What Is Grace?

The sacraments are said to bring graces. Specifically, the sacrament of holy matrimony is said to bring grace to the married couple, who conferred the sacrament upon themselves. A priest does not marry two people. They marry each other; the priest is only the Church’s official witness.

Merriam-Webster defines the noun grace as follows:

a: unmerited divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration or sanctification
b: a virtue coming from God
c: a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine assistance

That all seems accurate, but it is still fuzzy to me. All the vocations recognized by the Church—marriage, consecrated life, priesthood, and single life—have graces attached to them. Once you have responded to the call and entered your vocation, God grants you the graces needed to fulfill it and become sanctified so that you may enter heaven upon earthly death.

Maybe the better question is, how does one recognize grace? We have unique, unrepeatable souls, so it makes sense that each person would recognize grace in his or her own way.

To me, grace is a peaceful feeling, an infusion of patience that I didn’t have before, that leaves me wondering how I still feel so calm, when I would ordinarily be anxious. I also see grace as the wisdom to keep my mouth shut when I am tempted to verbally lash out. Grace is still hard to recognize, and many times, I fail to use or grasp it, but I have learned to be more open to it and to pray for it.

tl;dr version of this post: I don’t think I ever recognized grace as a legitimate blessing that could be helpful until recently.

Thank you, God, for this grace.