Sacrament - Roman Catholic Teaching

Roman Catholic Teaching

The following are the seven sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church, here listed in the order given in the Catechism:

  • Baptism (Christening)
  • Confirmation (Chrismation)
  • Holy Eucharist
  • Penance (Confession)
  • Anointing of the Sick (known prior to the Second Vatican Council as Extreme Unction (or more literally from Latin: Last Anointing), then seen as part of the "Last Rites")
  • Holy Orders
  • Matrimony (Marriage)

In the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church, "the 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."

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

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. Through each of them, Christ bestows that sacrament's particular grace, such as incorporation into Christ and the Church, forgiveness of sins, or consecration for a particular service.

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