The seven sacraments of the Catholic Church unite all Catholics with Jesus Christ and one another. The sacraments are the most important celebrations of the Church, with the Sacrament of Eucharist as the source and summit of Christian life.
The sacraments are called effective signs because they bring about what they signify.
The sacraments give us grace, the gift of sharing in God’s life, and the ability to lead a life worthy of the God who calls us. The Sacraments of Christian Initiation—Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist— bring us into the fullness of life with God and initiate us as members of the Church. The Sacraments of Healing—Penance and Anointing of the Sick—restore and reconcile us to God and strengthen us in body and soul. In the Sacraments of Service—Matrimony and Holy Orders—we witness and celebrate the calling to love and ministry of married people and of bishops, priests, and deacons.
The sacraments give us grace, the gift of sharing in God’s life, and the ability to lead a life worthy of the God who calls us.
The three sacraments of initiation are Baptism, Eucharist, and Confirmation. These are the sacraments that initiate Catholics into to the Church.
Baptism is the first sacrament Catholics receive. During Baptism, immersion into water symbolizes dying to sin and rising to new life in Christ, purified and sanctified. Baptism is the first of the seven sacraments that Catholics receive. In this sacrament, those baptized are welcomed into the Church and become children of God. Although many Catholics are baptized as infants or young children, a person can be baptized at any age.
The grace first received at Baptism grows in those celebrating the Sacrament of the Eucharist. The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life. Through the sacrament, they are more closely joined to Jesus Christ and one another as the Body of Christ, the Church. Eucharist strengthens Catholics to serve God and care for the needs of others. Eucharist is the only Sacrament of Initiation that Catholics celebrate over and over. At Mass, Catholics receive Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life in Holy Communion and are nourished by the Word of God.
Like Baptism, Confirmation is a sacrament that Catholics receive only once. The Sacrament of Confirmation seals us with the Gift of the Holy Spirit, deepening Baptismal grace. Those who receive the sacrament of Confirmation become more Christ-like and are strengthened to be active witnesses of Jesus Christ.
There are two sacraments of healing: Penance and Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick. Both sacraments can be celebrated more than once; Catholics are called to regularly celebrate Penance and Reconciliation.
The Sacrament of Penance renews our grace, strengthening us to live by the commandments as disciples of Jesus. During the sacrament of Penance, members of the Church are reconciled with God and the Church after they confess their sins and priests forgive the sins in the name of Christ and the Church through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Anointing of the Sick is a sacrament that gives those who are very ill or near death the grace to respond to their illness with hope and faith in a loving God. The priest anoints the sick person, and all those gathered, including friends, family members, and the parish community, pray for healing.
The two Sacraments at the Service of Communion are Matrimony and Holy Orders. Those who receive these sacraments are strengthened to serve God and the Church through a particular vocation: as married couples, or as deacons, priests, and bishops.
In matrimony, a bride and groom are the celebrants, joined through the sacrament as loving partners and strengthened them to live out their promises to Christ and to one another. In Holy Orders, baptized men receive grace to carry out their ministry to the faithful and are imprinted with an indelible sacramental character.
Reflecting on the meaning of the sacrament for each of us is an experience that supports our own faith journeys, both personal and communal. The Sacraments Quilt Activity can be a project completed by individuals, families, or communities such as schools or parishes.
The simple definition of a quilt is a warm coverlet or bedspread that is stitched together in layers. Quilts are symbols of family values and heritage, and they carry the connotation of comfort, love, and tradition. They also represent connections. Quilts are often heirlooms, handed down by generations. Handmade quilts are unique and beautiful works of art.
The Sacraments Quilt Activity is an opportunity to reflect on and then represent each sacrament as a square on a paper quilt. Individual quilt squares can be completed and arranged by individuals, families, or communities. Each square has a unique design with a unifying thread representing the Sacrament of Eucharist, central to the fabric of our faith. A collection of Sadlier Sacraments Quilt squares creates a paper quilt you can design and share with your community.
Here are four ideas to build your Sadlier Sacraments Quilt:
Collect all the Sacrament Quilt squares at www.SadlierReligion.com/SacramentsQuilt
1. Host a prayer service in your parish or Catholic school. Prior to the prayer service, distribute the quilt squares from the activity to all participants. Invite them to take the time to complete them in advance. If you are in a Catholic school, this might become a project in which each grade focuses on a sacrament, or teachers work with students in religious education to complete squares as a reflection activity. If you are in a parish, this might become a project in which family members complete a set of squares reflecting their shared experience of the sacraments. Participants should bring completed squares to the prayer service. During the prayer service, include prayers from or about each of the seven sacraments. Invite participants to come up and affix their squares together at an appropriate time. (Be sure to provide tape or other materials to adhere squares together during the event.)
2. Schedule a six-session mini “quilt club” hosted in a parish hall or Catholic school enrichment program. Each week, focus on the sacraments in the Sacraments Quilt Activity downloads. Make time to share information about the sacrament, and then invite reflection and conversation. Provide art supplies and time to craft and complete the appropriate quilt square each session. Have participants build their paper quilt throughout the course of the session. Provide frames or suggestions for participants to display their completed quilt projects at home.
3. Send a set of quilt squares home with each student or family in your school or parish religious education program. Dedicate a large space visible to visitors in your community to assembling a community sacraments quilt. As families complete the squares, add them to your community quilt and watch it grow. You may even have multiple quilts organized by grade, sacrament, or patchworks. When complete, invite families to walk through and admire the Sacraments Quilt(s).
4. Add your completed family or community squares to a virtual quilt by sharing your quilt squares on social media. Tag @SadlierReligion and use the hashtag #SadlierSacramentsQuilt to be featured and to see a global Sacrament Quilt grow.
The seven sacraments unite us with Jesus Christ and one another. The Sacraments Quilt Activity invites reflection on each of the sacraments and becomes a community patchwork that celebrates connections and the presence of God’s life in us.