UNDERSTANDING YOUR FAITH: Grace


By Vic Scaravilli


All Christian virtues and character flow from God and His grace. Every good thing we have and who we are all comes from God’s grace. Without it, we cannot do anything under our own power that would be pleasing to God.

Grace comes from the Latin word, “gratia” and is the free and undeserved help God gives us to respond to His call to become His children. It allows us to participate in the life of God by affecting our soul to act in ways pleasing to Him.

God’s pure gift of love is grace. He desires to share His love with others by giving each person the opportunity to receive His help in following Him. Although grace is totally a created free gift from God, it is never forced upon anyone. It must be freely accepted by each one of us. Since grace is a supernatural gift from God, there is nothing we can do to earn it because it is totally a gift of the nature of God. And because it is of God, grace allows us to do extraordinary things.

There are two different types of grace.

Actual grace is given to us each time we need God’s intervention to accomplish a particular act and is “used up” when the act is completed. The life of actual grace is a continuous movement toward a definite goal of knowing God better and living our lives to reflect it. Living our lives in obedience to God requires His unending help. This help is how the Father draws us closer to His Son and how we are enabled to live Christian lives. The way we can obtain this type of grace is by prayer.

It stimulates us to do things pleasing to God. This is what causes our souls to listen and learn what the Father wants us to do. It also causes interior decisions and exterior actions in leading our daily lives. Paul defines it in 1Cor. 15:9-12, “Only by God’s grace I am what I am, and the grace He has shown me has not been without fruit; I have worked harder than all of them, or rather it was not I, but the grace of God working in me.”

The second type, sanctifying grace, is the greatest type of grace because it joins us intimately with God. It is the divine life of Christ who permanently dwells within us. Sanctifying grace is infused by the Holy Spirit and exists in our soul so we may be in the state of holiness. This grace is what sanctifies us and allows an internal change to become sincere children of God.

This grace will remain within us indefinitely as long as we remain faithful to God. The only way to lose this type of grace is to commit a serious or mortal sin. 1John tells us that there is a type of sin (mortal) that is deadly. The consequence of losing this type of grace is serious because it jeopardizes our promise of heaven.

Sanctifying grace is obtained from all seven sacraments. A sacrament is an external sign that has the power to produce grace within a person’s soul because it is Christ who instituted them and is the one administrating the grace. Baptism restores our intimate relationship lost by Adam due to Original Sin and Reconciliation restores a person to sanctifying grace when it has been lost by mortal sin. All of the other sacraments intensify the existing grace in our soul.

It says in Ephesians 2:5-8, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so no one may boast.” Actual grace that works on the soul and sanctifying grace that works in the soul are free gifts from God. All we have to do to receive them is to ask for them in prayer or to receive the sacraments.

The Writings of Vic Scaravilli

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