Definition of Sacraments

The Sacraments of Christian initiation

Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist – lay the foundations of every Christian life. 

The Sacraments of Healing 

Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick.

The Sacraments of Service  

Holy Orders and Matrimony.

Baptism

It is always a joyous occasion when a person is baptized into the Catholic Faith. See below for more information about baptism as it is understood and taught by the universal church. If you are seeking to know more about baptism, please click the appropriate quick link below.

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Eucharist

The Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life” (Lumen Gentium [Dogmatic Constitution on the Church], no. 11). In the Eucharistic Liturgy and our prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, we encounter God’s presence in personal and profound ways. But the Eucharist is also social, as Pope Benedict XVI reminds us in Deus Caritas Est (God Is Love): “A Eucharist which does not pass over into the concrete practice of love is intrinsically fragmented” (no. 14).

The Eucharist, celebrated as a community, teaches us about human dignity, calls us to right relationship with God, ourselves, and others. As the Body of Christ, it sends us on mission to help transform our communities, neighborhoods, and world. Church teaching, rooted in both Scripture and Tradition, emphasizes both the personal and social natures of the Eucharist. This guide highlights Popes Paul VI, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI’s writings about the social nature of the Eucharist. Their words challenge and move us to encounter Christ in the Eucharist in ways both personal and social.

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Confirmation

Confirmation enriches the baptized with the strength of the Holy Spirit so that they can better witness to Christ in word and deed (Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC], no. 1285). Anointed by the Holy Spirit at Confirmation, Christians strengthen their bond with the Church and become better equipped to carry out the Church’s mission of love and service.

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Reconciliation

The new life in Christ that begins in Baptism may be weakened or lost through
sin. Sin ruptures not only our relationship with God but also with our brothers and sisters.

By the nourishing light of the Holy Spirit, we are able to prepare for the Sacrament of Penance by examiningour consciences to identify those ways in which we are not in right relationship with God and with others. This examination also challenges us to recognize our own participation in the “structures of sin” that degrade others’ lives and dignity.

Through the Sacrament of Penance, God offers mercy and forgiveness. In response to this gift, we are called to become vehicles of Christ’s love, making amends and restoring justice and the bonds that have been broken. Healed and forgiven, we are sent to work for peace, justice,
and love in our communities and world.

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Anointing of the Sick

Anointing of the Sick is the sacrament that is received by those who are ill or suffering. By the sacred anointing and the prayer of the priest, the whole Church commends those who are sick to Christ. The sick person receives the Holy Spirit’s gifts of strength, faith, peace, and courage, and his or her suffering is united with the suffering of Christ for the building up of the Church (Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC], nos. 1520-23).

Through the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, the Church carries out Jesus’ mission of compassion and healing for the sick. The
one who is ill can also be a minister to others. By uniting their suffering to Christ, those who are sick can be signs of faith and witnesses of Christ’s Resurrection to the entire community (Pope John Paul
II,
Christifideles Laici [The Vocation and the Mission of the Lay Faithful in the Church and in the World], no. 54).

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Matrimony

In Christian marriage, spouses model the love and self-gift of Christ. By giving
of themselves and serving one another, their family, and community, they help one another live out Christ’s call to discipleship, love, and service. Marriage provides
a foundation for a family committed to community, solidarity, and Jesus’ mission in the world.

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Holy Orders

By virtue of our Baptism, all Christians are part of a common priesthood of believers. We are all called to participate in Christ’s mission. Through the Sacrament of Holy Orders, bishops and priests are given a special role in carrying out this mission. They exercise a ministerial priesthood. Deacons also receive a special grace through ordination and are called to assist the ministry of bishops and priests (Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC], nos. 1547, 1554).

Pope Benedict XVI writes, “The priest is above all a servant of others” (Sacramentum Caritatis [Sacrament of Charity], no. 23). In gathering the community, modeling Christ’s love for the poor, presiding at Eucharist, and evangelizing social realities, ordained ministers help Christians imitate Christ’s mission of love and justice.

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