Introduction and Overview
The Sacraments are defined as outward signs of inward grace, instituted by Christ to help individuals in their spiritual life and to grow in holiness. Sacraments are mysteries; they are signs of the sacred presence of our God in our midst today. They are more than mere signs, however, for the sacraments impart grace. The sacraments help to make people holy and build-up the body of Christ. They are a way to relate to God throughout life’s transitions and help us to give praise and worship to God. They help us nourish, strengthen, and express our faith. Through the sacraments, Jesus remains with His people, strengthening, healing, feeding, and forgiving them as they face life’s challenges.
The Catholic Church celebrates seven Sacraments, which were instituted by Christ during his earthly ministry and which continue to define the liturgical life of the Church today. The Sacraments nourish, strengthen, and express faith.
Sacraments of Christian Initiation – Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist
“The sacraments of Christian initiation – Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist – lay the foundations of every Christian life.” – Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1212
Sacraments of Healing – Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick
“The Lord Jesus Christ, physicians of our souls and bodies, who forgave the sins of the paralytic and restored him to bodily health (Cf. Mk2:1-12), 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 sacraments of Anointing of the Sick.” – Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1421.
Sacraments at the Service of Communion/Vocation – Marriage and Holy Orders
“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.” – Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1534