Review of Sacraments
What is a Sacrament
A Sacrament is an outward sign, instituted by Christ, to give grace.
Why an outward sign?God
acts in physical ways to help us. We have both physical and spiritual
components. God created the physical, and saw that it was good. Thus
his action through the physical elements is a direct way for Him to
interact with us and to give us grace.
What is Grace?Grace
is God’s life within us. We are surrounded by God, and the sacraments
are a means to allow God’s grace to be within us. There are two types
All sacraments give both kinds of grace.
- Sanctifying Grace: this is an habitual gift, a
stable and supernatural disposition that perfects the soul itself to
enable it to live with God, to act by his love.
- Actual Grace: an intervention by God to begin a conversion or to aid in the work of sanctification.
What is Sin?Simply put, sin is a turning away from God. More completely (from Compendium of the CCC):
is “a word, an act, or a desire contrary to the eternal Law” (Saint
Augustine). It is an offense against God in disobedience to his love.
It wounds human nature and injures human solidarity. Christ in his
passion fully revealed the seriousness of sin and overcame it with his
Sin can be venial or mortal.
What is Venial Sin?Venial
sins are a small turning away. However, we can become indifferent to
God through such sin and thus become more open to temptation to mortal
sin. Since God is perfect, even the “minor” imperfectness of venial sin
is horrible to God.
What is Mortal Sin?A mortal sin is composed of the following three aspects:
Note, sometimes the matter of the sin does not require an exterior action and indeed, may be inaction on the part of the sinner.
- The matter is serious (for instance, murder, adultery, etc)
- The person must know that the matter is serious
- The sin is committed with free will (the sinner cannot be compelled to commit a mortal sin unwillingly)
does someone know that the matter is serious? The church calls us to
have a well formed conscience, in order to know right from wrong. The
church also believes in natural law that is mentioned in Holy
Scriptures, that God has written his law into our hearts. When we
harden our hearts to God, our conscience can “die”. The
Catechism of the Catholic Church is a great to inform ourselves.
Upon death, the punishment of mortal sin is eternal damnation.
What is Temporal Punishment?Temporal
punishment is the remaining need of purification after the forgiveness
of sin. This purification can be done in this life or in purgatory.
Disposition to Receive SacramentsAll
sacraments must be received with the proper disposition. If a sacrament
is received with the proper disposition, then sacraments remove sin and
give grace. For instance, one should not receive Holy Eucharist in the
state of mortal sin. This would be a sacrilege and a further sin.
Ex Opere OperatoSacraments
do what they say they do – literally “by the fact of the action’s being
performed,” i.e., by the virtue of Christ’s saving work accomplished
once for all. The sacrament is not wrought by the righteousness of the
either the celebrant or the recipient, but by the power of God.
it is Christ who acts and effects salvation through the ordained
minister, the unworthiness of the latter does not prevent Christ from
acting. Thus a priest could be in mortal sin and the Eucharist would
still be valid.
Sacraments of InitiationThe
sacraments of initiation are Baptism, Holy Eucharist and Confirmation.
These bring the recipient into the full life of God and the Church.
sacrament initiates us into the life of the Church as children of God.
We become priest, prophet and king. We can only be baptized one time.
God does not go back on his word, so once you are an adopted child, you
are forever a child of God. This is called an indelible mark. (Such an
indelible mark is also the result of Confirmation and Holy Orders)
signs of Baptism are water and words. The water must be plain, flowing
if possible and may be sprinkled, poured or the person may be lowered
into a pool or stream. The words are “I baptize you in the name of the
Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Water symbolizes
cleaning and a joining in the death and resurrection of Jesus.
become adopted children of God, and are given the gifts of the Holy
Spirit so that God’s life can be fruitful in our lives. Baptism also
removes all sin and all temporal punishment due to sin.
28:19: Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them
in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit
Mk 16:16: Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved;
Jn 3:5: Jesus answered, "Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit.
sacrament in some way completes the action of Baptism. We fully receive
the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Confirmation can only be received one
time. By confirmation the baptized are more perfectly bound to the
Church and are enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit.
sign of the sacrament is the laying on of hands and the anointing of
the forehead with sacred chrism and the saying of the words, “be sealed
with the gift of the Holy Spirit.” The chrism is oil that symbolizes a
seal and protection from evil, like a wrestler in Grecian times would
be “oiled” to make him hard to grab. Chrism also is used to anoint
royalty. The laying on of hands symbolizes the passing on of the Holy
perfects the Baptismal graces. It roots us more deeply into divine son
ship, incorporates us more firmly into the Christ, strengthens our bond
with the Church and her mission and helps us bear witness to the
Christian faith in words accompanied by deeds. We
are made ready to defend our faith and our God. The grace we receive
helps us to live through the rejection of others toward us, toward our
toward our God and helps us to actively spread God’s faith to others.
