What are the sacraments?

Mission Lab

The Church teaches that sacraments are sensible signs, given to us by Jesus Christ, through which He communicates invisible grace and inward sanctification to our souls. When we receive the sacraments, we encounter the Person of Christ. The Seven Sacraments are: Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Order and Matrimony.

The sacraments are outward signs of both God’s grace and man’s faith. By words and signs they nourish, strengthen, and express faith. They also impart grace to help us to know, love, and worship God and to love and serve our neighbor.

As visible signs, they show us that God’s grace is imparted to the souls of the persons who receive them. We perceive the signs with our bodily eyes. But it is only through “eyes of faith” that we can know that God gives us His grace. We believe this based on the word of Christ Himself, Who gave us the sacraments that we might share God’s own life through grace.

The sacramental signs are made up of words and actions. Water, because it is a vital necessity, is used as a sign of both physical life and divine life in Baptism. Baptism does not simply symbolize life; it really gives life. Oil is used to bring strength and healing to the body. In Confirmation and in the Anointing of the Sick, it is used to signify and give the strength of these sacraments. Confirmation not only signifies strength, but also gives it. Anointing of the Sick is not only a sign of health, but it actually gives health.