In the coming weeks, I would like to share with you what we, Catholics, believe
about the Sacraments and the significance of each of the Sacraments.

The word Sacrament means “a sign of the sacred”, which is an outward and visible
sign from God to us. Hence, a Sacrament is a means which God uses to share His
grace and to help us achieve holiness and salvation. The purpose of the Sacraments
is to make us holy and to build up the body of Christ.

In the New Testament, we read that Christ gives clear instruction and authority to
the Apostles to baptize in the name of the Triune God, to heal the sick, to give His
body and blood to nourish our souls, to forgive the sinners. In succession to the
Apostles, the Catholic Church administers these Holy Sacraments as means for us
to become holy and to receive His salvation.

There are seven Sacraments, which were instituted by Jesus and entrusted to the
Apostles and the Church as efficacious channels of grace to all those who receive
them with the proper disposition. These seven sacraments are grouped into three
categories:

  1. Sacraments of Initiation into the Body of Christ – Baptism, Confirmation
    and the Eucharist
  2. Sacraments of Healing – Penance or Confession, Anointing of the Sick
  3. Sacraments of Service – Holy Orders (Priesthood and Diaconate) and
    Matrimony.

The efficacy of the Sacraments does not depend on the celebrant (priest or deacon)
being in the state of grace. The power of grace comes not from the celebrant, nor
the recipient but God. It is Christ, who is at work in the person of the
celebrant. The effect of the Sacrament comes by the very fact of being
administered, regardless of the personal holiness of the celebrant. Nevertheless,
the effects of the Sacrament depend on the recipient’s disposition. Hence it is
necessary that the recipient approaches and receives the Sacrament with the proper
disposition of faith. In other words, the recipient’s heart and mind must be attuned
to the words, which he/she utters and thus, cooperate with God’s grace; otherwise,
they receive in vain.

With this brief introduction, let me share each one of the Sacraments in the coming
weeks.
God bless you
Fr. Arul Joseph V.


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