What are the Sacraments of the Church?

Sacraments are outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace. Remember that! Everyone who has ever gone to Confirmation classes has had to learn that! In other words, using tangible, physical things like water, oil, bread and wine, we experience and come to know the love and grace of our God.

Baptism and Eucharist are known as the two great sacraments of the church because they were given to us by Jesus and recorded in scripture. In addition there are five other "sacramental rites" that have evolved out of the life of the church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. They are:

Confirmation – in which we make a mature commitment to Christ by the laying on of hands by a bishop.

Ordination – the rite by which God gives authority and the grace of the Spirit to those being made bishops, priests, and deacons, also by the laying on of hands by a bishop.

Holy Matrimony – Christian marriage in which two people enter into a life-long union and receive God's grace and blessing to help them in their commitment.

Reconciliation of a Penitent – a rite in which those who repent of their sins, confess them to God in the presence of a priest and receive the assurance of God's forgiveness.

Unction of the Sick – Also known as anointing with oil or the laying on of hands. Through the oil, the prayer, and the laying on of hands, God's grace is given for the healing of mind, body, and spirit.

The wonderful thing about sacraments is that believing in them and seeing God in the physical realm in these tangible ways trains us to have sacramental eyes, and to see and realize God's incarnational presence in all of creation. And so all of life becomes a bit of a treasure hunt, in which we search for and find evidence of God all around us!!!

Susan Cardone