Questions about actual grace.


#1

Would it be correct to say that any sin in ones life is a direct reflection of not having enough actual grace? (i.e. if you were to increase your actual grace sin would decrease.) If that is true, would I be correct in saying one of our primary goals in life is to access actual grace in order that we might be changed from within?

If that is true, could you tell me the different ways of accessing that Grace and if some are more powerful than anothers. For instance I assume sacraments are more powerful than reading a book about our faith but is that what the church teaches specifically and why. The reason I’m asking is that I teach CCD and want to talk about actual grace, but I want to make sure I’m giving accurate information.

Thank you.


#2

Would it be correct to say that any sin in ones life is a direct reflection of not having enough actual grace?

I once read a question from someone, they were asking if the Virgin Mary was actually born without original sin. The priest who answered said that since she is said to be “Full of Grace” (in the Hail Mary prayer) that she wasn’t born with original sin.

Would I be correct in saying one of our primary goals in life is to access actual grace in order that we might be changed from within?

I would think so, although I’m sure different people have different terms for the meaning of “grace”.

If that is true, could you tell me the different ways of accessing that Grace and if some are more powerful than anothers.

I haven’t a clue but its a very good question. I’ll definitely be keeping my eye on this thread. :slight_smile:


#3

I would say that our primary goal in life is to remain in a state of sanctifying grace–sanctifying grace being that supernatural sharing in the life of God by which we become children of God and able to enter heaven. Sanctifying grace is intended to be abiding–the Holy Trinity making a dwelling within our soul.

Actual graces, by way of contrast, are those supernatural helps which come to us on an ‘as needed’ basis–yes, to help us avoid sin and cooperate with virtue. So yes, it’s important to ask for and cooperate with actual grace, but that is mainly a means of leading us to and keeping us in, a state of sanctifying grace.

We can ask for and obtain actual grace primarily through prayer and sacramentals; while sanctifying grace comes through the sacraments.


#4

Thanks for the reply, Jim. That helps but I’m still confused. Aren’t I always in a state of sanctifying grace unless I commit a mortal sin? And if I am in a state of mortal sin, I can’t receive Eucharist anyway. So isn’t the point of Eucharist a more enabling grace to empower us to be holy? And isn’t that enabling grace called actual grace? Your reply seems to imply that Euacharist and Reconciliation are not sources of actual grace.

I’m not claiming this, I’m just asking to try to understand. Thank you for your help. This grace thing seems very important and I’m having trouble figuring it out.


#5

An example of actual grace is going to confession. You had to have actual grace to drive to the church and go to confession.
When we say Mary was full of grace, that means she was full of sanctifying grace, which is a share in the life of God. Whenever you commit a mortal sin you cease to have sanctifying grace in your soul and must go to confession (actual grace) to have it restored.


#6

[quote=gerryran]Thanks for the reply, Jim. That helps but I’m still confused. Aren’t I always in a state of sanctifying grace unless I commit a mortal sin? And if I am in a state of mortal sin, I can’t receive Eucharist anyway. So isn’t the point of Eucharist a more enabling grace to empower us to be holy? And isn’t that enabling grace called actual grace? Your reply seems to imply that Euacharist and Reconciliation are not sources of actual grace.

I’m not claiming this, I’m just asking to try to understand. Thank you for your help. This grace thing seems very important and I’m having trouble figuring it out.
[/quote]

Yes, I’m sure that both the Eucharist and Reconciliation are sources of actual grace; but their primary effect as sacraments is to instill or increase sanctifying grace. You are right, that once you receive it, only mortal sin can remove sanctifying grace.

I would use the phrase “enabling grace which empowers us to be holy” to refer to sanctifying grace rather than actual grace. It is a means of sanctification. To use one word definitions, sanctifying grace = life; actual grace = help. Actual grace is like the 800 number you call for help when you’re in trouble. Sanctifying grace is the electric current that keeps the appliance running.


#7

OK. I think that helps. Maybe it would be best if I just avoided the distinction altogether and just talk about grace in general. The point I wanted to make to them is that often they try through will power to be better and they do things like make a commitment to remain pure until marriage. Although that intention is good, they cannot do it by themselves and need to continually seek out God’s grace to do it. By doing things such as reconcilliation, eucharist, personal prayer, etc. they will access God’s grace and find themselves start to change and become more like Jesus. They then just have to cooperate with that grace rather than WILLING themselves to holiness.

Is this perspective correct? I think it runs quite contrary to what they believe. They think they have to “try to be good” rather than letting God change them using the tools He gives us through the church. I’d also like anyone’s thought on what tools I should most recommend to 14 year olds.


#8

That sounds good to me. If they (or anyone) are to have a hope to succeed they must, as you say, constantly ask for Gods graces. That means prayer. Prayer is primary, because if you never speak to someone, how can you be friends with them?

The Redemptorist missionaries used to have a saying: “He who prays will be saved; he who does not pray will be lost.”


#9

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