According to the teachings of the Catholic Church (infallible or not), where does Grace reside? I would imagine the answer is "in the soul". I've searched for concrete answers in the Catholic Encyclopedia (e.g. here and here) without success. I found the unreferenced quote below in the article about sin:

The first effect of mortal sin in man is to avert him from his true last end, and deprive his soul of sanctifying grace.

So it seems it is the soul. But I would like a more authoritative reference, ideally from the Church itself (Magisterium). Any ideas?


Grace is a quality (a type of accident) that inheres in the soul, analogous to how the quality of redness inheres in a red apple.

St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica I-II q. 110 a. 1 ("Whether grace implies anything in the soul?") co.:

when a man is said to have the grace of God, there is signified something bestowed on man by God.

I-II q. 110 a. 2 ("Whether grace is a quality of the soul?") ad 1:

Grace, as a quality, is said to act upon the soul, not after the manner of an efficient cause, but after the manner of a formal cause, as whiteness makes a thing white, and justice, just.

ad 2:

because grace is above human nature, it cannot be a substance or a substantial form, but is an accidental form of the soul.

Being is divided into substance (that which exists in itself) and accident (that which exists in another). Accidents are divided into quantity, quality, relation, etc. See this diagram.

That grace is a quality infused and inherent in the soul is also evident from the Council of Trent, session 6:

CANON XI.—If any one saith, that men are justified, either by the sole imputation of the justice of Christ, or by the sole remission of sins, to the exclusion of the grace and the charity which is poured forth in their hearts by the Holy Ghost [Rom. 5:5], and is inherent in them; or even that the grace, whereby we are justified, is only the favor of God: let him be anathema.

[Cdl. Manning's transl. of:] Canon XI.—Si quis dixerit, homines justificari, vel sola imputatione justitiæ Christi, vel sola peccatorum remissione, exclusa gratia et caritate, quæ in cordibus eorum per Spiritum Sanctum diffundatur atque illis inhæreat; aut etiam gratiam, qua justificamur, esse tantum favorem Dei: anathema sit.

Trent argues against Luther, who did not believe a transformation of the soul by grace is necessary for justification.

  • Thanks. Although Aquinas is a fine source, I am looking for an authoritative source.
    – luchonacho
    Sep 3 '19 at 8:05
  • 1
    "Although Aquinas is a fine source, I am looking for an authoritative source." *Gasp* By authority do you mean set upon the altar along with the Scriptures in an Ecumenical Council? Haha. Sep 3 '19 at 12:18
  • @SolaGratia I mean official teaching, whether infallible or not. Aquinas, Augustine, Duns Scotus, you name it. There is one for everyone. I want something from the Magisterium.
    – luchonacho
    Sep 3 '19 at 16:15
  • @SolaGratia I've added a quote from the Council of Trent.
    – Geremia
    Sep 3 '19 at 21:40
  • @luchonacho Does the Council of Trent quote help?
    – Geremia
    Sep 5 '19 at 16:19

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