us with this, the
Holy Spirit gives us the following seven gifts:
manage our human affairs according to God's truth; to love the things
over those of the earth
realize the proper path or course of action to follow and
dangers to avoid
understand our faith and its meaning to our life
determine God’s will for us
do what is right and avoid evil even in the face of difficulty
revere and worship god, giving respect to others and joyfully do God’s
|Fear of the Lord
(Wonder and Awe)
love God so much that we fear losing him, to understand that God is so
much greater than us, to be in awe of God
14:16: And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate
8 to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, which the world cannot
accept, because it neither sees nor knows it. But you know it, because
it remains with you, and will be in you.
14:25: "I have told you this while I am with you. The Advocate, the
Holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name--he will teach you
everything and remind you of all that (I) told you.
2:1-4: When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one
place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a
strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were.
Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, 3 which parted and came
to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy
Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled
them to proclaim.
Acts 19:6: And when Paul laid (his) hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.
1:13: In him you also, who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of
your salvation, and have believed in him, were sealed with the promised
Holy Spirit, which is the first installment of our inheritance toward
redemption as God's possession, to the praise of his glory.
Eucharist is the summit of Catholic life. During the celebration of the
Mass, we participate in the sacrifice of Calvary. Christ commanded us
to do this at the Last Supper. The Lord himself comes to us during the
Mass, as we come together (where two or more are gathered), in His Word
(Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word of God), but most
especially and intimately in Holy Communion.
signs of this sacrament are the words of institution and the matter of
bread and wine. The words are “this is my body, this is my blood, do
this in remembrance of me.” The bread must be unleavened as used in
Passover and contain only wheat (no sugar or preservatives). The wine
must be from grapes and contain no preservatives. The bread and wine
(now the body and blood of Christ) nourishes our souls.
Eucharist is the body, blood, soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus
Christ. As St. Augustine says, “We become what we eat!” Usually, what
we eat becomes part of us. In Eucharist we are made more Christ like.
This is what we are called to be as children of God.
6:51-69: I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats
this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my
flesh for the life of the world."
Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us
(his) flesh to eat?" Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do
not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has
eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is
true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks
my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me
and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me
will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from
heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this
bread will live forever." These things he said while teaching in the
synagogue in Capernaum. Then many of his disciples who were listening
said, "This saying is hard; who can accept it?" Since Jesus knew that
his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, "Does this
shock you? What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he
was before? It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no
avail. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there
are some of you who do not believe." Jesus knew from the beginning the
ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him. And he
said, "For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me
unless it is granted him by my Father." As a result of this, many (of)
his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer
accompanied him. Jesus then said to the Twelve, "Do you also want to
leave?" Simon Peter answered him, "Master, to whom shall we go? You
have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are
convinced that you are the Holy One of God."
26:26-28: While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing,
broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, "Take and eat; this is
my body." Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying,
"Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which
will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins.”
22:19: Then he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it
to them, saying, "This is my body, which will be given for you; do this
in memory of me."
Cor 11:23-29: For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to
you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread,
and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, "This is my body
that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." In the same way also
the cup, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my
blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." For as
often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death
of the Lord until he comes. Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks
the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and
blood of the Lord. A person should examine himself, 13 and so eat the
bread and drink the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without
discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself.
Sacraments of HealingThe sacraments of healing are Reconciliation and the Anointing of the Sick.
Reconciliation (Confession, Penance)This
sacrament is the ordinary means of receiving forgiveness of sins,
especially mortal (or grievous) sins. It reconciles us with God
and with his Church. Through this sacrament, one confesses, their sins,
receives absolution, performs penance and desires to amend their lives.
signs of Penance are the words of penitent and the words of Absolution.
The penitent must speak in person to a priest (or bishop) and
afterwards the priest says “I absolve you from your sins in the name of
the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” These words symbolize
the words of Jesus (see Institution)
with the forgiveness of the sins, this sacrament gives us actual grace
to resist sin. For that reason, it is important to receive this
sacrament even when there are no mortal sins. These graces can prevent
us from falling into mortal sin.
Jn 20:21-23: (Jesus) said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you."
when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive
the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose
sins you retain are retained."
