Sacraments

Christian Sacraments

History

Roman Catholic theology enumerates seven sacraments:[17] Baptism, Confirmation (Chrismation), Eucharist (Communion), Penance (Reconciliation, Confession), Matrimony (Marriage), Holy Orders (ordination to the diaconate, priesthood, or episcopate) and Anointing of the Sick (before the Second Vatican Council generally called Extreme Unction). The list of seven sacraments already given by the Second Council of Lyon (1274) and the Council of Florence (1439)[18] was reaffirmed by the Council of Trent (1545–1563), which stated:

CANON I. – If any one saith, that the sacraments of the New Law were not all instituted by Jesus Christ, our Lord; or that they are more, or less, than seven, to wit, Baptism, Confirmation, the Eucharist, Penance, Extreme Unction, Order, and Matrimony; or even that any one of these seven is not truly and properly a sacrament; let him be anathema.

[…]

CANON IV. – If any one saith, that the sacraments of the New Law are not necessary unto salvation, but superfluous; and that, without them, or without the desire thereof, men obtain of God, through faith alone, the grace of justification; – though all (the sacraments) are not necessary for every individual; let him be anathema.[19]

The seven sacraments of the Catholic church: Baptism, Confirmation, Matrimony, Eucharist, Penance, Holy Orders and the Anointing of the Sick

During the Middle Ages, sacramental records were in Latin. Even after the Reformation, many ecclesiastical leaders continued using this practice into the 20th century. On occasion, Protestant ministers followed the same practice. Since W was not part of the Latin alphabet, scribes only used it when dealing with names or places. In addition, names were modified to fit a “Latin mold”. For instance, the name Joseph would be rendered as Iosephus or Josephus.[20]

The Catholic Church indicates that the sacraments are necessary for salvation, though not every sacrament is necessary for every individual. The Church applies this teaching even to the sacrament of baptism, the gateway to the other sacraments. It states that “Baptism is necessary for salvation for those to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed and who have had the possibility of asking for this sacrament.”[21][22] But it adds: “God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments,”[21] and accordingly, “since Christ died for the salvation of all, those can be saved without Baptism who die for the faith (Baptism of blood). Catechumens and all those who, even without knowing Christ and the Church, still (under the impulse of grace) sincerely seek God and strive to do his will can also be saved without Baptism (Baptism of desire). The Church in her liturgy entrusts children who die without Baptism to the mercy of God.”[22]

The seven sacramants

In the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church, “the sacraments are efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us. The visible rites by which the sacraments are celebrated signify and make present the graces proper to each sacrament. They bear fruit in those who receive them with the required dispositions.”[23]

While the sacraments in the Catholic Church are regarded as means of Divine Grace, The Catholic definition of a sacrament is an event in Christian life that is both spiritual and physical.[24] The seven Catholic sacraments have been separated into three groups. The first three Sacraments of Initiation are Baptism, Communion, and Confirmation. The two Healing Sacraments are Anointing of the Sick and Penance. The two Sacraments of Vocation are Matrimony and Holy Orders.

The Church teaches that the effect of the sacraments comes ex opere operato, by the very fact of being administered, regardless of the personal holiness of the minister administering it.[25] However, as indicated in this definition of the sacraments given by the Catechism of the Catholic Church, a recipient’s own lack of proper disposition to receive the grace conveyed can block a sacrament’s effectiveness in that person. The sacraments presuppose faith and, through their words and ritual elements, nourish, strengthen and give expression to faith.[26]

Though not every individual has to receive every sacrament, the Church affirms that for believers the sacraments are necessary for salvation. Through each of them, Christ bestows that sacrament’s particular healing and transforming grace of the Holy Spirit, making them participants in the divine nature through union with Christ.[27]

The meaning of Sacraments

BBC Sacraments explained