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Chapter 24. Life in Christ—Part Two • 329

Grace is the free and undeserved assistance God offers us so that

we might respond to his call to share in his divine life and attain eternal

life. God’s grace, as divinely offered gift, does not take away or restrict

our freedom; rather, it perfects our freedom by helping us overcome the

restricting power of sin, the true obstacle to our freedom. We call the

grace of the Holy Spirit that we receive through faith in Jesus Christ

the New Law. Significant expressions of this Law are found in Christ’s

Sermon on the Mount and his Last Supper discourse, where he empha-

sizes union with him in love as the substance and motivation for his law

of grace.

Grace is the help God gives us to respond to our vocation of

becoming his adopted sons. It introduces us into the intimacy

of the Trinitarian life. The divine initiative in the work of grace

precedes, prepares, and elicits the free response of man. Grace

responds to the deepest yearnings of human freedom, calls free-

dom to cooperate with it, and perfects freedom. Sanctifying

grace is the gratuitous gift of his life that God makes to us; it is

infused by the Holy Spirit into the soul to heal it of sin and to

sanctify it. (CCC, nos. 2021-2023)

In addition to speaking about sanctifying grace, we also speak of

actual graces. These refer to the particular interventions God offers

us to aid us in the course of the work of sanctification. We recognize

that many times and in many ways God’s special love is such that he

offers us help to live in a way that leads to sharing his life. Finally, there

are sacramental graces, which are proper to the celebration of the

Seven Sacraments, and special graces or charisms, which, while given to

individuals, are meant for the common good of the Church (cf. CCC,

no. 2003).

In this recognition of the reality and important role of grace in

the Christian moral life, we face a struggle prompted by our culture’s

understanding that everything is within our human power. “My power

is sufficient.” Compare this with our understanding that we are indeed

blessed and gifted, but much of what we fight to achieve—while writ-

ten in our hearts—still needs God’s grace because of the presence of sin

and our inherent human weakness. The New Law is truly Good News,