From Wikipedia: Common Grace is a theological concept in Protestant Christianity, primarily in Reformed and Calvinistic circles, referring to the grace of God that is either common to all humankind, or common to everyone within a particular sphere of influence (limited only by unnecessary cultural factors). It is common because its benefits are experienced by, or intended for, the whole human race without distinction between one person and another. It is grace because it is undeserved and sovereignly bestowed by God. In this sense, it is distinguished from the Calvinistic understanding of special or saving grace, which extends only to those whom God has chosen to redeem.
My view of Grace:
In my study of grace I found that grace can be found described as: sanctifying, habitual, actual, efficacious, efficient, sanating, sufficient, justifying, gratuitous, sacramental, and probably a couple of others that I am not aware of. Apparently the definition of each is fair game for any theologian that cares to address the subject and consequently there is much overlapping of meanings.
However, to make sense of the subject I found it beneficial to attempt a separation and categorization, keeping in mind the general definition that grace is a gift from God freely given that can be used or rejected. With that in mind we can recognize three main categories: sanctifying, actual, and sacramental. The main distinction between sanctifying grace and actual is that the former is permanently given and the latter is temporarily given to address certain situations that confront us. Sacramental grace can be either permanent as is baptism or temporary as is penance.
Sanctifying Grace, the spiritual state of being infused by God, which permanently inheres in the soul and induces justification (our path from original sin to Godliness) by orientating one’s life toward God. The most prominent form is Habitual Grace, which is manifested in us as a gift of the mental state called ‘wonder’. We accept this gift through our actions such as study, contemplation, and discovery, which when focused on God’s other gifts of life and the beauty our milieu, is rewarded with a feeling of “awe”.
Sacramental Grace, the spiritual state infused by God through reception of the sacraments, is manifested in us as a mental state called “piety”. We accept this gift through are actions such as worship and prayer, which when accomplished sincerely is rewarded with a feeling of “peace”. Justifying Grace is Sacramental Grace that restores a person to God’s friendship such as the grace received for the first time as in baptism or after baptism in penance. Gratuitous Grace is Sacramental Grace that is given to particular persons for the salvation of others such as the sacrament of Holy Orders that confers the priest power of consecration and absolution and the Sacrament of Matrimony, which in my case conferred my wife with the grace to influence my salvation.
Actual Grace, the spiritual state temporarily infused by God to enlighten the mind or strengthen the will to perform actions that increase one’s justification, is manifested in us as a mental state called “love”. Love induces a wide variety of actions, which can be generalized as the action of “sacrifice”. True sacrifice always is rewarded with a feeling of “joy”. *Sufficient Grace *is Actual Grace that may or may not be accepted . *Efficient *or Efficacious Grace is Actual Grace that has been accepted and acted upon through sacrifice and is rewarded with a feeling of joy. *Sanating *Grace is the Actual Grace in its function of healing the ravages of sin, original and personal, in human nature.
This is my personal “philosophical” approach to making some meaning of the concept of Grace and I will back off anything I have written that may conflict with the theological view. However I will not depart from the practice of wonder, piety (I am a practicing Catholic), and sacrifice that has given me a lifetime of awe, peace, and joy.