SACRAMENTS IN GENERAL
The Latin word sacramentum means “a sacred mystery.” The seven sacraments are holy ceremonies or sacred rituals that convey God’s saving presence or sanctifying grace. Being sacred mysteries they are physical signs that render God’s invisible grace present in the soul.
All of the seven Sacraments were instituted by Christ Himself and bestowed upon His Church, the Catholic Church as sacred Gifts. Each one is comprised by divine decree of a particular form (formula of words in the Ritual) and matter (something done or seen). For example, in Baptism, the form is the trinitarian formula in the Bible: “I baptize you in the name of the Father …” and the pouring of water.
For Catholics, the Sacrament of Baptism is the first step in a eternal journey of commitment and discipleship. Whether we are baptized as infants or adults, Baptism is the gateway unto the other Sacraments when we become a child of God, a member of His royal Family.
Holy Communion is the sacramental fruit or effect of the Sacrifice of the Mass. We believe that the consecrated Bread and Wine at Mass become the Body and Blood of Christ, which is called His Real Presence. He nourishes our soul once it is born again in Baptism to prepare us for eternal life.
The Sacrament of Penance (also known as Confession and Reconciliation) is the normal manner of the forgiveness of sins after Baptism. It consists of three elements: contrition, confession and satisfaction. In it we find God’s unconditional forgiveness; as a result we are called to forgive others.
Confirmation is a deepening of baptismal gifts. It is one of the three Sacraments of Initiation for Catholics. It is most often associated with the gifts of the Holy Spirit and is received in the transition of adolescence. The ordinary minister is the bishop of the Diocese who anoints with holy chrism.
Holy Matrimony is a public, external exchange of vows by a man and a woman whereby they establish a sacred covenant of love before God, which is indissoluble. The priest or deacon as the Church’s minister is God’s witness to the reality of the sacred bond.
The Priesthood or Holy Orders is a vocation or calling by God to serve His Church. It has three degrees of levels: deacon, priest and bishop. One is ordained after much preparation by the bishop who imposes his hands and says the words of consecration. Short but meaningful clip on what is the priesthood.
Anointing of the Sick, formerly known as Last Rites or Extreme Unction, is an anointing of the body by a priest using blessed oil when a baptized person is seriously ill or in danger of death. It heals the soul of sin and sometimes can heal the body and grants peace of soul and trust in God.