The Seven Sacraments
Our celebrations of the sacraments are signs of Jesus’ presence in our lives and a means for receiving his grace. The Sacraments nourish and strengthen us, as they express and build up our faith. Guided by the Holy Spirit, the Catholic Church recognizes the existence of Seven Sacraments instituted by the Lord. They are the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, the Eucharist), the Sacraments of Healing (Reconciliation and the Anointing of the Sick), and the Sacraments at the Service of Communion (Marriage and Holy Orders).
Sacraments of Initiation
- The sacraments of Christian initiation – Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist – lay the foundations of every Christian life. “The sharing in the divine nature given to men through the grace of Christ bears a certain likeness to the origin, development, and nourishing of natural life. The faithful are born anew by Baptism, strengthened by the sacrament of Confirmation, and receive in the Eucharist the food of eternal life. By means of these sacraments of Christian initiation, they thus receive in increasing measure the treasures of the divine life and advance toward the perfection of charity.” (CCC – 1212).
In Baptism we receive new life in Christ.
In Baptism, we are recreated as the children of God and brought into the Life of God through Jesus Christ. In Baptism, we receive the Holy Spirit who makes a dwelling within us, bearing the gifts of Faith, Hope and Love.
The Eucharist nourishes our life of faith.
The reception of the Eucharist initiates or brings us into a closer relationship with God. Unlike Baptism or Confirmation, the Eucharist is the on-going nourishment which takes us into the Life of God and binds us together with our brothers and sisters in Love. Our nourishment in the Sacred Meal of the Eucharist is a Living Person, the Person of Jesus Christ.
Confirmation seals our life of faith in Jesus.
Confirmation is a Sacrament of mature Christian commitment and a deepening of Baptismal gifts. We receive the message of faith in a deeper manner; great emphasis is given to the person of Jesus Christ, who asked the Father to give the Holy Spirit to the Church for building up the community in loving service. The preparation process for Confirmation provides a time to explore one’s Catholic identity and what it means to be an adult follower of Christ.
Sacraments of Healing
- Through the sacraments of Christian initiation, man receives the new life of Christ. Now we carry this life “in earthen vessels,” and it remains “hidden with Christ in God.” We are still in our “earthly tent,” subject to suffering, illness, and death. This new life as a child of God can be weakened and even lost by sin (CCC 1420).
- The Lord Jesus Christ, physician of our souls and bodies, who forgave the sins of the paralytic and restored him to bodily health, has willed that his Church continue, in the power of the Holy Spirit, his work of healing and salvation, even among her own members. This is the purpose of the two sacraments of healing: the sacrament of Penance and the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick (CCC 1420).
Through Reconciliation, we receive God’s forgiveness.
Not only does the Sacrament of Reconciliation free us from our sins, but it also challenges us to have the same kind of compassion and forgiveness for those who sin against us. We are liberated to be forgivers. We obtain new insight into the words of the Prayer of St. Francis: “It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.”
Anointing of the Sick
God’s will for healing physical or spiritual
The Rite of Anointing tells us there is no need to wait until a person is at the point of death to receive the Sacrament. A careful judgment about the serious nature of the illness is sufficient.
Sacraments at the Service of Communion
- Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist are sacraments of Christian initiation. They ground the common vocation of all Christ’s disciples, a vocation to holiness and to the mission of evangelizing the world. They confer the graces needed for the life according to the Spirit during this life as pilgrims on the march towards the homeland (CCC – 1533).
- Two other sacraments, Holy Orders and Matrimony, are directed towards the salvation of others; if they contribute as well to personal salvation, it is through service to others that they do so. They confer a particular mission in the Church and serve to build up the People of God (CCC – 1534).
- Through these sacraments those already consecrated by Baptism and Confirmation for the common priesthood of all the faithful can receive particular consecrations. Those who receive the sacrament of Holy Orders are consecrated in Christ’s name “to feed the Church by the word and grace of God.” On their part, “Christian spouses are fortified and, as it were, consecrated for the duties and dignity of their state by a special sacrament.” (CCC – 1535).
The Sacrament of Marriage is a covenant, which is refers to a permanent union between the husband and wife.
Scripture often refers to marriage, its origin and purpose, the meaning God gave to it and its renewal in the covenant made by Jesus with his Church. By their marriage, the couple witnesses Christ’s spousal love for the Church. One of the Nuptial Blessings in the liturgical celebration of marriage refers to this in saying, “Father, you have made the union of man and wife so holy a mystery that it symbolizes the marriage of Christ and his Church.” (USCCB).
“Here I am, send me.” (Is 6:8)
Holy Orders is the sacrament through which the mission entrusted by Christ to his apostles continues to be exercised in the Church until the end of time; thus, it is the sacrament of apostolic ministry. It includes three degrees: episcopate, presbyterate, and diaconate.