The life of the Catholic Church are the seven sacraments — Baptism (a sacrament of Christian initiation), Confirmation (a sacrament of Christian initiation), Eucharist (a sacrament of Christian initiation), Reconciliation (a sacrament of healing), Anointing of the Sick (a sacrament of healing), Marriage, and Holy Orders.
When we worship as we should through the sacraments, God gives us grace to better know him, love him, serve him, and one day join him in Heaven.
Sacraments of Christian Initiation
Baptism is the first of the three Sacraments of Initiation which are Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist. It is the doorway to all the other sacraments. “Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit (vitae spiritualis ianua), and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission.” (CCC 1213)
Read more at CCC 1213-1284.
The second Sacrament of Initiation completes the action of baptism. In this sacrament, which through has become separated from baptism, is when there “is a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit as once granted to the apostles on the day of Pentecost.” (CCC 1302) Confirmation increases and deepens baptismal grace. Through this sacrament, the recipient is rooted more deeply in the Trinity, unites one more firmly to Christ, increases the gifts of the Holy Spirit, perfects our bond with the Church, and gives us the strength of the Holy Spirit to spread and defend the Catholic Christian faith. (CCC 1303)
Read more at CCC 1285-1321.
Engaging confirmation activity ideas may be accessed here.
With the reception of Holy Eucharist, the Sacraments of Initiation are completed—we are fully initiated members of the Church. “The Eucharist is ‘the source and summit of the Christian life.’ The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself.” (CCC 1324) Through the God-given powers of bishops and priest, Catholics believe that the bread (host) and wine are actually changed into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ in all aspects except form. When Eucharist is received, the actual Body and Blood of Jesus is consumed and gives strength and unity to the Church.
Read more at CCC 1322-1419.
Sacraments of Healing
Reconciliation is one of the two Sacraments of Healing. Through this sacrament we encounter a forgiving Christ. The priest/bishop represents Christ and the community of the Church and allows us to receive forgiveness for our sins. The sacrament forces us to confront our sinfulness and plead for mercy. Through the grace of forgiveness we can continue our journey and follow the way of God. This sacrament is known by many names: sacrament of Conversion, Penance, Confession, sacrament of forgiveness and Sacrament of Reconciliation. Each name points to a different aspect of the sacrament. (CCC 1423-1424) There are four essential elements to this sacrament: contrition, confession, absolution, and penance.
Read more at CCC 1422-1498.
Anointing of the Sick
The second sacrament of healing is Anointing of the Sick in which a priest anoints the sick with oil blessed specifically for that purpose. “Illness and suffering have always been among the gravest problems confronted in human life. In illness, man experiences his powerlessness, his limitations, and his finitude. Every illness can make us glimpse death. The Anointing of the Sick is not a sacrament for those only who are at the point of death. Hence, as soon as anyone of the faithful begins to be in danger of death from sickness or old age, the fitting time for him to receive this sacrament has certainly already arrived.” (CCC 1500, 1514) A new illness or a worsening of health enables a person to receive the sacrament a further time.
Read more at CCC 1499-1532.
Matrimony is one of the Sacraments at the Service of Communion. Marriage is a part of God’s plan beginning with the creation of the universe. “The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament.” (Canon Law 1055) This sacrament provides the grace for the spouses to fulfill the mission of building up the Church.
Read more at CCC 1601-1666.
The second Sacrament at the Service of Communion is Holy Orders. Through this sacrament, men are ordained to the service of the faithful. The three degrees of orders are deacon, priest, and bishop. Through the laying on of hands and anointing, the bishop confers the sacrament on men to continue the mission of Christ and building communion among the faithful. The bishop receives the fullness of the sacrament, making him a member of the body of successors of the Apostles, and giving him the mission to teach, sanctify, and govern, along with the care of all the Churches.
Read more at CCC 1536-1600.