 10 commandments and the Gospel!?! Are you in agreement with this statement???
Can I offer a little insight by talking about what is merit? This might help us see better where we both are coming from, our differences, and to be able to distinguish the differences.
The term “merit” refers in general to the recompense owed by a community or a society for the action of one of its members, experienced either as beneficial or harmful, deserving reward or punishment. Merit is relative to the virtue of justice, in conformity with the principle of equality which governs it.
I agree with you that with regard to God, there is no strict right to any merit on the part of man. Between God and us there is an immeasurable inequality, for we have received everything from him, our Creator.
The merit of man before God in the Christian life arises from the fact that God has freely chosen to associate man with the work of his grace (emphasis added!). The fatherly action of God is first on his own initiative, and then follows man’s free acting through his collaboration, so that the merit of good works is to be attributed in the first place to the grace of God, then to the faithful. Man’s merit, moreover, itself is due to God, for his good actions proceed in Christ, from the predispositions and assistance given by the Holy Spirit.
Filial adoption, in making us partakers by grace in the divine nature, can bestow true merit on us as a result of God’s gratuitous justice. This is our right by grace, the full right of love, making us “co-heirs” with Christ and worthy of obtaining the promised inheritance of eternal life. The merits of our good works are gifts of the divine goodness. As Augustine wrote: “Grace has gone before us; now we are given what is due. . . . Our merits are God’s gifts.”
Since the initiative belongs to God in the order of grace, no one can merit the initial grace of forgiveness and justification, at the beginning of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life. Even temporal goods like health and friendship can be merited in accordance with God’s wisdom. These graces and goods are the object of Christian prayer. Prayer attends to the grace we need for meritorious actions.
The charity of Christ is the source in us of all our merits before God. Grace, by uniting us to Christ in active love, ensures the supernatural quality of our acts and consequently their merit before God and before men. Thus it is true that our merits are pure grace.
Among other points, I think this last sentence we might be in agreement.
Please have patience because I live in Italy and I am going to bed. I will certainly be happy to reply to your post or anyone elses post tomorrow. Have a nice day!