Sacraments are conserving graces from heaven. They are the symbolic acts or visible indications, arising from the ministry of Jesus Christ and continued in, by and for the Church Jesus Christ established. When gotten in faith, the sacraments style the faithful into the image and likeness of Jesus Christ, the Boy of one of the most High, in the latter’s Paschal Mystery. The Paschal Mystery refers to the enthusiasm, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Baush, 1983; Cooke, 1994; Schillebeeckx, 1963).
The seven sacrament of the Catholic Church are clustered by way of determining them as the sacraments of initiation, sacrament of recovery and sacraments of vocation and ministry.
Baptism is the sacrament of faith. Confirmation is the sacrament in which, through the power of the Holy Spirit, a baptized person is drawn into a more detailed union with the Catholic Church and endowed with strength to actively spread out the great news of salvation. Both the celebration of the matrimonial rite and the couple’s married life and love are a sacrament of Jesus Christ’s love for His people.
The Sacrament of the Eucharist becomes a meal of communion. It is an indication of unity and bond of charity (Baush, 1983; Cooke, 1994; Schillebeeckx, 1963).
The sacrament of penance or reconciliation obtains for the faithful the pardon kind God the Daddy for the sins he dedicated after baptism and for which they are really repentant. The sacrament of anointing of the ill provides the ill with the healing grace of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit (Baush, 1983; Cooke, 1994; Schillebeeckx, 1963).
Holy Order is the sacrament of apostolic ministry through which the objective entrusted by Christ to his apostles continues to be worked out in the Catholic Church until completion of time. The Fashioning the faithful into the Christ– like image is attained through the grace of the Third Individual of the Holy Trinity, who is the Holy Spirit (Baush, 1983; Cooke, 1994; Schillebeeckx, 1963).
The Sacraments as signs of faith
Today the seven sacraments are viewed as grounded directly in both Jesus Christ and the Church, who is the Primordial Sacrament, and the Church which is the Fundamental Sacrament respectively. They presuppose and strengthen the faith of the believers. Finally, it draws itself closer to the daily lives of the faithful (Baush, 1983; Cooke, 1994; Schillebeeckx, 1963).
The purpose of the sacrament is to sanctify all men, to build up the Body of Christ and to give worship to the God the Father who art in heaven. The seven sacraments of the Catholic Church are signs that we, the faithful are also instructed by them.
They are more than just presuppositions of faith, rather, they are also by words and objects become sources of nourishment, strength and expression. While they do confer grace, the very act of performing the sacraments most effectively disposes the faithful to receive grace to their advantage, be able to worship God the Father and also, to practice the act of charity (Baush, 1983; Cooke, 1994; Schillebeeckx, 1963).
The Sacraments as signs of worship
The Son of the Most High, Jesus Christ was the one who instituted the seven sacraments. He did so by initially being the sacrament of God the Father through His own flesh and blood and eventually establishing the Church he founded to be His basic sacrament (Baush, 1983; Cooke, 1994; Schillebeeckx, 1963).
The institution of the seven sacraments by Jesus Christ expresses the essential link between them. Sadly, over the years, this link began to reduce to the claim of Jesus Christ being the one who started it all. The precision and the reason why He did s and how the sacraments were continued to be administered by the Church until today were lost in the blinding horizon (Baush, 1983; Cooke, 1994; Schillebeeckx, 1963).
It is the Church which makes Jesus Christ present to all the faithful of all ages by being his Body, primarily and then by celebrating those actions that continue His own ministry. Certainly, the Catholic Church has a major role to play in the gradual development of the seven sacraments we have today. Nevertheless, each and every sacrament administered by the Church undeniably re – enacts specific acts of the public ministry of Jesus Christ (Baush, 1983; Cooke, 1994; Schillebeeckx, 1963; Webber, 2003).
Jesus Christ, being the primordial sacrament is much more than simply the originator of them. He is at once the source, the primary agent and the goal of all of the sacramental activities performed in the practice of the Catholic faith (Baush, 1983; Cooke, 1994; Schillebeeckx, 1963).
Effects of the Sacraments
The key elements in any sacramental celebration for that matter is the efficacious signs of grace, in which the faithful encounters God the Father as adopted children, through His only begotten son, Jesus Christ our Savior and the Church. The Seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church are certainly sacraments of Jesus Christ, the Catholic Church, our faith, salvation and the life eternal (Baush, 1983; Cooke, 1994; Schillebeeckx, 1963; Webber, 2003).
They are sacraments of Christ because He is the origin and the continuing presence of them. They are also the sacraments of the Catholic Church as they are by and for the Church, essentially. They are sacraments of our faith as it is our faith which demands and constitutes ongoing expressions of faith. They are sacraments of salvation as they are the efficacious and necessary means of salvation. Lastly, they are sacraments of life eternal because it is the ultimate goal every believer is headed to achieve (Baush, 1983; Cooke, 1994; Schillebeeckx, 1963; Webber, 2003).
