The Catechism of the Catholic Church summarizes the Church’s understanding of the sacraments:
Sacraments are “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.” (CCC 1131)
God’s revelation in the created order is fulfilled in the person of Christ, who walked the earth, teaching and healing and nourishing the people he encountered. His death on the cross sealed a new and everlasting covenant between God and his people. To make his grace and presence known through the ages following his return to heaven, Christ entrusted the Church with the mission of preaching and teaching and sanctifying as he told his disciples “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Mt 28:19) Thus, in the sacraments, all men and women through all times and places are invited to encounter the living Christ who is truly present in these celebrations.
The Catholic Church recognizes seven key celebrations of God’s grace, starting with the sacraments of initiation: Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist. Through these sacraments, Catholics are visibly joined to the Mystical Body of Christ in the Church. Through the sacraments of healing, Reconciliation and the Anointing of the Sick, the healing power of Christ flows through the ministry of the Church. Through the sacraments of vocation, Holy Orders and Marriage, one is set aside and empowered by grace for Christian ministry in the family of the Church and in domestic families.
The following pages explain each of the sacraments of the Church and describe how they are celebrated in the life of our parish.