Monday, February 7, 2011

Answers to Doctrinal Quiz Show: Amazing Grace! Plus, Bubble Awards!

*This just in: Hannah Rose was born this morning to Kaitlin at More Like Mary, More Like Me! Praise God and congratulations!!

Welcome back, Bubble contestants! You've all been waiting patiently, probably sitting by the computer all weekend, so let's get to our answers.

The question was:

Name and describe the different types of grace.

And the answer....

The two kinds of grace are sanctifying grace and actual grace.

Sanctifying grace is the very life of God (let that sink in!). It is interior grace, which dwells in the soul and transforms it, making it holy. The ordinary way we receive sanctifying grace is through the sacraments.

Actual grace is supernatural help from God (like nudges). It is external grace, working on us from the outside only; it does nothing to change the state of our soul. Everyone receives actual grace, and it comes to us when we need it. We have the free will to cooperate with it or ignore it.

Let's go into a little detail about each.*

Sanctifying Grace

I'll start with an analogy that was very helpful to me: We all know that our human nature is not equipped to live in the ocean. We will die there unless we have something outside of (or above) our nature to sustain us. Scuba gear is the apparatus that allows us to transcend our human nature and live underwater. Similarly, our human nature is not equipped to live in Heaven. Sanctifying grace is the "apparatus" that allows us to transcend our human nature and live in Heaven. We need sanctifying grace, for in our merely human state, we are simply not equipped to live in the presence of God.

When God created our first parents, Adam and Eve, He immediately infused them with the extraordinary gift of sanctifying grace (i.e., a sharing of His divine life). This undeserved gift elevated them above their own human nature and allowed them to live in the direct presence of God. Unfortunately, Adam and Eve threw away this supernatural gift when they "fell from [sanctifying] grace" by choosing to sin. Without sanctifying grace, they were now separated from God, and Heaven was closed to them.

Since the Fall, humans are no longer given the gift of sanctifying grace at their creation. However, thanks to Jesus Christ and His atoning death, we are able to receive the gift of sanctifying grace through the sacraments of His Church. At our baptism, our souls are infused with sanctifying grace (God's very life!), and we become fit for Heaven. Assuming we continue to live in God's friendship and not commit mortal sin, this grace can continue to grow in our souls throughout our lives (through our prayers, acts of mercy and love, penance, etc.), making us increasingly holy. We hope to die in a state of grace.

Actual Grace

Actual grace is like little nudges from God. These nudges can take many different forms and come to us from many different places (and people). Actual grace could come in the form of your mother reminding you not to miss Mass on Sunday, or a friend telling you that you should get to confession. It could be a catastrophic event which leaves you on your knees before God, when before you wouldn't have gone near Him. It could be the promptings of your own conscience when confronted with your sins. It might be a class you took or a book you read which compelled you in the direction of justice or righteousness or humility. It could be the unexpected presence of a holy person or the feeling of awe you get when you look at a coastal sunset. It could be just about anything which moves you closer to the Lord.

Actual grace can be acted on or it can be ignored; but just like a train, there will always be another "nudge" coming around soon. God never abandons anyone, and every human being on the planet receives as much actual grace as is necessary to prompt one to seek out salvation. Unlike sanctifying grace, actual grace does not touch the interior of a person, but only works from the outside. Actual grace does not change the state of a person's soul, but is merely the agent that pushes a soul to seek out and receive sanctifying grace.

Now to the bonus question:

What is "the source and summit" of the Christian Faith?

I was thrilled that so many of you knew the answer! The Eucharist is "the source and summit" of the Christian Faith, because the Eucharist is truly Jesus Christ -- Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. He is the source and summit of everything, and we have Him with us! We are truly blessed!

Now let's seamlessly transition into the presentation of the Bubble Awards!!

The Just Because I Feel Sorry For Her Award goes to... Mary! Her multiple comments, heartfelt pleas, brutal honesty, clever wit ("the little girl I used to babysit"), liberal use of smiley faces, and general DQS enthusiasm struck a soft spot in my heart.

The Oh No, Wait a Second, Do They Know More Than I Do About This? Award goes to... Stacy Trasancos and her husband for throwing out big themes of grace that left me thinking I needed to do more research because they sounded really theological and scholarly, while I was going off something I read from a little tract. (Wait, I see now that you commented a second time, taking yourself out of the competition. I hereby revoke this award. Maybe I'll give it to Calah and the Ogre instead.)

The "Are You Proud of Yourselves?" Romper Room Award for Juvenile Behavior on a Doctrinal Quiz Show goes to... Beth and Cathy! For reasons which are well known to them. (That last line is from the book Mommie Dearest. Can anyone tell me, without cheating, the context of that line?)

The Making Excuses, aka Quit Yer Whining, Award goes to... JoAnna and Brenda! (And remember, blame-shifting is not a Christian virtue.)

The Just in the Nick of Time Award goes to... Sew! Because I always promised to give her an award anytime she participated. See, Sew, I am a woman of my word!

