What is the difference between actual grace and sanctifying grace?
Jerónimo Jacinto de Espinosa, “Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament,” c. 1650
Catechism of the Catholic Church
1996 – Our justification comes from the grace of God. Grace is favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life.46
46 – Cf. Jn 1:12-18; 17:3; Rom 8:14-17; 2 Pet 1:3-4.
2 Peter 1:3-4
3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
Catechism of St Pius X
11 Q. How is grace distinguished?
A. Grace is divided into sanctifying grace, which is also called habitual grace, and actual grace.
12 Q. What is sanctifying grace?
A. Sanctifying grace is a supernatural gift inherent in our soul, and rendering us just, adopted children of God and heirs to Paradise.
16 Q. What is actual grace?
A. Actual grace is a supernatural gift which enlightens the mind, moves and strengthens the will in order to enable us to do good and avoid evil.
17 Q. Can we resist the grace of God?
A. Yes, we can resist the grace of God because it does not destroy our free will.
18 Q. By the aid of our own powers alone can we do anything available to life eternal?
A. Without the help of the grace of God, and by our own powers alone, we cannot do anything helpful to life everlasting.
19 Q. How is grace given us by God?
A. Grace is given us by God chiefly through the sacraments.
20 Q. Do the sacraments confer any other grace besides sanctifying grace?
A. Besides sanctifying grace the sacraments also confer sacramental grace.
21 Q. What is sacramental grace?
A. Sacramental grace consists in the right acquired in the reception of a sacrament, to have at the proper time the actual graces necessary to fulfil the obligations arising from the sacrament received. Thus when we were baptised we received the right to have the grace to live a Christian life.