What are Sacraments? 

“The sacraments are efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us” through the work of the Holy Spirit (CCC 1131).

Sacraments of Initiation

Baptism:  The first Sacrament of Initiation by which we are freed from all sin and are endowed with the gift of divine life, are made members of the Church, and are called to holiness and mission.

Confirmation:  This is a Sacrament of Initiation in which the bishop or a delegated priest confers Confirmation through the anointing with chrism on the recipient’s forehead, which is done by the laying of a hand, while saying, “Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit.”  Confirmation completes the grace of Baptism by a special outpouring of the gifts of the Spirit, which seals and confirms the baptized in union with Christ and calls them to greater participation in the worship and apostolic life of the Church.

Eucharist:  During the celebration of the Mass, by the power of the Holy Spirit and the proclamation of Jesus’ words by the priest, the bread and wine are changed into the Body and Blood Christ, which is offered in an unbloody manner in sacrifice for us and in praise to the Father.  The assembly actively participates by prayers, hymns, psalms, responses, and an inner self-offering along with Christ to the Father.  All who are properly prepared can receive Holy Communion, by which Jesus gradually transforms the receivers into himself and which them to Gospel witness in the world.

Sacraments of Healing

Penance and Reconciliation:  Also called Confession, Conversion, and Forgiveness, this is a Sacrament in which sins committed after Baptism are forgiven.  It results in reconciliation with God and the Church.

Anointing of the Sick:  This Sacrament of healing is given to a person who is seriously ill or in danger of death due to sickness or old age.  Elderly people may be anointed if they are in weak condition though no dangerous illness is present.

Sacraments of the Service of Communion

Matrimony: “The matrimonial covenant by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of the sacrament” (CCC 1601).

Holy Orders:  The Sacrament in which a bishop ordains a man to be conformed to Jesus Christ by grace, to service and leadership in the Church.  A man can be ordained a deacon, priest, or bishop.  Through this Sacrament, the mission entrusted by Christ to his Apostles continues to be exercised in the Church.  This Sacrament confers a permanent mark or character on the one who receives it.