Sacraments of the Catholic Church

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Did you know there are seven sacraments of the Catholic Church? Let’s talk about the beautiful and meaningful sacraments of the Catholic Church, how they impact our lives, and why they bring us closer to God.

The Seven Catholic Sacraments Sign Image

What is a sacrament?

The sacraments are outward signs of inward grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church.  They help people in their spiritual life and to grow in holiness.  The sacraments are signs of God’s sacred presence in our world today.   They also impart grace, nourishing and strengthening us spiritually as individuals but also as a community of faith and helping us to give praise and worship to God.

There are seven Sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Reconciliation, Anointing of the Sick, Matrimony, and Holy Orders.

Where did the Sacraments Originate?

The origin of the sacraments can be traced back to the teachings of Jesus Christ. In the Bible, Christ gives his followers clear instructions on how to administer and receive each of the sacraments. This is seen through his work with the Apostles, healing the sick, parables, giving his body and blood to nourish our souls and forgiving sinners. The Church administers these holy sacraments as instructed, in order for all to worship God and receive His salvation.

The seven sacraments are Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance (Reconciliation), Anointing of the Sick (Extreme Unction), Holy Orders (Ordination) and Matrimony (Marriage). These are all essential elements of Christian faith that were established by Jesus himself. Through these rituals we are able to experience a deeper connection with God and receive His grace. By participating in these sacred ceremonies we can become more aware of our spiritual journey and be closer to God’s love. Through these sacraments we can also gain strength from one another as members of a larger community of believers.

The Sacraments of Initiation

The three sacraments of initiation are baptism, confirmation and Eucharist. These three sacraments initiate a person into the Church and strengthen their relationship with God. Baptism is the first step in becoming a Christian, freeing us from original sin and marks our entrance into the Church. Confirmation further strengthens our faith and commitment to God. And the Eucharist allows us to taste the body and blood of eternal life, reminding us of Christ’s love and sacrifice for us.

These three sacraments are essential for deepening our relationship with God and growing in our faith. Through baptism we become members of the Church; through confirmation we strengthen our commitment to Christ; and through Eucharist we experience His presence in a tangible way. Each sacrament is an opportunity to draw closer to God, receive His grace, and be reminded of His love for each one of us. The sacraments of initiation are powerful reminders that we are never alone on this journey—God is always with us!

Priest baptizing infant in baptismal font


Baptism is the first sacrament that a person receives and it marks the beginning of one’s journey as a Catholic. It is through baptism that we are reborn as children of God and become members of the Church. People are often baptized as babies but can be baptized at any age they enter the church.  During the ceremony, the baptizes with water, either by immersion or by pouring water over the head.  Then the priests anoints them with sacred chrism oil.  The candidate wears white garments or a white stole and a candle is lit to symbolize their journey with God.

If baptized as a child, the parents select godparents to help guide the child in the Catholic faith.  If baptized as an adult, the adult chooses a sponsor to support them in their spiritual journey.

As a cradle Catholic, I was baptized as a child and baptized my own son as a child.  It was a very beautiful celebration.  A few years ago, my daughter in law came into the church and asked me to be her sponsor.  She came into the church during a very beautiful Easter vigil service in the middle of the pandemic.

I loved being a part of her faith journey but I also loved that hard things in life did not keep us from growing closer to God. Her baptism was a joyous event!

Priest holding up the eucharist at mass


Holy Communion (or Eucharist) is the sacrament in which we receive the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. It is through this sacrament that we are nourished spiritually and brought closer to God.

The Eucharist is the most sacred sacrament of the Catholic Church, in which Christ himself is present, and we receive the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. It is a memorial of his death and resurrection, and it symbolizes and brings about the unity of all believers in God. Through participation in this sacrament, individuals are able to enter fully into the heart of Christian faith.

