Grace itself has several meanings. First, in Christian theology, it is a gift of God, a divine favor. For instance, in the prayer “Hail Mary, full of grace,” Mary is a channel of God’s grace, which flows through her and through her womb:
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus . . .
Second, grace also refers to actions that are pleasing, as in graceful movements or gracious manners. Likewise, it means attractiveness or charm, as in elegant proportions. In Greek mythology, the sister goddesses the Graces were bestowers of beauty and were of exquisite beauty themselves.
Third, grace also means thanks or gratitude, as in saying grace before meals. There are similar words for thanks in other languages: in French, grace à, “thanks to.” The word for “thank you” in Spanish is gracias, and in Italian, grazie.
What unifies these meanings is a sense of free flow in both directions, and from this flow comes graceful movement or beauty. The giver and the giver of thanks are connected; they a …