Sacraments — Overview

Sacraments are actions of Christ and of the Church. They are signs and means by which faith is expressed and strengthened. By offering worship to God, our sanctification is brought about. (Code of Canon Law, 840)

Jesus instituted the sacraments and he entrusted them to the Church.

Every sacrament has its own matter and form which make up the ceremony. Matter refers to what is used as the sign, e.g., bread and wine in The Eucharist. Form refers to the words used, e.g., "I absolve you from your sins" in Reconciliation.

Each sacrament gives us Sanctifying Grace, which is an increase of Faith, Hope and Charity - these are traditionally known as the Theological Virtues. Sanctifying Grace is first received at Baptism where Original Sin is washed away and we are made adopted sons and daughters of God, like Jesus, and we become members of the Catholic Church. Only serious sin can remove Sanctifying Grace from our souls and this can be restored again to us through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Catholics try to receive the sacraments as often as possible because they have the ability to sanctify and strengthen us. When we receive the sacraments and live in the state of grace, we become more like Christ on earth.


The names of the seven sacraments, which Jesus left us, are as follows:

  • Baptism
  • Eucharist
  • Confirmation
  • Reconciliation
  • Anointing of the Sick
  • Holy Matrimony
  • Holy Orders
Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit, and the door which gives access to the other sacraments.

MATTER - Water (Immersion, Infusion, or Sprinkling) FORM - "I baptize you in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

Read More
Jesus instituted the Holy Eucharist at the Passover meal the day before He died (refer to Lk 22:14-20). This He did in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the ages until He should come again.

MATTER - Unleavened Bread and Grape Wine. FORM - "This My Body which will be given up for you. Do this in memory of Me … Take this, all of you, and drink from it: this is the cup of my Blood, the Blood of the New and Everlasting Covenant. It will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven. Do this in memory of me."

Read More
The Sacrament of Confirmation is the second of the Sacraments of Initiation. In the Latin rite of the Church, Confirmation is received after reaching the age of reason when a person is able to renew their Baptismal Vows in order to illustrate that Confirmation is a completion of our Baptism.

MATTER - Holy Chrism (Blessed Oil) and the Laying on of Hands by the Bishop or delegated priest. FORM - Bishop or designated priest: "Be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit."

Read More
This is the sacrament of the healing mercy of Christ through His minister, the priest, for sins committed after Baptism.

MATTER - Sins; Contrition and confession; priestly words of absolution. FORM - Priest says: "God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church, may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

Read More
This sacrament is conferred upon those who because of illness or old age are in danger of death. Jesus instituted this sacrament by giving example through the many healings He performed.

MATTER - Anointing with Holy Oil and Imposition of Hands. FORM - Prayer of the Priest over the sick person for the grace of the Holy Spirit and the forgiveness of sins.

Read More
When two people come forward to be married by a Catholic priest, they do so in the Parish Church of either the husband or wife. In this way, there is continuity in their sacramental life as well as the witness of belonging to a particular Catholic community that has assisted them in their spiritual growth throughout the years.

MATTER - Mutual Consent and Covenant to live together as husband and wife; and the consummation of the Marriage. FORM - The "I do", by which both spouses indicate their mutual consent to the marriage covenant.

Read More
This sacrament configures the recipient to Christ by a special grace of the Holy Spirit, so that he may serve as Christ's instrument for his Church.

MATTER- Laying on of the Bishop's hands with the consecratory prayer. FORM - The Bishop's "specific consecratory prayer asking God for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and his gifts proper to the ministry to which the candidate is being ordained."

Read More