As children reach the age of reason, usually around seven years old, they are invited to celebrate the Eucharist as part of their initiation into the Christian community. This further extends their baptismal initiation by allowing them to participate fully in the life of faith through this sacrament. The Eucharistic Sacrifice is also seen as the summit and source of all Christian life and worship, as it perpetuates the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross throughout history.

I remember my first Holy Communion like it was yesterday. My mom helped me to pick out the perfect dress, and I felt like a princess. I was so excited to receive Jesus for the first time, it was a very special and emotional moment for me.

To receive Communion, one must be in a state of grace and have gone to confession. The symbolism and ritual associated with Communion include the use of bread and wine, which are transformed into the Body and Blood of Jesus during the Mass.


During Confirmation we receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit. It marks the continuation of our journey with God and the Church. It is a very special ceremony as the bishop comes to the local church to lay hands on the candidate, anoint them with the chrism oil and seal them with gift of the Holy Spirit.

The timing of this sacrament depends on when the individual is baptized.  In the United States, a child is typically baptized as an infant, then receives the Eucharist and sacrament of Reconciliation.  The sacrament of Confirmation is reserved for when the child makes their own conscious choice to follow God, it cements the faith the parents took on their behalf during baptism.

My confirmation was a special time!  I picked a beautiful confirmation name, in honor of my favorite saint, St Therese.  My mother made me a pretty dress and I wore heels for the first time!  I was nervous to go in front of the bishop, but I felt a sense of peace wash over me as he anointed my head with oil.

The Sacraments of Healing

Confessionals in an old church


Reconciliation (also known as confession) is a powerful sacrament for healing and restoring relationships. It is a way to confess our sins and ask for forgiveness from God. Through this process, we can heal broken relationships, forgive ourselves and others, and open up communication between ourselves and God.

Confession takes place in the confessional or reconciliation room.  Depending on your preference you can have complete anonymity behind a curtain or partition, or you can sit across from the priest in a small reconciliation room.  In either case, your confession is completely confidential.  

Upon reflection of your sins, both for the things you’ve done and the things you’ve failed to do, you ask for forgiveness.  The priest hears your confession, offers words of wisdom and then gives you a penance – something to do or pray as a response to God’s mercy.  You say an Act of Contrition prayer and the priest absolves you from you sins in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Many Catholics avoid the sacrament of reconciliation instead of embracing it.  It really is meant to be a place of healing not a place of judgment and punishment.  Going to confession allows us to lay down the burdens of guilt and shame that come with sin and to experience the mercy and love of a God that forgives, loves and wants to heal us.

“Each time we go to confession, God embraces us. God rejoices!” ~ Pope Francis (General Audience Feb. 2014).

Anointing the Sick

The Sacrament of Anointing the Sick, also known as the Last Rites, is a ritual of healing for not only those close to death, but also for those who are seriously ill, either physically or mentally.   Through this sacrament the sick are comforted and strengthened in their faith.

The priest anoints the forehead and hands of the person with chrism oil while reciting a special blessing. This blessing is meant to strengthen and connect the sick person to God in both mind and body.

The Bible speaks of this sacrament in James 5:14, which reads “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.” This verse shows us that Anointing of the Sick has been practiced since ancient times as a way to bring comfort and healing to those who are suffering from physical ailments. It also serves as a reminder that we are never alone in our struggles, but rather have God’s love and support always available to us through prayer and faith.

The Sacraments of Service

The Sacraments of Service are two of the most important sacraments in the Catholic Church. Through marriage and holy orders, couples and clergy members make a commitment to serve and build up the church community. Marriage is a sacrament that unites two people in love and fidelity, while holy orders is a sacrament that ordains men to serve as priests or deacons.

Both sacraments, Marriage and Holy Orders, are considered permanent and the individuals who receive them are committed to live the life of those sacraments for the rest of their lives.

Wedding couple at Catholic mass


The sacrament of marriage in the Catholic church is much more than two people coming together in love.  It’s about them making a covenant to each other before God. 

