The Church recognizes seven sacraments as holy rites that were instituted by Jesus Christ and which help to build up the body of Christ, the Church.
These seven sacraments are:
- Holy Eucharist
- Extreme Unction
- Holy Orders
Each of these sacraments is considered to be a means of grace, through which the faithful can receive divine life and grow in their relationship with God. The sacraments are also visible signs of the invisible grace of God at work in the lives of believers.
A Brief Explanation
Baptism – The sacrament of baptism is the first sacrament of initiation into the Catholic Church. Through baptism, one is cleansed of original sin and becomes a member of the Church. The rite involves pouring water over the head of the person being baptized while saying specific words, such as “I baptise you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
Confirmation – The sacrament of confirmation strengthens the grace of baptism and seals the one being confirmed with the gift of the Holy Spirit. The bishop or priest anoints the forehead of the person being confirmed with sacred chrism (a mixture of oil and perfume) and lays his hands on the person’s head while saying specific prayers.
Holy Eucharist – The sacrament of the Holy Eucharist is the central act of worship in the Catholic Church. The bread and wine used in the celebration of the Eucharist become the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ through a process known as transubstantiation.
Penance – The sacrament of penance, sometimes called reconciliation, provides an opportunity for us to confess our sins and receive absolution. The priest acts in the name of Christ and has the power to pronounce the forgiveness of sins committed after baptism.
Extreme Unction – The sacrament of Extreme Unction is a rite intended for those who are seriously ill or facing death. The priest anoints the person’s forehead and hands with sacred oil, prays for their healing, and offers them the opportunity to receive the Holy Eucharist.
Holy Orders – The sacrament of Holy Orders is the rite through which men are ordained as deacons, priests, or bishops in the Catholic Church. These men are consecrated for the service of the Church and are set apart to perform specific duties and responsibilities.
Matrimony – The sacrament of matrimony is the rite through which a man and a woman become husband and wife in the eyes of the Church. The sacrament is a covenant between the couple, God, and the Church, and it is intended to be a lifelong bond.