Our Catholic Faith - Sacraments
"Sacraments are the signs established by Christ that cause what they signify. They heal us from sin and plant, nourish and restore the life of grace in us. The sacraments are important because they make the power of the Paschal mystery of Jesus Christ present to us for the sake of our salvation. By these seven channels of grace, God makes us his adopted children and increases his life of grace within us". (Evangelium, CTS 2009)
The Seven Sacraments touch all the stages and all the important moments of Christian life: they give birth and increase, healing and mission to the Christian's life of Faith. There is thus a certain resemblance between the stages of natural life and the stages of the spiritual life. (CCC § 1210).
There are seven sacraments - channels of grace by which God adopts us as his children and maintain and increases his life of grace within us.
In Baptism the minister pours water of the head of the candidate (or immerses him or her) and says, "[Name] I baptise you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit". This effects the forgiveness of sins and initiates the new Christian in the life of grace and in membership of the Church, the mystical Body of Christ.
In the sacrament of Confirmation the bishop (or priest, on the bishop's behalf) anoints a person's forehead with the Sacred Oil of Chrism used at ordinations and coronations, and says, "Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit". This seals the Christian with Holy Spirit, preparing them for the mature Christian life.
At the Eucharist (also known as the Mass), the priest consecrates the bread and wine, saying "This is my body, which will be given up for you ...; this is the chalice of my Blood". Here, the sacrifice of Calvary is re-presented and Christ is made truly and really present, giving us himself as spiritual food.
In the sacrament of Confession (sometimes referred to as the Sacrament of Penance or Reconciliation), the penitent confesses sins with real sorrow and repentance (contrition). The priest, acting in the place of Christ, gives absolution by saying, "I absolve you from your sins...". By these words and actions sins are forgiven and the grace of baptism is restored.
When a person is sick, they may recieve the sacrament of Anointing. In this the priest anoints the sick person's forehead and hands with oil, praying the words prescribed. This brings about the forgiveness of sins and gives spiritual strength and healing to the sick person.
At ordination, the bishop administers the sacrament of Holy Orders. At the ordination of deacons, priests and bishops, the bishop lays his hands on the head of the candidate and then says or sings the prayer of consecration for ordination. This ordains a minister to act in the person of Christ, appropriate to the order they are ordained to.
In the Matrimony, the spouses express their consent to one another following the prescribed canonical form, usually before a priest or deacon. This creates a union between the spouses as Christ in united to the Church.
Adapted from the Evangelium course by Fr Marcus Holden & Fr Andrew Pinsent (CTS 2009).
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