The idea of grace has two aspects—one worldly and the other spiritual and religious. In everyday terms, grace refers to elegance, beauty, refinement and decency.
In spirituality and religion, the word grace has a different, often related meaning. Generally speaking, among world religions grace refers to some kind of favorable disposition and positive action of God (or gods/goddesses) toward a person, group or humanity as a whole.
The results of a deity’s action toward humanity can be visible (e.g. narrowly escaping death “by the Grace of God”) or invisible (e.g. feeling good in ways that worldly methods, alone, cannot achieve).
In Catholicism, grace is understood as a gift that is freely given by God, the creator, to a rational creature (mankind) for the purpose of salvation and everlasting bliss in heaven.
Catholicism speaks of many different kinds of grace, for instance: actual, baptismal, efficacious, elevating, external, habitual, illuminating, imputed, interior, irresistible, natural, prevenient, sacramental, sanctifying, substantial and sufficient.
In pop music, Steve Winwood and Jim Capaldi of Traffic put it this way:
Sometimes your life can be sidetracked, getting lost in things you don’t need
But we all lose direction in a world of greed
Some people’s lives end in ruin, some people’s lives never start
Someone knows what you’re doing deep in your heart
In the hour of need you stood ready, looked danger right in the face
Your heart is moved by the spirit when you’re living
Living in a state of grace
There’s a world never ending, sorrow and pain don’t exist
We can live there together, you can’t resist
Just when you think you can’t take it, dreams disappear into space
Trust in your heart, you can make it, when you’re living
Living in a state of grace¹
¹ Traffic, Far From Home, 1994. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Far_from_Home
- The Color of Grace (biblicalnotes.com)
- Everyone heard the words “prevenient grace” at Mass on Thursday, but few people know what it means. Here’s an explanation… (te-deum.blogspot.com)
- The Doctrine of Irresistible Grace (justificationbygrace.com)
- Total Depravity/Prevenient Grace – Articles of the Arminian Remonstrance: Part 3 (theologicalarsenal.wordpress.com)
- God’s Grace (gospelapprentice.com)
- Law and Grace (wdednh.wordpress.com)