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God’s benevolence toward the human race.
First and foremost, grace is God’s supernatural gift of all that we need to reach eternal salvation, including sanctifying grace, the infused virtues, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and actual grace, all of which we need to obtain the beatific vision. Second, grace includes miraculous gifts of healing or prophecy and the preternatural gifts such as freedom from concupiscence. Third and least, grace includes the gifts of nature such as our creation, our physical vitality, or our attractive appearance.`
The essence of grace is that it is a freely offered gift. We do not earn or deserve or merit grace. We cannot claim it as our right.
The most important kinds of grace are sanctifying grace and actual grace. However, there are also special graces.
Gratuitous grace is God’s gift to particular persons for the salvation of others. It is independent of the personal moral life or behavior of the person to whom it is given. The priest’s powers of consecration and absolution as well as any person’s gifts prophecy or healing are gratuitous grace.
Sacramental grace is the grace we receive from valid and fruitful reception of the sacraments. We receive sanctifying grace from baptism, penance, and when needed from anointing of the sick and dying. The sanctifying grace in our souls is always increased when we receive any sacrament in the state of grace. We receive actual grace from all the sacraments, both at the time of reception and at other times when we need divine help. Through sacramental grace the sacramental character is indelibly imprinted on the human soul in baptism, confirmation, and holy orders. Each sacrament also imparts a distinctive sacramental grace based on its particular purpose in the supernatural life of the soul.
Sanating grace heals our mind and will as they have been diminished by the ravages of sin, both original and personal. It gives us strength to seek and accept God’s will and joy when we do God’s will.
Catechism of the Catholic Church § 1996-2005
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