The Seven Sacraments

The Catholic Church recognizes seven sacraments:

  • Baptism
  • Eucharist
  • Confirmation
  • Reconciliation
  • Anointing of the sick
  • Marriage
  • Holy orders

We take a brief look at each of these. Please note that each definition expresses orthodox Catholic doctrine.

image depicting baptismIn Baptism, God’s saving grace, His very presence, enters into the human soul. The essential rite of baptism is very simple. The person celebrating the sacrament (usually a priest) says ‘I baptize you in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit’ while pouring water over the head of the person receiving the sacrament or dipping the person in water. For Catholics, baptism is the sacrament of salvation and the door to all other sacraments.
image depicting eucharistThose who partake in the Eucharist receive the real Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ in what appears to be bread and wine. During Mass, regular bread and wine are consecrated by the priest, through God’s power, when he repeats Jesus’s words, ‘This is My Body’ and ‘This is the chalice of My Blood.’
image depicting confirmationConfirmation provides a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit, which helps the confirmed Catholic witness to Christ and lead a mature Christian life. The rite of confirmation, usually performed by a bishop, involves the anointing with chrism (holy oil), the laying on of hands, and the words ‘Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit.’
image depicting reconciliationIn Reconciliation, which is also called ‘confession’ or ‘penance,’ a Catholic confesses his or her sins to a priest in the spirit of true repentance and receives forgiveness. The priest acts as a visible representative of Christ, who forgives sins through Him, when he says the words of absolution: ‘I absolve you of your sins in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.’
image depicting anointin the sickAnointing of the Sick offers the comfort of God’s grace to those who are ill. The sacrament provides spiritual and sometimes physical healing, according to God’s will, but also allows the sick person to join his or her sufferings to Christ and prepare for death. The essential rite of this sacrament involves anointing with the oil of the sick and prayer.
image depicting matrimonyMarriage, or matrimony, joins a man and a woman together in a life-long covenant of self-giving love. The two spouses give their consent to join together in marriage as the Church defines it. God gives special grace to the couple that they may live out their vow.
image depicting holy ordersIn Holy Orders, men are ordained as bishops, priests, and deacons through a bishop’s laying on of hands and prayer. These men are given the grace to live out their lives in service to the Church and to God’s people.