What are the Seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church?
Sacraments are outward signs of an inward grace instituted by Jesus Christ himself. According to St. Thomas Aquinas the “sacraments of the New Law…. both contain grace and confer it.” The Catechism of St. Thomas Aquinas
The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us:
“Seated at the right hand of the Father” and pouring out the Holy Spirit on his Body which is the Church, Christ now acts through the sacraments he instituted to communicate his grace. The sacraments are perceptible signs (words and actions) accessible to our human nature. By the action of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit they make present efficaciously the grace that they signify.” – CCC 1084
There are 7 Sacraments:
- Penance (Reconciliation)
- Anointing of the Sick
- Holy Orders
The First Sacrament: Baptism, is a regeneration or spiritual re-birth. The individual is a New Creation in the Spirit. "Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." John 3:5
The Second Sacrament: Confirmation, is how the New Creation is spiritually strengthened. "But stay you in the city of Jerusalem till you be endued with power from on high." Luke 24:49
The Third Sacrament: The Eucharist, is how the New Creation is fed “with spiritual food”. "Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, you shall not have life in you." John 6:54
The Fourth Sacrament: Sacrament of Penance, is how this New Creation is spiritually healed (freed from sin and its effects). "Heal, O Lord, my soul, for I have sinned against Thee." Psalm 41:4
The Fifth Sacrament: Anointing of the Sick, is offered to those who are mentally, spiritually, and physically sick. Is confers healing both in soul and in body. "Is any man sick among you? Let him bring in the priests of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith shall save the sick man, and the Lord shall raise him up, and if he be in sins, they shall be forgiven him." James 5:14-15
The Last Two of the Sacraments: Holy Orders and Matrimony, are sacraments of service meant for the common good and building up of Christ’s Church. They strengthen the Church and are meant to increase it spiritually and physically. Holy Order through the Spirit and Matrimony through the physical body.
The Sacraments are what gives the Church the ability to live out the faith.
The Graces that are conferred on the faithful through them, are the way in which God shares His Divine Life with His people. They are gifts from God and are meant to assist each of us to be ever more conformed to Christ.
The more the faithful participate in the sacraments the more unified they are with Christ’s Body, The Church and therefore with Christ. “I am the vine; you the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing.” John 15:5
They quite literally create Heaven on Earth.
Article written by Latrell Castanon for Christian Catholic Media
Latrell Castanon is a freelance writer who studied Catholic Theology at St. Joseph's College of Maine.