One of the ways the Church lives as the Body of Christ is through the special rituals we call the Seven Sacraments. Each sacrament is a visible sign of the hidden mystery of God’s love.
In the Sacraments, Jesus acts in and through the ritual. Through the work of the Holy Spirit, the transforming grace of Christ’s action is gifted to those participating. A Sacrament is more than a symbol of a spiritual reality; it makes the spiritual reality present as the Sacrament is celebrated.
The Catholic Church has seven Sacraments. They all centre on two important aspects:
- The life and ministry of Jesus
- The Tradition of the Church
As the early Church grew and reflected on its experience, it recognised that God’s grace is active in our lives:
- New life is given to us
- The Holy Spirit strengthens and supports us
- We share in Jesus’ sacrifice, death and resurrection
- God forgives our sins
- When we are ill we are healed
- Some people are called to special roles of service within the Church
- Many people are called to share life and create new families
Over time these ‘moments of grace’ were ritualised into what we now experience as the official Sacraments of the Church.
All the Sacraments are community celebrations. Celebrations of our membership in the Body of Christ.
- Initiation: There are three Sacraments of Initiation – Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist.
Together they initiate new members and provide the strength and nourishment required for Christian life to flourish.
- Healing: There are two Sacraments of Healing – Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick.
They are gifts of spiritual and physical healing.
- Service: There are two Sacraments of Service – Holy Orders and Matrimony.
The Church celebrates these ministries of love and service.