Saint Brigid Religious Education
100 Mayflower Street
West Hartford, CT 06110

The Seven Sacraments

The Latin word sacramentum means "a sign of the sacred." The seven Sacraments, Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Communion, Confession, Marriage, Holy Orders, and the Anointing of the Sick, are the life of the Catholic Church. Each Sacrament is an outward sign of an inward grace. When we participate in them, each provides us with graces, with the life of God in our soul. In the Sacraments, God gives us the graces necessary to live a truly human life.

The Sacraments are ceremonies that point to what is sacred, significant and important for Christians. They are special occasions for experiencing God's saving presence. That's what theologians mean when they say that Sacraments are at the same time signs and instruments of God's grace. Learning more about the Sacraments can help you to celebrate them more fully.

 

Baptism

For Catholics, the Sacrament of Baptism is the first step in a lifelong journey of commitment and discipleship. Whether we are baptized as infants or adults, Baptism is the Church's way of celebrating and enacting the embrace of God. It is the first of the seven Sacraments not only in time (since most Catholics receive it as infants) but in priority, since the reception of the other Sacraments depends on it. It is the first of the three Sacraments of Initiation, the other two being the Sacrament of Holy Communion and the Sacrament of Confirmation.

Once Baptized, a person becomes a member of the Church. Baptism is the sacrament that frees man from original sin, and also makes you a member of Christ and His Church. It is the door to a new and supernatural life and gives sanctifying grace. That grace prepares us for the reception of the other Sacraments and helps us to live our lives as Christians. This sacrament has been in the Church since the beginning of Christian tradition. The symbol for Baptism is water.

Penance, Confession or Reconciliation

The Sacrament of Reconciliation (also known as Penance, or Confession) has three elements: conversion, confession and celebration. When we sin, we deprive ourselves of God’s grace. And by doing so, we make it even easier to sin more. The only way out of this downward cycle is to acknowledge our sins, to be sorry for them, and to ask God’s forgiveness. Reconciling with God is a great source of grace and the grace we receive can restore our souls and we can once again resist sin.

The institution of Confession occurred on Easter Sunday, when Christ first appeared to the apostles after his Resurrection. Breathing on them, he said: “Receive the Holy Spirit. For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained” (John 20:22-23). Catholics are encouraged to take advantage of this Sacrament often. In Reconciliation we find God's unconditional forgiveness, and as a result we are called to forgive others. If the Church is to completely fulfill her task of saving mankind she needs the power to forgive sins. The person is asked to sin no more and turn in faith to Christ. The sign for Penance is Forgiveness.

Eucharist or Holy Communion

As Catholics we believe the Holy Eucharist, or Communion, is both a sacrifice and a meal. We believe in the real presence of Jesus, who died for our sins. As we receive Christ's Body and Blood, we are also nourished spiritually and brought closer to God. The Eucharistic meal can only be prepared in the sacrifice of the Mass.

The Sacrament of Holy Communion is one of the three Sacraments of Initiation. The Church urges us to receive Communion frequently (even daily, if possible). It is called a Sacrament of Initiation because, like Baptism and Confirmation, it brings us into the fullness of our life in Christ.

In Holy Communion, we are eating the True Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, without which "you shall not have life in you" (John 6:53). Spiritually, our souls become more united to Christ, both through the graces we receive and through the change in our actions that those graces effect. Receiving Communion frequently increases our love for God and for our neighbor, which expresses itself in action, which makes us more like Christ. By receiving Christ's Body and Blood, our own bodies are sanctified, and we grow in our likeness to Christ. The symbol for The Eucharist is the water, wine and bread.

Confirmation

Confirmation is a Sacrament of mature Christian commitment and a deepening of Baptismal gifts. Like Baptism and Eucharist, it is a Sacrament of Initiation for Catholics and a Sacrament of faith in God's fidelity to us. By the Sacrament of Confirmation, we are more perfectly bound to the Church and are enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit. The graces we receive are the same that were granted to the Apostles on Pentecost. So we are, as true witnesses of Christ, obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed.

