Sacraments are divided into three groups: sacraments of initiation, sacraments of healing, and sacraments of commitment and service. The life of the Church revolves around the sacraments. In them we encounter the Lord Jesus and are enabled to live the life of faith more deeply.
What are the Sacraments of Initiation?
The sacraments of initiation include Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist. Baptism is the basis for the whole of Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit and first step to the other sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed and born anew as children of God and are incorporated into the Church to share in her mission. Confirmation gives us the Holy Spirit to root us more deeply in all that is divine and incorporate us more firmly into Christ. It strengthens our bond with the church and her mission to bear witness to the Christian faith in words and deeds. The Eucharist is the heart and culmination of the Church's life. By his sacrifice, Christ pours out the graces of salvation on his Body, which is the Church, his sacrifice of praise to the Father. Receiving this sacrament strengthens our union with the Lord.
What are the Sacraments of Healing?
As sacraments of healing, Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick recall the frailty of the human condition. The sacrament of Reconciliation provides us with an opportunity to acknowledge the reality of sin, to ask forgiveness, and to begin anew as disciples of Christ. Anointing of the Sick is a source of strength and consolation for those who are ill and those who are caring for them. The experience of celebrating this sacrament in community offers a better appreciation of the social consequences of sin and the need for reconciliation as a whole people. Reconciliation makes visible the mercy of our loving God.
What are the Sacraments of Commitment and Service?
Matrimony and Holy Orders celebrate the calling to family life and to ordained ministry in the Church. These vocations are sanctified in the sacramental rites in which we are called to build the Body of Christ through service.
The Roman Cathechism offers this definition: "Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration by water
in the word" (per aquam in verbo). Baptism was instituted to confer upon
us the beginnings of the spiritual Life, to transfer us from the state
of enemies of God to the state of adoption as sons and daughters of God.
This definition combines the physical and metaphysical definitions of baptism.
"The sacrament of regeneration" is the metaphysical essence of the sacrament,
while the physical essence is expressed by the second part of the definition
of the sacrament (i.e. the washing with water (matter), accompanied by
the invocation of the Holy Trinity (metaphysical form). Baptism is, therefore,
the sacrament by which we are born again of water and the Holy Ghost, that
is, by which we receive in a new and spiritual life, the dignity of adoption
as sons and daughters of God and heirs of God's kingdom.
The Sacrament of Confession is
the manner in which we reconcile ourselves with God after we commit the an act of sin and, having a contrite heart, truly desire to be reunited fully with God.
Holy Eucharist, is the greatest sacrament - the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, of Jesus Christ—was given
to us by Christ so that we may enter into union with Christ Himself and
His Love, as when Jesus says "He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh blood,
abideth in me, and I in him" (John, 6:57) The Eucharist removes our venial
sins from our soul, and is a great aid in avoiding the temptation to commit
mortal sins. It is because of this that many Saints have said that the
Holy Sacrifice of the Mass (particularly the Eucharist) is "the perfect
Confirmation imparts 1) an increase
of sanctifying grace which makes the recipient a "perfect Christian"; 2)
a special sacramental grace consisting in the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost
and notably in the strength and courage to confess boldly the name of Christ;
3) an indelible character by reason of which the sacrament cannot be received
again by the same person.
Contrary to popular misconception,
the priest does NOT confer the sacrament of Holy Matrimony—the priest is
merely the ‘witness’ to the man and woman making their vows before God.
It is the husband and wife who ‘minister’ the Sacrament to themselves from
God. However, the fact that a husband and wife make the sacrament between
themselves and God does not mean that they can ‘unmake’ this union, as
it is an agreement until the death of one of the parties.
In the Latin Rite, the current
discipline is for only non-married Catholics may be ordained priests; however,
converts to the Catholic Faith who are married may later become ordained
because the Church recognizes their marriage as valid and does not want
to deny them the opportunity to serve the Church as a priest if they had
previously joined in marriage in another Church before knowing the fullness
of the Catholic Faith.
Administered to a person who is
dying, it may be given to both Catholics and non-Catholics who truthfully
declare (in danger of death) to have a desire to enter into the Catholic
Church and profess the Faith that the Catholic Church teaches.
hast committed." By the decree of 25 April, 1906, the Holy Office
has expressly approved of this form for cases of urgent necessity.