The Seven Sacraments
Listing of Sacraments
For anyone who grew up wearing a Catholic school uniform, today’s lesson on the seven sacraments will definitely bring back some memories. For those who didn’t, it’ll be a brief introduction to these seven religious ceremonies, which the Catholic faith regards as a visible sign of the divine. In simpler terms, they’re things Catholics believe will help one experience God’s presence in their lives.
Since there are seven of these sacraments, those of us who didn’t grow up wearing plaid skirts and thin ties to school might have a hard time remembering the content of today’s lesson. For this reason, we’re going to use a slightly lame and not at all scholarly mnemonic – Beliefs Every Real Catholic Must Have Amassed – as a memory aid.
Keeping this in mind, here are the seven. They are Baptism, Eucharist, Reconciliation, Confirmation, Marriage, Holy Orders, and Anointing the Sick. With the seven now named, we’ll start with Baptism.
Baptism & Eucharist
Often seen as the first act of a lifetime commitment to the faith, baptism is often carried out by having the sign of the cross traced on one’s forehead, then being either sprinkled or immersed in water. To a Catholic, this symbolizes that Jesus has washed away sin. Sometimes experienced as a child and sometimes experienced as an adult, Baptism is usually necessary for becoming a member of the Catholic Church.
Next in our list of Beliefs Every Real Catholic Must Have Amassed is the Eucharist. The Eucharist is the Catholic commemoration, almost reenactment, of the Last Supper, the final meal Jesus had with His disciples before he died. At this meal, Jesus instructed His disciples to remember His death by eating bread, which symbolized His body, and drinking wine, which symbolized His blood. The Catholic Church believes that when partaking of this sacrament, the bread and the wine of today actually become the body and blood of Jesus through what is called transubstantiation.
Reconciliation & Confirmation
Our next sacrament is that of reconciliation. Also known as confession or penance, reconciliation celebrates God’s willingness to forgive sin and to bring the confessor back into the community of faith. In order for a person to receive this full reconciliation, most Catholic Churches believe a person must truly be contrite or sorry, they must name all their sins openly, and they must be willing to do what is known as penance, a sort of self-inflicted or voluntary punishment for sin.
Next on our list is confirmation. Very familiar to anyone who sat through its classes as a child, confirmation, in very simple terms, is training and maturing in the Catholic faith. Often requiring a person to take classes on Church history and Church doctrine, confirmation can be remembered as the confirming of a person’s place within the Church. With this, Catholics also believe that they are sort of sealed with the Holy Spirit and His many gifts at this time.
Marriage & Holy Orders
Bringing back our little ditty, Beliefs Every Real Catholic Must Have Amassed, the next sacrament is marriage. Being a pretty easy one to remember, this sacrament is simply one’s willingness to dedicate oneself to another in matrimony. Seen as a symbol for God’s love and the human commitment to Him, marriage is held in high regard within the Catholic Church.
Holy Orders is the next in our line. Often referred to as ordination, the Holy Orders usually consist of the position of bishop, priest, and deacon within the Catholic Church. With the sacrament of Holy Orders, the Catholic clergy vow to lead others into a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. They also vow to supply the Eucharist for the lay members, or non-ordained members of the Church community.
Anointing of the Sick
With this, we come to our last sacrament, the Anointing of the Sick, which has often been referred to as Last Rites, since it’s often administered near the time of death. However, the Anointing of the Sick is a practice of healing for those who are not just physically sick, but for those who are also suffering both emotionally and spiritually. Often performed in conjunction with the sacraments of confession and Eucharist, the Anointing of the Sick is carried out by an ordained member of the Church by placing his hands on the person who is ill. As the name implies, the sick person is also anointed with oil and prayed for.
The seven sacraments are the main religious ceremonies, which the Catholic faith regards as an outward and visible sign of things which are spiritually divine. More plainly stated, they’re the seven rituals Catholics believe will help one experience God’s presence in their lives.
Using the mnemonic Beliefs Every Real Catholic Must Have Amassed, the seven sacraments are as follows:
There’s baptism, which is often carried out by being either sprinkled or immersed in water. This symbolizes that Jesus has washed away sin.
Next is the Eucharist. This is the commemoration of the Last Supper in which Jesus instructed His disciples to remember His death by eating bread, which symbolized His body, and drinking wine, which symbolized His blood. The Catholic Church believes the bread and the wine of today actually become the body and blood of Jesus through what is called transubstantiation.
There is also reconciliation. Accomplished through true sorrow, confession, and penance, reconciliation symbolizes God’s willingness to forgive sin.
Confirmation is training and maturing in the Catholic faith. Often accompanied by taking formal classes, the ceremony of confirmation confirms a person’s place in the Church and the Holy Spirit’s presence in a person’s life.
There is also marriage and Holy Orders. Marriage, being very easy to remember, is simply one person committing to another in the bonds of matrimony. Holy Orders is the ordination of a bishop, priest, or deacon within the Catholic Church. It is their vow to help lead the lay, non-ordained members of the Church in the faith.
Very closely linked to Holy Orders, the Anointing of the Sick is a ceremony in which an ordained member of the church will lay hands on the sick, pray for them, offer the Eucharist, confession, and the anointing of oil.