Grace — actual and sanctifying — is a spontaneous gift of God’s love and mercy to save mankind. Sanctifying grace transforms a sinner into a God’s child, is a permanent part of the soul while we do not commit a mortal sin, and we can recover the divine affiliation in the sacrament of Penance. Actual grace entails transient divine impulses due to salutary acts, in consideration of Christ’s merits, for union with God and spiritual growth.
Sanctifying grace is conferred by the valid reception of the seven sacraments:
• Sanctifying grace is communicated in Baptism, Penance, and Anointing of the Sick;
• Sanctifying grace is always increased when a sacrament is received in the state of grace;
• Actual grace is given by all the sacraments;
• The sacramental character is indelibly imprinted on the soul in Baptism, Confirmation, and the Priesthood;
• A distinctive sacramental grace is imparted by each sacrament, corresponding to its purpose in the life of the soul.
The sacraments are sacred signs and instruments of grace. Catholics can also increase sanctifying grace through prayer and acts of mercy.