What is a Sacrament?

There are seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church which are instituted by Christ for the Church: Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Eucharist, Confession, Marriage, Holy Orders and Anointing of the Sick. These sacraments aim to sanctify the Church, to lead us to the likeness of Christ and to worship God. Except for the Sacrament of Holy Orders, all other Sacraments are performed at the parish.

Sacrament of Baptism

The Sacrament of Baptism is often referred to as the entrance to the Church since upon baptism, the faithful becomes a member of the Church, the Body of Christ and starts a new journey with Christ into the path of holiness. It is the first of the three Sacraments of Initiation, which includes the Sacrament of Confirmation and the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.

The sacrament is done by a priest who baptizes the child with water with the words, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” Water represents a symbolic act in cleansing both the original and personal sins of the child and the rebirth into the new life with Christ. Then the priest anoints the child with chrism which is blessed, perfumed oil. It is sacred which symbolizes the gift of the Holy Spirit. The white garment symbolizes the purity of a child’s soul since his/her sins are already cleansed. In addition, the lighted Paschal candle symbolizes the presence of Christ and this light is passed on to the parents so that they may also pass on this light to their child.

This sacrament is necessary for one’s salvation as Christ said, “Amen, amen I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (John 3:1-21) In addition, Christ also affirmed salvation when he said, “The man who believes in it and accepts baptism will be saved.” (Mark 16:16)

Through the Sacrament of Baptism, we were incorporated into the Church, united with Christ and became adopted children of God.

Sacrament of Confirmation

The Sacrament of Confirmation is the second sacrament in the Sacraments of Initiation. Like the Sacrament of Baptism, this sacrament is only given once. It aims to strengthen and to deepen the graces given to us during baptism.

Confirmation is done by the laying of the Bishop’s hand on the head of the confirmand, the baptized person who will be confirmed. The laying of hands signifies the descent of the Holy Spirit on the confirmand. Then it is followed by the anointing of the confirmand’s forehead with chrism as the Bishop forms a cross accompanied with the words, “Be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit.” This act of anointing with chrism signifies that the confirmand is ready to profess, to spread and to defend his/her faith without any fear. Also, the seal represents the special graces given by the Holy Spirit.

This sacrament aims to increase the gifts of the Holy Spirit, to deepen our incorporation with the Church, to unite us more firmly with Christ and to strengthen us through the special graces given to us by the Holy Spirit in order for us to profess, to spread and to defend our faith through our words and actions and to be true witnesses of Christ.

Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist

The Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist is also known as the Sacrament of the Holy Communion and as the Blessed Sacrament. It is a very important sacrament since Jesus Christ, Himself, is present and is being offered to us through the representation of the Bread and Wine in the Mass. We consume not just the Bread and Wine but rather the Holy Body and the Sacred Blood of Christ which strengthens our souls.

When we receive Holy Communion, we literally receive Christ and He becomes a part of us. Likewise, we also become more united with the Church who also receives Christ. Through this Sacrament, we abide in Christ as he mentioned, “He who eats My Flesh, and drinks My Blood abides in Me, and I in him.” (John 6:56). It also gives the promise of eternal life as Christ mentioned, “Whoever eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood has eternal life and I will raise him up at the last day. He who eats this Bread will live forever” (John 6:54,58). Furthermore, the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist nourishes us with spiritual wisdom and delivers remedy to our body and soul.

Sacrament of Reconciliation

The Sacrament of Reconciliation is sometimes referred to as Sacrament of Confession and Penance. In this sacrament, we confess our sins, repent and ask for God’s forgiveness. Then, grace will be restored to our souls which will help us refrain from committing sins.

In order to receive this sacrament, we must be remorseful for the sins we have committed and must confess all the sins done. More importantly, we must be willing to repent and to avoid making these sins again.

This sacrament showcases the unconditional love and mercy of Christ who gives the sinners the chance to be forgiven, to reconcile with the Church and to have a new life with Christ.

Sacrament of Marriage

The Sacrament of Marriage is the covenant between the union of a man and a woman. It signifies the union of Christ, the Bridegroom, and of the Church, His Bride. The married couple is expected to live a partnership of love with the love that Christ has given to the Church and to raise their children in the grace of God.

Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick

The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick is also known as the Last Rites or Extreme Unction. It provides a number of graces – the grace to resist temptation, the grace to prepare him/her for a union with the Passion of Christ and the grace to prepare him/her in facing death. Moreover, through this Sacrament, Christ strengthens the faithful who are physically/mentally/spiritually sick and weak. It is a very significant manifestation of the unconditional love of God for us, Who, at our last moments, still thinks of ways to save us and to bring us to heaven, to live with Him.