BASICS OF CATHOLICISM: 23. SACRAMENTS: PART 4: THE SEVEN SACRAMENTS
Feb 12, 2020
Having established definitions of the words “sacrament” and “liturgy,” and given our consideration of worship as acknowledging and humbly submitting ourselves to God as is proper to our partaking of the sacraments, we now give an overview of the seven sacraments and the general effects to be considered for each sacrament – ahead of looking at all the sacraments individually – so that we might see how each sacrament is given by God to draw us toward a perfect relationship of love and communion with Him in Heaven.
Abiding in the groupings as found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, while still following the outline of The New Saint Joseph Baltimore Catechism, we will cover the sacraments in the following order: First we will look at the three “sacraments of initiation” in their traditional order of baptism, confirmation, and the eucharist. Next, we will move into the “sacraments of healing,” with consideration of penance and anointing of the sick. Lastly, we will cover the “sacraments of service” which are holy orders and matrimony.
As we cover the sacraments of initiation, we will look at how through these sacraments we are gifted with God’s life unto perfect communion with Him. Minding that baptism is always the first sacrament received, that enables us to partake of the other sacraments, we will look at how baptism brings us into relationship with God as his dear children through the forgiveness of original sin; how confirmation gives increase to this relationship through the gifts of the Holy Spirit coming to dwell fully within; and how the eucharist is the pinnacle of our initiation, gifting us with holy communion in the Trinity, sustaining us and strengthening this communion within us throughout this life.
Aware that our lives beset by weaknesses and that we remain susceptible to committing sins, we next will cover the sacraments of healing that are restorative by their nature and which provide God’s help to remain strong in His communion. Thus, we will cover the sacrament of penance minding again the restoration of relationship given through His forgiveness of our sins along with help He offers to us against the near occasion of sin. Anointing of the sick will be treated likewise as a means of forgiveness and also a source of God’s life within us to aid us in bearing our share of sufferings that come in serious illness.
Finally, minding again that baptism is the first sacrament that establishes a relationship of love and communion with God, we will move the sacraments of service as God’s gifts to us that build up His Church and her members. Holy orders will be taken up minding of how Jesus Christ established a Church and a priesthood to guard and administer His saving gifts, drawing many more into communion with Him. Similarly, we will look at matrimony as God joining man and woman in the natural relationship of marriage as has existed from the beginning with the grace to grow in more perfect union with God and one another in their consent and in the sharing in His creative work of bringing new members into the world both through their natural relating to one another and in their handing on the faith within the home as the first teachers of children in the faith.
Thus it is that we will begin our look at each sacrament – minding once more that the end goal is to be in eternal communion with the Trinity in heaven.
For further reading: In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 1210-1211 give brief introduction to the treatment of each of the seven sacraments, with paragraph 1212, 1420-1421, and 1533-1535 describing each of the three groups of sacraments.