The Seven Sacraments

Introduction

The seven sacraments—Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Communion, Confession, Marriage, Holy Orders, and the Anointing of the Sick—are the life of the Catholic Church. Each sacrament is an outward sign of an inward grace. When we participate in them worthily, each provides us with graces—with the life of God in our soul. In worship, we give to God that which we owe Him; in the sacraments, He gives us the graces necessary to live a truly human life.

The first three sacraments—Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Communion—are called the sacraments of initiation, because the rest of our life as a Christian depends on them.

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The Sacrament of Baptism:

The Sacrament of Baptism, the first of the three sacraments of initiation, is also the first of the seven sacraments in the Roman Catholic Church. For Catholics, it is not only the entrance to membership to the Mystical Body of Christ on earth, the Church but also the washing away  of the effects of Original Sin ( disobedience to God )  that we inherited as mortals from our first parents Adam and Eve. In Baptism, we choose to obey God and reject the enticement of the devil.

The Sacrament of Confirmation:

The Sacrament of Confirmation is the second of the three sacraments of initiation because, historically, it was administered immediately after the Sacrament of Baptism. Confirmation perfects our baptism and brings us the graces of the Holy Spirit that were granted to the Apostles on Pentecost Sunday. Catholics believe that there are seven  essential gifts of the Holy Spirit that helps us  in fulfilling our mission as disciples of Christ. They are

1)Wisdom: helps us judge what is important, meaningful, purposeful, etc.
2) Understanding: to know something is different from truly understanding it. We can know a lot of facts about someone, but that is different from truly understanding that person.
3) Counsel: helps us differentiate between right and wrong.
4) Fortitude: courage and endurance.
5) Knowledge: helps us to know God.
6) Piety: proper reverence for God, helps us obey God out of love.
7) Fear of the Lord: proper disdain for sin and awe of God’s goodness and love.

The Sacrament of Holy Communion:

While Catholics in the West today normally make their First Communion before they receive the Sacrament of Confirmation, the Sacrament of Holy Communion, the reception of Christ’s Body and Blood, was historically the third of the three sacraments of initiation. This sacrament is the source of great graces that sanctify us and help us grow in the likeness of Jesus Christ. Our belief in receiving  Christ in the Eucharist comes from  Jesus himself when he told his disciples during the Last Supper  in Matthew 26:26-28   " While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body." Then He took the cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying,  “Drink from it, all of you. This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

The Sacrament of Reconciliation  (  Confession ) :

The Sacrament of Reconciliation comes from our belief that the authority to forgive sin in the name of Jesus was given to the Church. In Matthew 18:18, when Jesus entrusted the leadership of the Church to Peter, he also entrusted to the Church the power to forgive sins in His name " And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatever you  bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. "In Luke 24: 47, an essential part of the proclamation of the Good News is the forgiveness  of sins"  and in His name repentance and forgiveness of sins will be proclaimed to all nations, beginning in Jerusalem. 

The Sacrament of  Matrimony  ( Marriage ) :

Marriage, a lifelong union between a man and a woman for procreation and mutual support, is a natural institution, but it is also one of the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church. It reflects the union of Jesus Christ and His Church. Jesus himself believed in the sacredness of marriage practiced in his Jewish religion. In Matthew 19:5 he  said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'

The Sacrament of Holy Orders:

The Sacrament of Holy Orders is the continuation of Christ’s priesthood, which He bestowed upon His Apostles. There are three levels to this sacrament: the episcopate, the priesthood, and the diaconate.

The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick:

Traditionally referred to as Extreme Unction or Last Rites , the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick is administered both to the dying and to those who are gravely ill or are about to undergo a serious operation, for the recovery of their health and for spiritual strength.




St. Kateri Tekakwitha Catholic Community