The sacraments are special signs of God’s love and presence, instituted by Jesus. The sacraments join Catholics all over the world with Jesus Christ and with one another. The 7 Sacraments are the most important celebrations of the Church.
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Each of the sacraments is a sign of God present in our lives. The sacraments are different from other signs: sacraments truly bring about, or effect, what they represent and are therefore the most important celebrations of the Church. A sacrament is an effective sign given to us by Jesus Christ through which we share in God’s life. The 7 Sacraments celebrated in the Catholic Church are Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance and Reconciliation, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders, and Matrimony. They are divided into three categories: Sacrament of Initiation, Sacraments of Healing, and Sacraments at the Service of Communion.
Christian initiation is the process of becoming a member of the Catholic Church. The Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist initiate us into the Church. Baptism leads Catholics to the other two Sacraments of Initiation: Confirmation and Eucharist. However, not everyone begins or completes Christian Initiation at the same time. Adults and older children participate in the Rite of Christina Initiation of Adults (RCIA) and after a period of preparation, they receive the three Sacraments of Christian Initiation in one celebration, usually at the Easter Vigil.
The sacraments are special signs of God’s love and presence, instituted by Jesus. The sacraments join Catholics all over the world with Jesus Christ and with one another.
Baptism is the first sacrament Catholics receive. At Baptism we are sealed as belonging to Christ. In the Sacrament of Baptism, we are welcomed into the Church and become children of God. Although many Catholics may be baptized as infants or young children, a person can be baptized at any age. During the Sacrament of Baptism, the immersion into water symbolizes that the person being baptized dies to sin and reses to new life in Christ, purified and sanctified. In Baptism, we are freed from original sins and our personal sins are forgiven.
Join in prayer for those who have been baptized. Download a Prayer for the Newly Baptized and share it in your home or parish.
In the Sacrament of Confirmation, we are sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit. Confirmation deepens the grace received at Baptism, and like Baptism we receive the Sacrament of Confirmation only once. Confirmation strengthens us to live as Christ’s followers. Through Confirmation, we become more Christ-like and are strengthened to be active witnesses of Jesus. Our relationship with the Church is strengthened as well; we are sent forth to live our faith in the world. Those who have prepared to celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation, called candidates, are usually confirmed by a bishop during the celebration of the sacrament.
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The Sacrament of the Eucharist is the only Sacrament of Initiation that Catholics celebrate again and again (after preparation for and first reception of the sacrament). The Eucharist is a memorial, a meal, and a sacrifice. Another name for the sacrament is the Mass. In the Sacrament of the Eucharist, we receive Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life, in Holy Communion and are nourished by the Word of God. The grace first received at Baptism grows in those celebrating the sacrament and they are more closely joined to Christ and one another as the Body of Christ, the Church, and strengthened to serve God and care for the needs of others.
As Catholics, we pray before the Blessed Sacrament. Our prayers show Jesus our love and devotion for him. Download a Prayer Before the Blessed Sacrament Prayer Card and share it in your home or parish.
The Church celebrates two Sacraments of Healing: Penance and Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick. In these sacraments, the Church celebrates Jesus’ healing power. Jesus gave his Apostles the power to forgive sins and heal the sick in his name. Today, in the Sacrament of Penance, priests have the power to forgive sins in Jesus’ name. In Anointing of the Sick, the Church offers ill people god’s peace and healing mercy.
In the Sacrament of Penance, members of the Church are reconciled with God and with the Church. In this sacrament, those who are truly sorry confess their sins and priests forgive the sins in the name of Christ and the Church through the power of the Holy Spirit. The Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation strengthens or renews grace. It strengthens Catholics to live by the commandments as disciples of Jesus. Those preparing to celebrate Eucharist for the first time must have prepared for and received the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation first. Catholics celebrate the Sacrament of Penance again and again.
Download a free eBook with five helpful tips to inspire, prepare, calm, and celebrate with children preparing for the first reception of the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Penance and Reconciliation.
The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick is offered to those who are very sick or near death. Family, friends, and parish members gather to pray for God’s healing and mercy. The priest and those gathered pray that the sick person might be healed, and the priest anoints the sick person and prays of their health. Those who receive the sacrament are given the grace to respond to their illness with hope and strengthens their faith in a loving God. This sacrament may be celebrated during Mass or anywhere it is needed, including at the home or hospital of the sick person. Catholics can celebrate this sacrament more than once.
The Church celebrates two Sacraments at the Service of Communion. These sacraments are Matrimony and Holy Orders. Those who receive these sacraments are strengthened to serve God and the Church through a particular vocation.
In the Sacrament of Matrimony, a man and woman become husband and wife and promise to by faithful to each other for the rest of their lives. Matrimony unites a married couple as loving partners and strengthens them to live out their promises to Christ and to one another. During the sacrament, the couple’s love is blessed and strengthened by the grace of the sacrament. The bride and groom are the celebrants in the Sacrament of Matrimony and the priest or deacon acts as a witness and blesses the union that God has joined together. Married couples serve the Catholic Church and by sharing the Gospel in their families, homes, and communities.
In the Sacrament of Holy Orders, baptized men are ordained to serve the Catholic Church as deacons, priests, and bishops. Through this sacrament, the Catholic Church continues the mission of that Jesus Christ first gave to the Apostles---the special mission of preaching the Good News and leading and serving the Catholic Church. Those ordained in the Sacrament of Holy Orders receive the grace necessary to carry out their ministry to the faithful and are imprinted with an indelible sacramental character.
Sacraments are effective signs given to us by Jesus through which we share in God’s life and the most important celebrations of the Church. Use the resources found in this article to teach the 7 Sacraments to Catholic kids and enhance your preparations and celebrations of various sacraments.