About the Sacraments

The sacraments of the Catholic Church are, the Church teaches, ‘efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us. The visible rites by which the sacraments are celebrated signify and make present the graces proper to each sacrament. They bear fruit in those who receive them with the required dispositions.’

Though not every individual has to receive every sacrament, the Church affirms that, for believers as a whole, the sacraments are necessary for salvation, as the modes of grace divinely instituted by Christ Himself. Likewise, as the sole dispenser of Christ’s sacraments, the Catholic Church itself is spoken of as ‘The universal sacrament of salvation’ containing the individual seven sacraments. Through each of these sacraments, according to the Church, Christ bestows that sacrament’s particular grace, such as incorporation into Christ and the Church, forgiveness of sins, or consecration for a particular service.

The Church teaches that the effect of a sacrament comes ‘ex opere operato’, by the very fact of being administered, regardless of the personal holiness of the minister administering it. However, a recipient’s own lack of proper disposition to receive the grace conveyed can block the effectiveness of the sacrament in that person. The sacraments presuppose faith and through their words and ritual elements, nourish, strengthen and express faith.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church lists the sacraments as follows: ‘The whole liturgical life of the Church revolves around the Eucharistic sacrifice and the sacraments. There are seven sacraments in the Church: Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders, and Matrimony.’

Baptism

Confirmation

Confession / Reconciliation

Marriage

Sacrament of the Sick

Holy Communion

Holy Orders

Blessed Sacrament

Every visit to the Blessed Sacrament should include an Act of Spiritual Communion, asking Christ to come into our hearts, even when we cannot receive His Body in Holy Communion.

This Act of Love, written by Saint Francis of Assisi, is an act of spiritual communion, and it can be prayed even when we aren’t able to be physically in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.

Act of Love

I believe thou art present in the Blessed Sacrament, O Jesus.
I love thee and desire thee. Come into my heart. I embrace thee,
O never leave me.
I beseech thee, O Lord Jesus, may the burning and most sweet power of thy love absorb my mind, that I may die through love of thy love, who wast graciously pleased to die through love of my love.