Catholics; What is grace?

It seems like a simple question but extremely important, I think all Christians would agree on that point. What is grace? Not types of grace, but what in general?

The Greek word we see used is “charis” which I was always taught from scholars means “unmerited” or “unearned” favor. I’d like to ask here, and get a Catholic perspective on it. It seems that there is a slightly different take on “grace” between many protestants and the way the RCC teaches it, or speaks of it. Sometimes it can seem like grace is an actual substance or “thing.”

Also, one thing that interests me is when we read and offer to each other “grace and peace.” We see the Apostles signing off their letters with such, so does that instill something or mean something? If someone says “grace and peace” to you, does that bestow grace upon the recipient as you would see coming from sacraments?

Thanks for any views offered! :curtsey:

A gift from God.

When I think about all the things and ways, I’ve screwed things up in my life, and in the lives of others, treating people in ways they didn’t deserve, Grace is where, even when I feel ~terrible~ in my own self, I still smile and say Hello! =) and fake the smile that I wish I could Feel for myself, hoping they feel how much God loves Them, even if it feels like He hates Me.

Grace comes with living/practicing of the four Cardinal Virtues. Seldom is anyone born into grace unless it was Mary and her Son. It is acquired for most of us. It is a life long seeking of the graces that are available through true love for God. And I just wrote a blog about POPE FRANCIS- MAN OF GRACE. btw-there are seven virtues, not just four. Master them and self and you will be a person of grace.

FOR LYNXDK: It sounds more like guilt, contrition, and remorse that you feel, but it is a good start. You become a better person for it. Grace is something most of us work on most of our lives as it is the reservoir for the virtues. God bless and keep you.

From the catechism:


1996 Our justification comes from the grace of God. Grace is favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life.46

1997 Grace is a participation in the life of God. It introduces us into the intimacy of Trinitarian life: by Baptism the Christian participates in the grace of Christ, the Head of his Body. As an “adopted son” he can henceforth call God “Father,” in union with the only Son. He receives the life of the Spirit who breathes charity into him and who forms the Church.

1998 This vocation to eternal life is supernatural. It depends entirely on God’s gratuitous initiative, for he alone can reveal and give himself. It surpasses the power of human intellect and will, as that of every other creature.47

1999 The grace of Christ is the gratuitous gift that God makes to us of his own life, infused by the Holy Spirit into our soul to heal it of sin and to sanctify it. It is the sanctifying or deifying grace received in Baptism. It is in us the source of the work of sanctification:48

Therefore if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself.49

2000 Sanctifying grace is an habitual gift, a stable and supernatural disposition that perfects the soul itself to enable it to live with God, to act by his love. Habitual grace, the permanent disposition to live and act in keeping with God’s call, is distinguished from actual graces which refer to God’s interventions, whether at the beginning of conversion or in the course of the work of sanctification.

2001 The preparation of man for the reception of grace is already a work of grace. This latter is needed to arouse and sustain our collaboration in justification through faith, and in sanctification through charity. God brings to completion in us what he has begun, "since he who completes his work by cooperating with our will began by working so that we might will it:"50

Indeed we also work, but we are only collaborating with God who works, for his mercy has gone before us. It has gone before us so that we may be healed, and follows us so that once healed, we may be given life; it goes before us so that we may be called, and follows us so that we may be glorified; it goes before us so that we may live devoutly, and follows us so that we may always live with God: for without him we can do nothing.51

2002 God’s free initiative demands man’s free response, for God has created man in his image by conferring on him, along with freedom, the power to know him and love him. The soul only enters freely into the communion of love. God immediately touches and directly moves the heart of man. He has placed in man a longing for truth and goodness that only he can satisfy. The promises of “eternal life” respond, beyond all hope, to this desire:

If at the end of your very good works . . ., you rested on the seventh day, it was to foretell by the voice of your book that at the end of our works, which are indeed “very good” since you have given them to us, we shall also rest in you on the sabbath of eternal life.52

2003 Grace is first and foremost the gift of the Spirit who justifies and sanctifies us. But grace also includes the gifts that the Spirit grants us to associate us with his work, to enable us to collaborate in the salvation of others and in the growth of the Body of Christ, the Church. There are sacramental graces, gifts proper to the different sacraments. There are furthermore special graces, also called charisms after the Greek term used by St. Paul and meaning “favor,” “gratuitous gift,” "benefit."53 Whatever their character - sometimes it is extraordinary, such as the gift of miracles or of tongues - charisms are oriented toward sanctifying grace and are intended for the common good of the Church. They are at the service of charity which builds up the Church.54

2004 Among the special graces ought to be mentioned the graces of state that accompany the exercise of the responsibilities of the Christian life and of the ministries within the Church:

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; he who teaches, in his teaching; he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who contributes, in liberality; he who gives aid, with zeal; he who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.55

2005 Since it belongs to the supernatural order, grace escapes our experience and cannot be known except by faith. We cannot therefore rely on our feelings or our works to conclude that we are justified and saved.56 However, according to the Lord’s words "Thus you will know them by their fruits"57 - reflection on God’s blessings in our life and in the lives of the saints offers us a guarantee that grace is at work in us and spurs us on to an ever greater faith and an attitude of trustful poverty.