Mt 16:19: Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
18:18: Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in
heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Anointing of the SickThis
sacrament is a sacrament of healing and also a sacrament at the time of
death (if possible). Jesus healed many people in his ministry. The
Church celebrates this sacrament for those who are seriously ill as
well as those on their death bed, when it is accompanied, if possible,
by a last Holy Eucharist (called viaticum – passing over). If a person
is lucid and can speak, then often the sacrament of Reconciliation is
signs of this sacrament are the silent laying on of hands and the
anointing with oil. Oil in the form of balm has palliative and healing
effects. The oil symbolizes healing.
grace of this sacrament is one of strengthening, both physically and
spiritually, peace and courage to overcome the difficulties that go
with the condition of serious illness and frailty of old age. The
person receiving the sacrament is united in Christ’s Passion.
Celebrating the sacrament offers the suffering for the sanctification
of the Church.
10:7-8: “As you go, make this proclamation: 'The kingdom of heaven is
at hand.' Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out
Mk 6:13: They drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.
5:14-15: Is anyone among you sick? He should summon the
presbyters of the church, and they should pray over him and anoint
(him) with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith will
save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up. If he has
committed any sins, he will be forgiven.
Sacraments of VocationThe
sacraments of vocation are Matrimony and Holy Orders. Vocation comes
from the Latin word “to call.” We are called by God. A vocation
is our calling in life.
MatrimonyThe sacrament of Matrimony has its origins even in the Old Testament, in Genesis 2:24
“That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body.” Unlike
any other sacrament, Marriage is ministered to one another by the
people celebrating the sacrament, witnessed by an ordained minister of
the Church. Each person must be baptized, come to the marriage of their
own free will and have no impediment by natural or church law. Marriage
is permanent, though it does not impart a mark like baptism or
confirmation in that one can remarry in the case of death of a spouse.
sign of this sacrament are the words exchanged expressing the consent
of the couple. The words are a covenant bond, not a contract.
is hard. Doing anything for a short time, or a few years takes
determination. To have a marriage last a life time takes the grace of
God. The sacrament of Marriage imparts such grace. When coupled with
prayer and the other sacraments, especially Holy Eucharist and
Reconciliation, the grace of this sacrament is awesome. The graces are
meant to perfect the couple’s love for each other, their children and
above all, of God. The graces help them to help one another attain
holiness in their married life and in welcoming and educating their
children. Just as the Church is the bride of Christ and he will not
turn his back on his promises to the Church, so a married couple is
called to the same fidelity and love of one another.
19:4-9: He said in reply, "Have you not read that from the beginning
the Creator 'made them male and female' and said, 'For this reason a
man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and
the two shall become one flesh'? So they are no longer two, but one
flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must
separate." They said to him, "Then why did Moses command that the man
give the woman a bill of divorce and dismiss (her)? He said to them,
"Because of the hardness of your hearts Moses allowed you to divorce
your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. I say to you, whoever
divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) and marries another
10:5-12: But Jesus told them, "Because of the hardness of your hearts
he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, 'God
made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father
and mother (and be joined to his wife), and the two shall become one
flesh.' So they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has
joined together, no human being must separate." In the house the
disciples again questioned him about this. He said to them, "Whoever
divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and
if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery."
sacrament is the means that Christ entrusts his mission to his apostles
and continues to be exercised in the Church until the end of time.
There are three levels of Holy Orders:
“Order” comes from Roman antiquity designating an established civil body, especially a governing body.
- deaconate (Deacon)
- presbyterate (Priest)
- episcopate. (Bishop)
sign of Holy Orders is the imposition of the Bishop’s hands on the head
of the one to be ordained and the recitation of the prayers appropriate
to the degree of ordination. The laying on of hands symbolizes
apostolic succession, to a more or less degree.
in marriage, committing to a life time of service is a tall order. Thus
the grace imparted by the sacrament strengthens the recipient to do the
ministry of Christ, to preach the Gospel, to act as pastor, gratuitous
love for all and preferential love for the poor, the sick and the
needy, to conform their lives with Christ.
28:18-20: Then Jesus approached and said to them, "All power in heaven
and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of
all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have
commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the
22:19: Then he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it
to them, saying, "This is my body, which will be given for you; do this
in memory of me."
20:22-23: And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to
them, "Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven
them, and whose sins you retain are retained."
Acts 6:6: They presented these men to the apostles who prayed and laid hands on them.
13:3: While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit
said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have
called them." Then, completing their fasting and prayer, they laid
hands on them and sent them off.
4:14: Do not neglect the gift you have, which was conferred on you
through the prophetic word with the imposition of hands of the