oriented to sanctifying grace and are intended for
the common good of the Church. God also acts
through many actual graces, to be distinguished
from habitual grace which is permanent in us.
We can have merit in God’s sight only because of
God’s free plan to associate man with the work of his
grace. Merit is to be ascribed in the first place to the
grace of God, and secondly to man’s collaboration.
Man’s merit is due to God.
The grace of the Holy Spirit can confer true merit on
us, by virtue of our adoptive filiation, and in accord
ance with God’s gratuitous justice. Charity is the
principal source of merit in us before God.
No one can merit the initial grace which is at the origin
of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit, we can merit
for ourselves and for others all the graces needed to
attain eternal life, as well as necessary temporal goods.
“All Christians . . . are called to the fullness of Chris
tian life and to the perfection of charity” (
40 § 2).
“Christian perfection has but one limit, that of having
none” (St. Gregory of Nyssa,
De vita Mos.:
“If any man would come after me, let him deny him
self and take up his cross and follow me” (
THE CHURCH, MOTHER AND TEACHER
It is in the Church, in communion with all the baptized,
that the Christian fulfills his vocation. From the Church he receives
the Word of God containing the teachings of “the law of Christ.”
From the Church he receives the grace of the sacraments that
sustains him on the “way.” From the Church he learns the
and recognizes its model and source in the all-holy Virgin
Mary; he discerns it in the authentic witness of those who live it; he
discovers it in the spiritual tradition and long history of the saints