“The sacraments are efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us.” (The Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1131)
What is a Sacrament?
“But as many as received Him, He gave the power to become sons of God…which are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13)
“For the Son of God became man so that man might become God.” (St Athanasius of Alexandria, De Incarnatione, 54,3)
The transformation of man into God through Jesus Christ can effectively summarize the entire mission of the Church. She carries out this mission in union with the Holy Spirit primarily through her seven sacraments. Derived from the Latin word sacrare—meaning “to make sacred” or “to immortalize”—the word sacrament denotes a sacred rite in which a material object (such as water, bread, or wine), together with the special words of the minister, becomes the medium through which this divine transformation is effected. This transformation is necessary for participation in the life of God both here on earth and then forever in heaven. For this reason, the sacraments are necessary for salvation (CCC, 1129).
Seven is the biblical number for completion or perfection. Since our nature is completed or perfected when we are made sons of God, it is fitting that there are seven sacraments: the three Sacraments of Initiation, the two Sacraments of Healing, and the two Sacraments of Service.
What are the Sacraments of Initiation?
The Sacraments of Initiation are Baptism, Confirmation, and the Holy Eucharist. They are called “Sacraments of Initiation” because they initiate us into the divine life of God. Baptism begins this new life, Confirmation seals, strengthens, and confirms it, and the Holy Eucharist nourishes and preserves it. (CCC, 1212)
What are the Sacraments of Healing?
The Sacraments of Healing are Penance or Reconciliation, and the Anointing of the Sick. They are called “Sacraments of Healing” because they restore the life of the soul which can be lost through sin, and also bring healing to the physical body which, from the time of the fall of our first parents, is subject to suffering, illness, and death. (CCC, 11420-1421)
What are the Sacraments of Service?
The Sacraments of Service are Matrimony and Holy Orders. They are called “Sacraments of Service” because they are “directed towards the service of others. They confer a special mission in the Church and serve to build up the People of God” (CCC, 1534).
For more information, or for specific sacramental related questions, please feel free to contact Karen Schindler at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling the Parish Office at 360-695-1366.