And, the GRAND PRIZE BUBBLE AWARD for getting the correct answer goes to:


My dear Nubby, you are not only the winner of the incredible DVD documentary, Watch With Me, but you also get to put the coveted Bubble Award Icon on your mantle at home (or start a blog and put it there)! Hooray!!!

Please send your mailing address to, and I will get your DVD sent out to you right away!

(Anyone wanting to purchase a copy can go to this link. Thank you, All You Who Hope!)

Now, if for any reason Nubby is unable to fulfill her duties as the Bubble Award Grand Prize Winner, the First Runner Up will assume her title, prizes, and glory. The First Runner Up is...


(Dear GAS, this is the first time I've decided to designate a runner-up! Congratulations! You got the right answer, but Nubby beat you by about 20 hours.)

Okay, folks, that's all for this episode of Doctrinal Quiz Show!! Tune in next time when I ask you to list all 265 popes by memory! Start studying, y'all!

{applause, applause, applause, and fade....}

*When I taught myself the Catholic Faith in the mid-90s (before I had internet), I bought this great set of little tracts from Catholic Answers. They were chock-full of practical, easy-to-understand information, and much of what you are reading here is from those tracts. You can find all of that today on their website.


  1. WOW! I'm so excited to just be runner-up! Yay! :)

  2. Leila, Kaitlin from More Like Mary just had her baby this morning. Hannah Rose. Give her some love!

  3. Congratulations Nubby and God Alone Suffices!

    Abigail I was wondering about Kaitlin, I had read her post about being overdue. Beautiful name. Our 7 year old is named Abigail Rose.

    Leila, our 6 year old is named Grace because at that time I was in RCIA and all I knew was that I needed a daily reminder to accept the Grace I'm given and stop freaking out about every little thing (a continuing battle). :-)

  4. Leila

    I should be more embarrassed to admit this, but I didn't know about either graces. (Like you-I'm not at all educated about my Faith, although obviously you are now! And I'm learning from you!)

    Seriously, I was just asking my mom the difference between these two graces, what they are and what they mean. I asked her this last week and then suddenly you have this contest.

    I'm letting your post sink in....

    So glad I found your blog-I'm glad to be challenged though most of your challenges for me are too hard (for now.) But soon you'll see me chiming in with my own answers and opinions! Thanks for the link to the Catholic Answers website!

  5. That Sounds about right! Cathy, don't you think Leila should make us a graphic for This award!

  6. Hrmph. Not qute the Bubble award I'd hoped for. Hint taken!

  7. Don't worry Becky...I didn't know the answers either! Although, it's nice now knowing there is a name for those "nudges" I get all the time!

    Quick story: I believe my husband was given actual grace by watching the movie The Rite last week. (He went with my mom, brother, and brother's fiance - my dad and I refuse to watch those kinds of movies.) Anyway, he came home with a million questions about bettering his faith and life and we were on the phone with my dad most of the night learning more and more about our religion and how wonderful it is!

    So thank GOD for actual grace! What an amazing gift!

  8. Wow - cool, thanks! I'll send you an email w/ address.
    Can't wait to view the DVD.

  9. Love how much I learn during these posts! Thanks Leila.

  10. "To Christopher and Christina I leave nothing, for reasons which are well known to them."

    Go on wit your abusive self, Joan Crawford.

  11. Cathy, no way!!!! I am dying! You did it! You are like Charlie Bucket at the end of the tour, and I Willie Wonka! You did it my girl, you did it!!

    (But I think you cheated and googled that...)

  12. L,
    LOL You can check my Google history!

    I thought everyone knew that! Seriously, it's one of my favorite movies, she's one of my favorite actresses, AND I just watched something about her the other day which was kind of supposed to be "her" side of the story - they speculated that the "reasons well-known..." was that Joan KNEW Christina was going to publish the book.
    Christina denied that, but we'll never know.
    But the two younger kids (the twins) strongly deny that there was EVER any abuse in that house.
    I don't know what I believe but I loves me some Joan! (And Faye Dunaway was amaaaazing in Mommie Dearest.)

  13. Oh, the show i saw was called "the Will" I think. It's a series about famous people's wills and it's pretty great!

  14. Okay so I definitely knew Actual Grace as well! I just didn't realize that I knew it! Geez. I need to reread "You Can Become a Saint" by Mary Ann Budnik. It is totally in there, but so is tons of information that seriously was life changing for me! :) Anyway, thanks for refreshing my memory! Our Catholic faith is sooo amazing!! :)

  15. Thank you for my award! :) I was wondering if you forget about always giving me an award if I participated. :) hahahahaha U are a woman of your word!

  16. WOO HOOOOOOO I got the first award!!! We'll forget about the fact that it's an award given because you feel sorry for me and my sad stupidity ;) hahaha

  17. The Quit Yer Whining Award.
    hahaha awesome!


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