The Church has a long and rich tradition of teaching on the sacrament of marriage and its covenantal union. In the Old Testament, God makes a covenant with His chosen people, promising them that He will never forsake them.

This is mirrored in the New Testament where Jesus is seen as the new covenant and His relationship with the Church is compared to that of a husband and wife. The matrimonial covenant between two people establishes a partnership for life which is ordered towards their own good, as well as being open to children and raising them in the Catholic faith.

Catholic marriages are celebrated in the church, often during mass, and the marriage ceremony is performed by a priest or deacon.

Marriage can be difficult at times, but it can also bring great joy when both partners are willing to work together for their mutual benefit. Through prayer and dedication to one another, couples can experience true happiness in their marriage as they strive to live out God’s plan for them.

Holy Orders

Holy Orders is the sacrament through which a man is ordained as a bishop, priest, or deacon. These ordained men are set apart to serve the Church and to administer the sacraments. Through the sacrament of Holy Orders, the ordained person is given the grace to carry out his duties as a minister of the Church. It is through this sacrament that bishops, priests and deacons are ordained and receive the power and grace to perform their sacred duties.

The sacred rite by which orders are conferred is called ordination. The apostles were ordained by Jesus at the Last Supper so that others could share in his priesthood.

Living Out the Sacraments

The seven sacraments of the Catholic church are a means of grace, through which individuals can experience the love and salvation of God. They are not a one-time event but a lifelong journey. The faithful are called to continue to participate in the sacraments and to continue to receive the grace it confers.

The sacraments are powerful moments in one’s spiritual journey as we encounter the transformative power of Christ’s sacrifice. However, it is important to note that growing in faith is not limited to receiving sacraments alone. Daily prayer and devotion also play a crucial role in one’s spiritual growth. To assist in this practice, Catholics often use tools such as a rosary, Bible, prayer journal, and crucifix as a means of focusing their thoughts and intentions on God.

Frequently Asked Questions on the Sacraments

What is the sacramental life of the Catholic Church? The sacramental life of the Catholic Church refers to the celebration and experience of the seven sacraments that the Church recognizes as outward signs of God’s grace. These sacraments are considered to be moments in which the faithful encounter and receive the grace of God in a tangible and visible way. The sacraments are not only momentary events but also a way of living, the faithful are called to live the life of the sacrament received and to continue to receive the grace it confers.

What is the main message of the sacraments to all Catholics? The main message of the sacraments of the Catholic church is that God is present and active in the world and in their lives, and that through the sacraments, the faithful can encounter and receive the grace of God in a tangible and visible way. The sacraments are considered to be a means of grace, that is, an experience of God’s love, mercy and forgiveness.  The sacraments are also a way of living out the faith and to be a witness of it. They are not only events but also a way of living the life of the sacrament received

Why is it important to participate in the sacramental life of the church? The sacraments are considered to be a means of grace, that is, an experience of God’s love, mercy, and forgiveness. Through the sacraments, Catholics can receive the grace of God in a tangible and visible way, and this grace helps them to grow in their faith and to live a life of holiness. The sacraments are a way of participating in the life of the Church and being in communion with other believers. They are a sign of the unity of the Church and a way of expressing one’s faith and commitment to the community of believers.

What is the sacrament of eternal life? The sacrament of eternal life refers to the sacrament of the Eucharist, also known as Holy Communion. The Catholic Church teaches that the Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life, as it is through this sacrament that the faithful encounter and receive the real Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, who is the source of eternal life.

Grace sign in block letters in gold and browns symbolizing the grace of the sacraments of the catholic church

Final Thoughts on the Sacraments of the Catholic Church

The sacraments of the Catholic Church are powerful and meaningful ways to bring us even closer to God and strengthen our faith. From baptism, which marks the beginning of our journey as Catholics, to the Eucharist, which allows us to taste the body and blood of eternal life, each sacrament is an opportunity to receive God’s grace and be reminded of His love for us. Each sacrament is a reminder that we are never alone on this spiritual journey, and that God is always with us.