Common Grace

Does our church believe in common Grace?

I know there are a few different interrpretations of Grace.

We are taught we need to seek Grace from Christ to help us stay on the right path. But what of the people who have a belief, but don’t believe in our Catholic faith, but do live as good a life as possible, would this be the common Grace working in them?

I think of grace as a force for good.This force is a gift of God to all, but it does not have the same effect on all. It’s as if there is a current of electrical strength passing from the fingers of God into our souls. But the current is of different strength according to how each of us is wired to receive it. I know this is a poor and faulty analogy.

With sanctifying grace God has turned up the voltage.

As a child, I learned that Sanctifying Grace is God working within us. God is present in us because in the State of Sanctifying Grace, we share in the Divine Life of the Trinity. Back then, when I had a pet dinosaur, there was Actual Grace which was God helping us, etc. etc. etc. Today, a brief search finds different names, like Sacramental graces, which to me sounds just like the original Actual Grace.

To me, when I heard the word common coupled with grace from God, I considered that the gift can be received by anyone.
It is a gift common to all.

My favorite mental picture is Christ dining with “sinners.” Personally, I think sinners tell better jokes. Today, Christ still joins people whatever they are doing. He still is offering His actual graces to all in common. My second favorite mental picture is Christ, the God Shepherd, looking under bushes for sinners and those of us who are shy. I can imagine Him leaving a bowl of “grace” by the bush.

Special note. Even good people, even Saints, need lots of bowls filled with grace.
One can’t do good on an empty spirit.

Information source. [FONT=Arial]CCC, Glossary, Grace, page 881; CCC, Glossary, Sanctifying Grace, page 898; CCC, Glossary, Mortal Sin, page 889; [/FONT]
[FONT=Arial]CCC, Index, grace, page 801; [/FONT]

and granny’s imagination ;).

What is “common Grace”? I searched the Catechism and there no instance where this phase is used.

I was searching for universal Grace, but common grace came up, also known as Prevenient grace. I haven’t yet looked at the CCC.

The reason I was searching universal grace is I some times hear someone comment "by the grace of God, I was helped in A, B or C. But some of these people don’t practise our faith, they have their way of worship, but obviously believe they were helped by God, that they were given Grace to strengthen them etc.

We rely on the sacraments to be given Grace, maybe its a top up on Grace that is already there?

Based on the Catholic Encyclopedia and the Catechism, this would be called actual grace.

We rely on the sacraments to be given Grace, maybe its a top up on Grace that is already there?

The other type of grace refered to by Church teaching is sanctifying grace.


Ok Actual Grace…This is what all are born with? My question was pointing to All people, so jews and muslims who worship the same God as we do, are given Grace from God also. They obviously do not have our practise of the sacraments, but can live in holiness as much as we can.
So there is where I wondered that grace can be given without the sacraments, to many other peoples of faith.

Given that we are born with the stain of original sin, we are born with the absence of sanctifying grace. The Sacraments provide sanctifying grace. Actual graces are the Divine helps that we receive to help us do good and avoid evil.

The articles in the Catholic Encyclopedia on Actual Grace and Sanctifying Grace are quite complex but may provide more backgroung on these conclusions of mine.

Yes I know that the sacraments provide grace, but my question is about other faiths receiving grace from God to live good and holy lives.

Thanks anyway. :thumbsup:

John 3:16-17

World means the whole world of humankind.

Obviously, not everyone in the world knows Jesus Christ; yet, God continues to give them graces to seek Truth. Some respond in the best way they can. Others turn away. The Good Shepherd may not be known. Nonetheless, the Good Shepherd has excellent eyesight and He does find those in hiding or those who are very timid. The Good Shepherd has excellent hearing and He does hear the first sob from a hurting heart.

As for non-Christians, including atheists, the Good Shepherd gives the graces that fit their individual personalities. There are graces for kindness, honesty, loving others, and especially for seeking Truth. Graces for giving up one’s life for one’s country. Or giving up one’s life so children can be saved from drowning. There are graces for teachers and librarians, construction workers and bankers.