There are two – fold effects of the seven sacraments. It draws the faithful into a closer relationship to the Church, which results to a relationship with Jesus Christ himself, God the Father as well as the Holy Spirit. This may be achieved by fully, consciously and actively celebrating them as it allows us to exercise our powers in all possible aspects – heart, mind, will, imagination, affection and behavior (Baush, 1983; Cooke, 1994; Schillebeeckx, 1963; Webber, 2003).
However, it must be remembered that the sacraments can affect this only if it were celebrated in faith. For without it, there can neither have saving personal relationship that is possibly established nor strengthened (Baush, 1983; Cooke, 1994; Schillebeeckx, 1963; Webber, 2003).
The sacraments of initiation free the faithful from the power of the darkness by being baptized into Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection. The faithful receives the Holy Spirit who makes them adopted children of God the Father. They incorporate them into the people of God, Church. They allow them to celebrate the Eucharistic memorial of the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God (Baush, 1983; Cooke, 1994; Schillebeeckx, 1963).
The Sacraments as signs of the Church’s unity
A sacrament is a material sign which gives grace, affecting what it symbolizes. It causes grace by symbolizing peace. Jesus Christ is the visible sign or the sacrament of God the Father. The same is true with the Catholic Church, with her visible, institutional structure, is for the faithful the sacrament of Jesus Christ, representing Him and making Him present (Baush, 1983; Cooke, 1994; Schillebeeckx, 1963; Webber, 2003).
The sacraments of initiation are baptism, confirmation and Eucharist. The sacrament of baptism unites the faithful in Jesus Christ as well as with the other members of the Church. It incorporates the faithful into the Christian community and to the body of Jesus Christ, the Church.
The sacrament of confession relates to Jesus Christ and the Church because the spirit of Jesus Christ is met in His body, the confirmed church, inaugurated at Pentecost. The sacrament of the Eucharist is affected by the power of the Holy Spirit, celebrated by Jesus Christ and the Catholic community which is the Church. It forms the center of the Catholic prayer and worship and constitutes the crown of the sacraments of initiation (Baush, 1983; Cooke, 1994; Schillebeeckx, 1963).
The sacraments of vocation and ministry are marriage and holy orders. In the sacrament of marriage, the church is the foundational sacrament. It makes Jesus Christ present through the matrimonial rites. The sacrament of holy orders, like the sacrament of marriage helps toward the salvation precisely by releasing the recipient to the service of others. Thus, the faithful confer a particular mission of the Catholic Church and help in building up the people of God (Baush, 1983; Cooke, 1994; Schillebeeckx, 1963).
The sacraments of healing are reconciliation or penance and anointing of the sick. In the sacrament of reconciliation or penance, the Catholic Church not only calls sinners to repentance, but also intercedes for them and helps them towards ongoing conversion. By doing so, the Catholic Church proclaims her faith in the victory of Jesus Christ over the sin of the world.
It gives thanks to God the Father for the freedom He has won for the salvation of the faithful. Moreover, it offers her life as a spiritual sacrifice in praise of God the Father. The Holy Spirit in the sacrament of anointing of the sick brings God the Father’s healing love and forgiveness. This is made possible by the aid of the sacramental ministry of the Catholic Church. It restores and strengthens the baptismal grace of the faithful. Also, it gives way to form a communion with one another in the Eucharist (Baush, 1983; Cooke, 1994; Schillebeeckx, 1963).
The Sacraments as signs of Christ’s presence
As Jesus Christ was shown as the Baptized One, it is quite obvious that he is also the Confirmed One in the Holy Spirit. From His conception, through His redemptive mission of His public ministry, climaxing in His Resurrection and Ascension to heaven, Jesus Christ is constantly guided, strengthened and led by the Holy Spirit (Schillebeeckx, 1963).
It is the Holy Spirit of holiness who makes present the All – Holy One. It is the Holy Spirit of love who enables the faithful to love the way He did. It is the Holy Spirit of life who came into the world that the faithful might be able to experience the life of abundance. It is the Holy Spirit of power who fulfills the Father’s will and enables the faithful to follow the path he has taken. It is the Holy Spirit of truth who sets the faithful free. And it is the Holy Spirit of forgiveness who brings eternal salvation to those who asks for forgiveness from the sins he has committed (Baush, 1983; Cooke, 1994; Schillebeeckx, 1963).
The faithful must meet the Spirit of the Lord in his Body and in the Church He founded. The Catholic Church is the Confirmed Church primarily because the real presence of Jesus Christ is felt here. From the Church’s inception, the Holy Spirit has already been present. This truth is authenticated by the Pentecost. The presence of the Holy Spirit in the sacraments explicitly displays what God the Father has and continues to do for the good of those who believe in Him (Baush, 1983; Cooke, 1994; Schillebeeckx, 1963; Webber, 2003).
Bausch, W.J. (1983). A New Look at the Sacraments. New London: Twenty – Third Publications.
Cooke, B.J. (1994). Sacraments & Sacramentality. New London: Twenty – Third Publications.
Schillebeeckx, E. (1963). Christ the Sacrament of the Encounter With God. Lanham: Rowan & :Littlefield.
Webber, F.R. (2003). Church Symbolism. Whitefish: Kessinger Publishing.