Sacraments are central for Catholics. They help us meet the incarnate Jesus, who comes to us through cleansing water and invigorating oil to welcome us, life-giving bread and wine that become Christ's Body and Blood, a hand outstretched in forgiveness, vows lovingly exchanged in marriage, a hand designating someone for ordained service and oil to strengthen the sick and comfort the dying.
The Latin word sacramentum means ' a sign of the sacred'. The seven sacraments are ceremonies that point to what is sacred, significant and important for Christians. They are special occasions for experiencing God's saving presence. That is what theologians mean when they say that sacraments are at the same time signs and instruments of God's grace.
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 'Celebrated worthily in faith, the sacraments confer the grace that they signify. They are efficacious because in them Christ himself is at work; it is he who baptises, he who acts in his sacraments in order to communicate the grace that each sacrament signifies'.
These seven sacraments are:
- The Sacrament of Baptism
- The Sacrament of Confirmation
- The Sacrament of Holy Communion
- The Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession)
- The Sacrament of Marriage
- The Sacrament of Holy Orders
The Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick (traditionally known as the Last Rites)