The Sacrament of Confirmation completes the Sacrament of Baptism. If Baptism is the Sacrament of re-birth to a new and supernatural life, Confirmation is the Sacrament of maturity and coming of age. Like Baptism, therefore, it can only be performed once, and Confirmation increases and deepens all of the graces granted at Baptism. The symbol and sign for Confirmation is the oils and the imposition of hands by the Bishop.

 

Matrimony

The Sacrament of Marriage, or Holy Matrimony, is a public sign that one gives oneself totally to this other person. It is also a public statement about God, the loving union of husband and wife speaks of family values and God's values.

Marriage was elevated by Christ Himself, in His participation in the wedding at Cana (John 2:1-11), to be one of the Seven Sacraments. A marriage between two Christians, therefore, has a supernatural element and is a Sacrament. As married Christians, Matrimony and Holy orders are the two Sacraments which not only serve the individuals but are there for the benefit of the community. The effect of the Sacrament is an increase in sanctifying grace for the spouses, and participation in the divine life of God Himself. The sign for matrimony is the vows and the rings.

 

Holy Orders

In the Sacrament of Holy Orders, or Ordination, the priest being ordained vows to lead other Catholics by bringing them the Sacraments (especially the Eucharist), by proclaiming the Gospel, and by providing other means to holiness. The supreme task which Christ had to fulfill was his priestly work of mediator between God and man. Because He was both human and divine, Christ is by nature the mediator.

There is only one Sacrament of Holy Orders, but there are three levels. The first is that which Christ Himself bestowed upon His Apostles, the episcopate. A bishop is a man who is ordained to the episcopate by another bishop. He stands in a direct, unbroken line from the Apostles, a condition known as "apostolic succession."

The second level of the Sacrament of Holy Orders is the priesthood. No bishop can minister to all of the faithful in his diocese, so priests act, in the words of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, as "co-workers of the bishops." They exercise their powers in communion with their bishop, and so they promise obedience to their bishop at the time of their ordination. The chief duties of the priesthood are the preaching of the Gospel and the offering of the Eucharist.

The third level of the Sacrament of Holy Orders is the diaconate. A deacon is no longer a layman, but a member of the clergy. The permanent diaconate was restored by the Second Vatican Council. Deacons assist priests and bishops at the altar, distribute the Eucharist as an ordinary minister, bless marriages, preside over funerals, proclaim the Gospel and preach and administers viaticum to the sick. Married men are allowed to become permanent deacons. The sign and symbol for Holy Orders is the oils and imposition of hands.

Anointing of the sick

The Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, formerly known as Last Rites or Extreme Unction, is a ritual of healing appropriate not only for physical but also for mental and spiritual sickness.

The celebration of the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick recalls the early Christian use, going back to biblical times. When Christ sent His disciples out to preach, "they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them" (Mark 6:13). It provides the recipient with a number of graces, including the fortitude to resist temptation in the face of death, a union with the Passion of Christ, which makes his suffering holy; and the grace to prepare for death, so that he or she may meet God in hope rather than in fear. If the recipient was not able to receive the Sacrament of Confession, Anointing also provides forgiveness of sins and it will aid in the salvation of his or her soul. Anointing may restore the recipient's health. Only a priest or bishop can validly administer it.  It can be received by any baptized person who is, on account of sickness or age, in danger of death. The sign for Anointing of the Sick is the oils.

News & Events ~ Closings & Vacations ~ Calendars ~ Our CCD Staff ~ Guidelines, Policies & Registration
 Protecting God's Children ~ Mission Statement & Curriculum ~ Our Church ~ Children's Mass
First Penance & First Communion ~ Confirmation ~ Birthdays! ~ Prayers ~ The Beatitudes ~ Sacraments ~ Who Is St. Brigid
The Rosary, Scapular and Medals ~ The Ten Commandments ~ The Apostles ~ List of Popes
Saints of the Liturgical Calendar ~ Holy Days of Obligation ~ Stations of The Cross ~ Contact Us ~ Home