Could you explain the underlying concept of freely given grace but only to Catholics?

A Protestant posed a question very similar to this one. He wants to know how to God gives us grace freely within the sacraments yet only Catholics (besides certain eastern Christian groups) can receive this within the sacraments. How can I explain to him that God still gives His sanctifying graces freely while still using the sacraments?

The sacraments within the RCC bestow “sanctifying” grace to the soul that receives them. If you belong to another denomination that does not have “sacraments,” these persons have no opportunity to receive sanctifying grace. However, God will continue to bestow “actual graces” to help them grow in their union with God and follow His will. It will depend on their ability to listen to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit.

Correct. The technical term for this is prevenient Grace.

Most protestant faiths practice valid Christian Baptism, which is how we receive Sanctifying Grace in the first place. It can only be lost through mortal sin. That’s where Catholics have the advantage: we have ready recourse to Sacramental Confession, which restores us to a State of Grace.

Since protestants don’t have Confession they’re not in a good position if they commit mortal sin. The Church has not taught whether it is “easy” or “hard” for a person of good will to fall into mortal sin. For their sake, I pray it’s hard.

God does not withhold Grace from anyone. Anyone may become Catholic. It’s free, just like God’s Grace.

Thanks. I used the term in the Catechism, since it may be slightly more familiar to most people who read these posts. [And for us old-timers, we memorized it in the Baltimore Catechism during grade school. :p]

2024 Sanctifying grace makes us “pleasing to God.” … God also acts through many actual graces, to be distinguished from habitual grace which is permanent in us.

But the CCC also references your word in #2670.

This entire line of questioning seems to turn our faith into a game.

We all know that life is not a game.

We do not suppose so much. We simply believe the words of Christ and chose to stand close to them.

God is of course free to dispense Grace as he wants.

First off, like the Catechism says, we are bound by the sacraments, but God himself is not. He can bestow grace anyway he chooses. But then what are the sacraments for? What’s the point? They are sure encounters of that grace. God made us, he knows we are physical and spiritual beings, so that’s why he chooses to interact with us in this way.

Just think about how God chose to save us from sin and reveal himself. He could have chosen to reveal himself “directly.” He could have ignored creation and instead just saved in a purely spiritual way. But instead, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” God comes to us physically. He physically touched us and bore our wounds. God loves matter. That’s what the incarnation tells us.

The sacraments are simply an extension of the incarnation. God uses matter to communicate his life to us. They are the sure means God established to bestow his grace on us. But again, **he himself is not limited to them. ** Just like he was not limited by the physical location of Christ’s physical body. He could heal the centurion’s servant at a distance, he can give grace to those who are at a “distance” from the visible bounds of His Church. Those who are open to his grace yet don’t have the opportunity to receive them. The good thief is a good example of this.

With all that said, that doesn’t mean the sacraments aren’t important or necessary, they are. God made them, and we can’t just ignore them. If we knowingly reject the sacraments, then we can’t receive his grace. Because what we’re doing is rejecting God’s plan.

I’m not sure this is correct. It’s true that other denominations don’t have the fullness of grace that comes from receiving the Eucharist and the other sacraments which God wants us to have. But Baptism is the ordinary way we get sanctifying grace initially, and the Church recognizes that Protestant baptisms are valid.

So it would seem that it is indeed possible to receive sanctifying grace in other denominations, at least through baptism.

Please understand that I acknowledge their sacrament of baptism, through which they receive the Holy Spirit. That is elementary Catholic teaching. But the sacraments of Penance and Holy Eucharist are supernatural helps to maintain the grace of baptism, which these denominations do not possess.

I agree that God is not limited to sacramental help and He may bestow grace in other ways, but that bestowal is not “sanctifying” grace - it is “actual” grace by which a person lives in close spiritual communion with God. As the Church has *also *taught, yes, it may prevail for their justification. This is also scriptural, Romans 2:12-16.
I’m not sure what your point was, but essentially, I agree with you.

Jesus Christ founded His Church and Instituted the Sacraments. This is the way Jesus set it up. Unfortunately, some men in the 16th century didn’t like the way He set it up and decided to ‘lean on their own understanding’. We know, therefore, that Grace is inside His Church. We know where Grace is, we do not know where it isn’t.

God is merciful and might give them grace, we just don’t know.

Sorry, about that, I must have misunderstood you. :o I thought you were saying not even baptism was valid in other denominations. I see what you’re saying now though and you’re right, we agree. :slight_smile:

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