William James argued at length that God’s interaction with the person occurred primarily within the subconscious. The fact he was trying to account for was how conversion reframes and re-organizes all the facts of experience. The conversion is not like becoming aware of some new fact among facts but is more like waking up. You don’t just keep your old life and add to it a thought like “God exists” or “love is the foundation of all things” or “death is not the end” – it’s that the forces that structure conscious thought re-align so that the full force of ideas like this can be seen. To tell the story of such a subconscious re-alignment makes it clear that it is both an interruption in the story and yet that it somehow makes sense in light of the antecedent events. Flannery O’Connor made an entire career out of telling such stories.
All this is in keeping with Thomas’s axiom that grace builds on nature, where “nature” is here being understood in the sense of that force that works with reasons, but beneath conscious awareness. Seen in this way, the impossibility of accomplishing salvation by works becomes immediately apparent – to accomplish things in this way we need to be conscious of them. Faith comes from hearing in the sense that it’s content we can accept the truth of after the forces that shape and structure our consciousness have a fundamental re-alignment. The fact that we’re born broken and wounded so that we don’t just spontaneously see this, and that we can lose sight of it even after a conversion, is original sin as a psychological fact.