When a person needs the Good Shepherd’s gift of grace, Jesus does not first check the religion label. On the other hand, those who seek to live holy lives will often find the Good Shepherd in the Catholic Sacraments.

To answer your question, God gives His graces to every person. These would be considered actual graces. Sacramental graces include the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist. The graces before, during, and after the Sacrament of Confession/Reconciliation are truly special. Often when I visited the sick in the hospital and the spouse was there, I would suggest asking God for the graces of the Sacrament of Matrimony. You can imagine the look I received when the couple had been married for over 50 years. Then the light bulb went on and they joined me in prayer.

I’m not familiar with the term “common grace,” but Vatican II’s constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium) states (no. 16) :

… Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience.(19*) Nor does Divine Providence deny the helps necessary for salvation to those who, without blame on their part, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God and with His grace strive to live a good life. Whatever good or truth is found amongst them is looked upon by the Church as a preparation for the Gospel.

It is important to read this passage in context, which is the Church’s mission to preach the gospel. The passage above is not at all a declaration of Universalism. As a matter of fact, the same document says (no. 14) :

the Church, now sojourning on earth as an exile, is necessary for salvation. …] Whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter or to remain in it, could not be saved.


Yes John 3:16-17 says about the world so it would mean everyone, but it also says whoever believes in him (Christ) would be saved. Jews/Muslims do not accept Christ as a saviour, (but pray to him in a sense because he was God in human form.)

Maybe this is enough for God in a way, and not part taking in baptism to be saved…Just thinking out loud…

By the way, what was the name of your dinosaur? :wink:


Yes I often wonder about our brothers and sisters who pray to the same God as us, but yet our church would say something like that.

Dino Jr.
Fred and Wilma gave him to me.

“Yabba-Dabba-Doo!” :smiley:

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.


“Common grace” is a Calvinist approximation of Catholic doctrine.

The Catholic view is that all creation is good because God made it, and that the Fall did not destroy that good. God still sustains creation and enables people to do all sorts of good things.

Furthermore, people who are not yet regenerate may experience God’s “prevenient grace”–grace moving them toward regeneration.

Calvinists, on the other hand, teach that people are “totally depraved”–that while they may do things that are apparently “good” and have some value for this life, this goodness has no real value in God’s eyes. This state of depravity persists up to the point at which God regenerates a person.

In some versions of Calvinism, this could create a highly pessimistic attitude to culture and to any attempt to make this life better. If it’s all evil outside the fold of the regenerate, then what’s the point? (That isn’t the view of the sixteenth-century Reformers themselves, in my opinion.) So in the 19th century, the Dutch Calvinist theologian and politician Abraham Kuyper taught that God’s “common grace” pervades the world and enables all kinds of good things that don’t, in themselves, lead to salvation, but do have genuine value.

This is coming back by a roundabout route to what Catholics were saying all along, in my opinion. So Catholics don’t need the specific construct of “common grace,” which is a Calvinist way of getting around the disturbing implications of their own mistaken belief in total depravity, but they do agree wholeheartedly with what Kuyperian Calvinists mean when they talk about “common grace.” (Indeed, the Kuyperian tradition of Calvinism is, in my opinion, generally the closest to Catholicism, unless we count Anglicanism as a form of Calvinism.)

The major difference is that for Catholics, if I’m not mistaken, all God’s actions in the world are at least potentially oriented toward our salvation. At least that’s a position a Catholic may hold. There’s no need to say, “But of course the good things that unregenerate people achieve have nothing to do with salvation.” They are all potentially “prevenient” means by which God is bringing people to Himself. The Calvinist dichotomy is unnecessary.


There have been 5 systems of grace made by Catholics. None have been deemed required by the magisterial office of the church.

None have been deemed required by the magisterial office of the church.:confused:

There are two many graces for me! Why not just the one, like the one true God. Of course maintaining SG would only come through the sacraments. AG anyone and everyone can have.

Because we are multiple faceted beings. One size does not fit all, in this case.

AG anyone and everyone can have.

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