The Seven Sacraments
The Sacraments are an outward sign of God’s love for us and milestones in our faith journey. When we receive a sacrament, God pours out his grace on us as we commit ourselves to Him. Some are received only once in a lifetime. Others may be received more than once or as often as possible to enrich and nurture your relationship with God. The traditional definition of a sacrament is this: "A sacrament is a visible sign, instituted by Christ, to give grace." Within this definition there are three important statements:
- A Visible Sign: An action is performed by a minister (usually a priest). For example, when a baby is baptized in the church the priest pours water over its head and at the same time says the words "I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." That is a visible sign.
- Instituted by Christ: The Lord Jesus Christ instructed His church to offer the seven sacraments to His followers. For example, His directive to His disciples in Matthew's Gospel (28/19), "Go then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples; baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you.
- To Give Grace Grace is God's free gift of Himself as the controlling influence in our life and the decisions we make once we have committed ourselves to Him in faith.
In summary, a sacrament is one of the means God has chosen to influence our life in the direction of his purpose for giving us life
The seven sacraments are: Baptism, Eucharist, Confirmation, Reconciliation, Anointing of the Sick, Marriage, and Holy Orders.
Did You Know?
Throughout your spiritual life from childhood, adolescence, and adulthood, your parish keeps a record of those sacraments administered only once. The parish where you were baptized, confirmed, and married has these records so that as you move through life, your spiritual history follows you. You may be asked to provide a certificate of baptism, confirmation, or marriage. If you don’t have these documents, you can contact the parish where you received those sacraments for a duplicate copy.