Today's reading from the 2 chapter of Ephesians reminds us again of the distance between what people think Catholics believe and what the Church actually teaches. We hear in the Letter to the Ephesians,
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so no one may boast.
Wasn't the the crux of the Protestant/Catholic debate? Not really.
Again I would point anyone to the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
The grace of the Holy Spirit has the power to justify us, that is, to cleanse us from our sins and to communicate to us “the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ” and through Baptism
But even faith is a gift from God. The Catechism goes on to say,
With justification, faith, hope, and charity are poured into our hearts, and obedience to the divine will is granted us.
Notice that even our obedience is something granted to us. We cooperate with grace, but only with the help of grace.
So, what do we do?
When God touches man’s heart through the illumination of the Holy Spirit, man himself is not inactive while receiving that inspiration, since he could reject it; and yet, without God’s grace, he cannot by his own free will move himself toward justice in God’s sight.
There may be many issues which we Christians debate, but no one should doubt what we believe about the centrality of grace. As our culture becomes more and more obsessed with power and individualism, it seems to me that more and more we need to be reminded that it is God's work and not ours. At our best we are cooperators.