What exactly is Grace?

Hello Everybody,

Currently i am trying to understand the “33 days to morning glory” book and retreat. While reading the St. Maximilian Kolbe section, i noticed that Fr. Gaitley states that Mary can distribute God’s graces. This, of course, made me wonder if grace is really a tangible ‘thing’ that a created being can distribute.

Personally, i would have no problem with Mary being a distributor of God’s grace, just as the angels are the messengers of his word. But, would need some clarification of what exactly grace is before i can jump to conclusions. :shrug:

Grace is an action of the Holy Spirit upon your soul.

Grace sanctifies you - makes you holy.

Holiness is a decrease in sin and an increase in virtue.

Mary is the spouse of the Holy Spirit and directs the Holy Spirit to the souls of the faithful, to act upon their souls, to sanctify them.


Grace is God’s “favor” which can manifest itself in many ways within the Christian life. God’s favor and blessings can be subtle to miraculously powerful.

God bless.

Grace is a supernatural gift of God bestowed on us through the merits of Jesus Christ for our salvation. :slight_smile:

As for the rest, hear St. Pius X:

We are then, it will be seen, very far from attributing to the Mother of God a productive power of grace - a power which belongs to God alone. Yet, since Mary carries it over all in holiness and union with Jesus Christ, and has been associated by Jesus Christ in the work of redemption, she merits for us de congruo, in the language of theologians, what Jesus Christ merits for us de condigno, and she is the supreme Minister of the distribution of graces. Jesus “sitteth on the right hand of the majesty on high” (Hebrews i. b.). Mary sitteth at the right hand of her Son - a refuge so secure and a help so trusty against all dangers that we have nothing to fear or to despair of under her guidance, her patronage, her protection. (Pius IX. in Bull Ineffabilis).

Pius XI:

Trusting in her intercession with Christ, who whereas He is the “one mediator of God and men” (1 Timothy ii, 5), chose to make His Mother the advocate of sinners, and the minister and mediatress of grace, as an earnest of heavenly gifts and as a token of Our paternal affection we most lovingly impart the Apostolic Blessing to you, Venerable Brethren, and to all the flock committed to your care.


It is impossible to measure the power and scope of her offices since the day she was taken up to that height of heavenly glory in the company of her Son, to which the dignity and luster of her merits entitle her. From her heavenly abode she began, by God’s decree, to watch over the Church, to assist and befriend us as our Mother; so that she who was so intimately associated with the mystery of human salvation is just as closely associated with the distribution of the graces which for all time will flow from the Redemption.

Grace is God’s free gift of love and friendship (I believe that is one of the definitions I remember from a religion textbook in school), that He gives to us freely out of His Supreme Love for us. Sanctifying Grace, specifically, is God’s gift to us that makes us holy and sons and daughters of the Father, brothers and sisters of Christ Jesus, and temples of the Holy Spirit.

May God bless you all abundantly and forever! :slight_smile:

There’s some excellent teaching here:

*]Grace: What It Is and What It Does
*]Baptismal Grace
*]Mary: “Full of Grace”

Look up sanctifying grace or grace on NewAdvent.org. The encyclopedia goes into some depth and could be helpful, if I recall. I also was curious about this once, and after looking over these articles, I understood (sanctifying) grace to be not a thing, but a quality in the soul. It is sometimes unhelpful when we speak about grace quickly. Phrases like “increase grace in the soul” (progressive justification/sanctification) and God “giving out his grace” make grace sound like bits of magic glitter. But actually, for example, when we say grace grows or increases in the soul, this means the quality or characteristic of the soul becomes stronger – more in love with Christ.

From “Sanctifying Grace” on NewAdvent:

Moreover, sanctifying grace as an active reality, and not a merely external relation, must be philosophically either substance or accident. Now, it is certainty not a substance which exists by itself, or apart from the soul, therefore it is a physical accident inhering in the soul, so that the soul becomes the subject in which grace inheres; but such an accident is in metaphysics called quality (qualitas, poiotes) therefore sanctifying grace may be philosophically termed a “permanent, supernatural quality of the soul”, or, as the Roman Catechism (P. II, cap. ii, de bap., n. 50) says “divina qualitas in anima inhaerens”.
2. Sanctifying grace cannot be termed a habit (habitus) with the same precision as it is called a quality. Metaphysicians enumerate four kinds of quality:

habit and disposition;
power and want of power;
passion and passible quality, for example, to blush, pale with wrath;
form and figure (cf. Aristotle, Categ. VI).
Manifestly sanctifying grace must be placed in the first of these four classes, namely habit or disposition; but as dispositions are fleeting things, and habit has a permanency theologians agree that sanctifying grace is undoubtedly a habit, hence the name: Habitual Grace (gratia habitualis). Habitus is subdivided into habitus entitativus and habitus operativus. A habitus entitativus is a quality or condition added to a substance by which condition or quality the substance is found permanently good or bad, for instance: sickness or health, beauty, deformity, etc. Habitus operativus is a disposition to produce certain operations or acts, for instance, moderation or extravagance; this habitus is called either virtue or vice just as the soul is inclined thereby to a moral good or to a moral evil. Now, since sanctifying grace does not of itself impart any such readiness, celerity, or facility in action, we must consider it primarily as a habitus entitativus, not as a habitus operativus. Therefore, since the popular concept of habitus, which usually designates a readiness, does not accurately express the idea of sanctifying grace, another term is employed, i.e. a quality after the manner of a habit (qualitas per modum habitus), and this term is applied with Bellarmine (De grat. et lib. arbit., I, iii). Grace, however, preserves an inner relation to a supernatural activity, because it does not impart to the soul the act but rather the disposition to perform supernatural and meritorious acts therefore grace is remotely and mediately a disposition to act (habitus remote operativus). On account of this and other metaphysical subtleties the Council of Trent has refrained from applying the term habitus to sanctifying grace.

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