A pleasing illustration of this attitude is found in the reply of St. Joan of Arc to a question posed as a trap by her ecclesiastical judges: "Asked if she knew that she was in God’s grace, she replied: ‘If I am not, may it please God to put me in it; if I am, may it please God to keep me there.’"58

46 Cf. Jn 1:12-18; 17:3; Rom 8:14-17; 2 Pet 1:3-4.
47 Cf. 1 Cor 2:7-9.
48 Cf. Jn 4:14; 7:38-39.
49 2 Cor 5:17-18.
50 St. Augustine, De gratia et libero arbitrio, 17:PL 44,901.
51 St. Augustine, De natura et gratia, 31:PL 44,264.
52 St. Augustine, Conf. 13,36 51:PL 32,868; cf. Gen 1:31.
53 Cf. LG 12.
54 Cf. 1 Cor 12.
55 Rom 12:6-8.
56 Cf. Council of Trent (1547): DS 1533-1534.
57 Mt 7:20.
58 Acts of the trial of St. Joan of Arc.

Shame on me for not knowing all of this!

It’s not guilt =) I ~Trust~

Thank you for your kind words <3

Alternating sunshine and soft rain on our souls, to the deserving and non-deserving.

Grace to me is the dwelling of the Holy Spirit in our Souls. When Grace makes a place in our souls we experience great ‘Peace and Joy’. We receive grace in the sacraments because when we desire grace and show that we desire that grace in the sacraments, the grace comes freely through it. It’s saying to Jesus yes I want you in my soul and we open the door to grace which is always given freely to those who want it. Of course we receive grace from many things, but the sacraments were instituted by Christ for the purpose of receiving grace in a communal way, because communally we become one with the body of Christ, so the holy spirit from others can’t help but be passed from others so that it enters our soul. When two or more gather in His name He is there among them. We can always experience more Grace, which gives us more peace and joy…Grace is one of those eternal things of God that has no limitations.



Grace = God’s Power.

hi, … grace is strength…
Father Monfort-explains-of the Rosary, advising don’t forget to ask for a certain grace when praying an intention on the Rosary; in context, so must be understood as -a spiritual gift given just at the right time in a person’s life, very specific and particular to the person/father Thomas Merton, in one of his book (Perhaps, that as i recall ‘Life and Holiness’) -…to para quote: .grace could be compared to the professional athletic ice skater-with a spiritual grace-there is a beauty of movement, of accuracy and skill…while some one who prays might have received something to show the skill of the spiritual athlete, that otherwise a soul would not be able to do on his own; then a personal opinion might suffice-grace to pray, grace to give thanks, grace to give praise, grace to listen-some how, no matter what the stressful reality, no matter the risk and threat to one’s life-there is a grace waiting, despite not knowing what it is at the moment. Perhaps it could be evidence of the action of the Holy Spirit-proof of a spiritual life-evidence that one is spiritually alive, to sing with Hope, to speak with Faith, to act with a great love…thx patrick

There is more than one definition of the word. Grace can mean something good we are given that we don’t deserve. Or it can mean specifically sanctifying (saving) grace, which is God’s own life given to us by Him. We receive this grace ordinarily through the Sacraments: confession, the Eucharist, confirmation, matrimony, holy orders, baptism, and anointing of the sick. The only two received frequently would be confession and Jesus in the Eucharist.

A free and unmerited gift from God that that makes us holy and pleasing to him and enables us to share in his Divine life.

Know that God always loves you no matter what, no matter how you feel. He loves you exactly as you are right now. (Love meaning Charity. Meaning He will always do what’s best for you)

Is grace an actual substance or thing?

No! Grace is not a substance. This is a common misconception of Catholic teaching. You should read the question of Summa Theologica on the essence of grace.

Grace is a word with multiple meanings. Thomas identifies three: (1) favor, (2) a gift freely given, and (3) the gratitude of the recipient. Protestants acknowledge the first, which is the Divine favor. However, Catholics also speak of sanctifying grace, which is something in us (given freely and unmerited by God) which “draws the rational creature above the condition of its nature to a participation of the Divine good.” Finally, this grace brings us to give love back to God, which was the third aspect of grace spoken of earlier. He also refuted the idea that grace is either merely God’s favor or the remission of sins.

Much more could be said about that, but if you understand that there is an idea of sanctifying grace, that is enough for now. To finally answer your question, grace is not a substance as if God were pouring some kind of spiritual goop into us. It is an accidental quality that God effects in the soul of the renewed man that allows him to love God. It is also metaphorically called the “beauty” of the soul because God’s grace makes us pleasing in his sight. Beauty in a person is not a substance, but that quality which makes its subject beautiful.

As for your question about the Bible, the Bible does not instill grace in the soul the same a way a sacrament like baptism does. It is merely a wish for grace and peace. It is like me wishing you good health.

Thank you to all who have answered thus far. I wanted your perspectives and appreciate all of them, esp. the references to Catholic resources.

Keep in mind, I’m not claiming Protestants view grace differently, but I think we talk of grace and graces differently.

Grace (;)) and Peace to y’all,

Grace is God reaching down to you & giving you a big hug & drawing you to Himself.

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