I was thinking about donating to the Best Podcast in the Universe but they always give out "Karma" for donors, and being a Catholic, I don't believe in Karma, but I do believe in Actual Grace and I do believe that Actual Grace is something God gives you to continue doing good things. Can it be in reward for doing good things and to perpetuate the doing of good? Are our good deeds tantamount to a prayer?

Note: The Catechism of the Catholic Church says this about "actual grace":

Actual graces ... refer to God’s interventions, whether at the beginning of conversion or in the course of the work of sanctification.

(paragraph 2000)

Excellent answers are wholly Catholic, apostolic, etc... And should contain the word Distinguo or at the very least the phrase "It would seem that..." (meaning please don't disregard the premise offhandedly until you've defeated the premise with your artful and oh-so-scholastic rhetoric). They would also speak to a wholly superficial knowledge of Hinduism and Karma, which is all that I have; which I gleaned from playing Fallout and watching Dharma and Greg as an adolescent.

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    If you don't know what actual grace is, please leave a comment. There are very clear questions in here about the nature if actual grace.
    – Peter Turner
    Dec 23, 2015 at 5:45
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    Maybe you would want to pre-empt any such comments by linking to one question you think answers that especially well?
    – Flimzy
    Dec 23, 2015 at 8:44
  • I see no relation to Grace and Karma, and your Catholic understanding of Grace is sketchy tho not intirely wrong. I have trouble with Grace being something God gives to continue good works, that is of course the Hope but not relevant to it being given. What is your basis for that as my Catholic understanding is that Grace is provided regardless of what we do with it. Then we come to initial Grace, initial Justification, Sanctification and then, Growing in Grace, becoming Sanctified through Grace, and final Sanctification havinug perservered to the end.
    – Marc
    Dec 23, 2015 at 13:49
  • @marc maybe I'm wrong for judging Gods intentions for giving us grace, I just don't think it's to perpetuate bad works.
    – Peter Turner
    Dec 24, 2015 at 0:29
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    newadvent.org/cathen/06689x.htm Actual grace differs from sanctifying grace. This question is not about sanctifying grace, so I tagged it with actual grace. I'm pretty sure there are questions here where I answered that question you just asked. I can search for 'em if you want
    – Peter Turner
    Dec 24, 2015 at 1:14

1 Answer 1


Objection 1: It would seem that there is no distinction between actual grace and karma. For both are external causes of a person's future behavior. Therefore there is no distinction between them.

Objection 2: Furthermore, karma and actual graces both influence the state of an individual after death. For karma, we are told, can influence how an individual is reborn; and grace certainly influences their judgment to heaven or hell. Therefore, etc.

Objection 3: Furthermore, like actual grace, karma affects an individual based on their previous behavior. Therefore, etc.

On the other hand, karma appears to be automatic and objective, a particular understanding of how one's behavior influences one's future state. Not only do good actions produce good results, but bad actions produce bad. But although good actions will result in further actual graces, there is no statement that bad actions will result not only in a deprivation of grace by God in this life, but even of a specific obstacle to grace. Therefore there is a difference between actual grace and karma.

I answer that there is a distinction to be made between actual grace and karma, in a number of ways. In the first place, grace is a gift granted to one by 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.

(Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1996; bold emphasis added)

But karma does not require to be granted by any being; it appears to be part of the structure of the universe:

a man of good acts will become good, a man of bad acts, bad;
he becomes pure by pure deeds, bad by bad deeds

(Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 4.4.5)

Furthermore, grace is granted to humans so that they may grow to become more like God (that they may advance in the process of theosis; see the quote above from the Catechism). Karma, on the other hand, does not appear to have any particular purpose.

For at least these two reasons, it appears that one must draw a distinction between actual grace and karma.

Reply to Objection 1: As discussed above, karma is not granted to one person by God, but grace is.

Reply to Objection 2: Although karma controls the state in which one will be reborn after death, grace does not in itself control whether one will be saved after death. Rather, the will of God, judging us as to our faith and works, accomplishes this.

Reply to Objection 3: As discussed above, karma can appear in both negative and positive forms, while grace is a purely positive gift of God.

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    Clever! The pupil has become the teacher!
    – user13992
    Dec 24, 2015 at 3:39
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    Yeah, this is way more coherent than any quodlibet I could come up with! Truly nice work!
    – Peter Turner
    Dec 27, 2015 at 4:27

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