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The Seven Sacraments

Updated on May 1, 2013

The Baptistery of St. John the Baptist in Florence, Italy

The Duomo of Florence is in the background of this photo. In the foreground is the famous Baptistry of St. John the Baptist, where Dante Alighieri, members of the Medici family, and all Catholic Florentines until the 19th century, were baptized.
The Duomo of Florence is in the background of this photo. In the foreground is the famous Baptistry of St. John the Baptist, where Dante Alighieri, members of the Medici family, and all Catholic Florentines until the 19th century, were baptized. | Source

The Seven Sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church (in order of reception)

  1. Baptism
  2. Reconciliation (or Penance, Confession)
  3. Eucharist (or First Communion)
  4. Confirmation
  5. Marriage
  6. Holy Orders
  7. Anointing of the Sick (formerly called Extreme Unction)

What is a Sacrament?

According to the Roman Catholic Church, a Sacrament is a way to access the grace promised by Jesus Christ, who is the source of he divine life. Through the Sacraments, Jesus gives us this divine life and increases it within us through the Sacraments. In the Sacraments, we unite ourselves to Jesus and He to us, in an ever-deepening union. This increases our own holiness. Through the Sacraments, Jesus is present with us, throughout our lives, and gives us all the help and strength we need, as mortal humans, to grow in the divine life. Roman Catholics believe that these seven Sacraments were instituted by Christ Himself.

The Sacraments of Initiation

In the Roman Catholic Church, there are three Sacraments of Initiation:

  1. Baptism
  2. Confirmation
  3. Eucharist (or First Communion)


Sacramental Character or Sacramental Seal

According to the Roman Catholic Church, three of the seven Sacraments grant a permanent sacramental character, or sacramental seal, in addition to the grace they provide to the recipient of these Sacraments. Through this seal or character, received by receiving each of these Sacraments, a Catholic Christian shares in the priesthood of Jesus Christ and assumes a particular place in the life of the Church. These three Sacraments are Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders. By "permanent," the Roman Catholic Church means that the seal, or character, conferred by each of these Sacraments is indelible; it cannot be erased, lost or changed in any way. For this reason, these three Sacraments can only be received once in a person's lifetime.

The Sacraments of Healing

There are two Sacraments of Healing in the Roman Catholic tradition:

  1. Reconciliation (also known as Confession or Penance)
  2. Anointing of the Sick (formerly called Extreme Unction)

Purpose of the Sacraments

The Sacraments communicate the divine life and make people holy. They do this by calling to mind God’s saving actions, especially the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and by anticipating the future glory (in the afterlife, in heaven) that Christ promised us.

The Sacraments are sacred signs. They not only communicate an idea (like a smile communicates the fact that we are happy, in a good mood), Roman Catholics believe that they also produce within each one of us the idea that they symbolize. That is, the Sacraments do not just make each of us aware of the divine life; they actually create, produce this divine life inside each of us.

The Sacraments of Service

The Roman Catholic Church recognizes two Sacraments of Service:

  1. Holy Orders
  2. Marriage (or Matrimony)

Celebrating the Sacraments

The Sacraments are meant to be celebrated in the context of the greater Catholic community, so the preparation and reception of the Sacraments should take place, insomuch as possible, at the recipient's Church, or parish, among the presence of fellow parishioners, family members and/or close friends.Community strengthens us and encourages us in our commitment to the Church, its grace-filled Sacraments, and, ultimately, to our goal of personal and global salvation. The main reason why, thanks to Vatican II, the Church changed from celebrating the Sacraments in Latin to the vernacular (the language of the people) was to increase the sense of community and participation in the celebration of the Sacraments.

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  • everymom profile image
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    Anahi Pari-di-Monriva 4 years ago from Massachusetts

    Thanks for stopping by, Saffron Blossom. I actually have many friends who are Baptist and, while a very different faith from Catholicism, there are many similarities, particularly the emphasis on the Savior!

  • SaffronBlossom profile image

    SaffronBlossom 4 years ago from Dallas, Texas

    I grew up Baptist, so this is very interesting to me! Thanks for teaching me something I didn't know. :)

  • everymom profile image
    Author

    Anahi Pari-di-Monriva 4 years ago from Massachusetts

    LOL, Randi! I know; I'm pretty proud of myself for publishing right on Day 1, for the first time! Thanks for voting up and interesting....but, most importantly, thanks for reading and for your support!

  • btrbell profile image

    Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

    Look at you, all published on the first day of the month!! But seriously, a great, informtive hub! I learned something today! Thank you! Up, interesting!