The Sacraments

A Catholic sacrament is a sensible (detectable by the human senses) sign, instituted by Rabbi Yeshua during his visit with us in earthly life, through which sanctifying grace and actual grace are communicated from Rabbi Yeshua to an individual human soul.

Introduction to the Sacraments


Sacrament comes from the Latin sacramentum, oath or solemn obligation, which in turn comes from the Latin sacrare, to set apart. Its Latin root, sacer, sacred or holy, also gives us the word consecrate, the act of setting a person, place or thing apart for God.


A sacrament is also God’s oath to us. Rabbi Yeshua promised, “I am with you always, to the close of the age” Mt 28:20. In the Vatican, on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, is Michelangelo’s celebrated painting of God reaching out to man. The Catholic Church has all of the seven sacraments that Christ left us in the deposit of faith.

In Hebrew, an oath is shevah or nishevah (seven). In Hebrew, when we say, “I swear under oath,” we are saying, “I seven myself.”

Robert Bolt, in his preface to A Man for All Seasons, explains the oath’s place in our lives:

Why do I take as my hero a man who brings about his own death because he can’t put his hand on an old black book and tell an ordinary lie? For this reason: A man takes an oath only when he wants to commit himself quite exceptionally to the statement, when he wants to make an identity between the truth of it and his own virtue; he offers himself as a guarantee. And it works. There is a special kind of shrug for a perjurer; we feel that the man has no self to commit, no guarantee to offer.

During A Man for All Seasons, as in English history, King Henry VIII insisted that More swear the “oath of supremacy” declaring that the English monarchy, not the pope, was the supreme governor of the Church of England. More refused, knowing that the penalty was death. His own family begged him to sign. More, however, replied to his daughter, “When a man takes an oath, Meg, he’s holding his own self in his own hands. Like water (cups his hands). And if he opens his fingers then—he needn’t hope to find himself again.”

Sacraments of the Living and the Dead.

Our souls are alive only while in God’s friendship. The living are souls alive in the state of grace. The dead are souls that have refused God’s friendship and therefore in the state of mortal sin.

Sacraments of the living require the state of grace to be received fruitfully:

The Holy Eucharist
Holy Orders
Anointing of the Sick and Dying

(Anointing of the Sick and Dying is generally regarded as a sacrament of the living because it should be received in a state of grace, but in some situations it operates as a sacrament of the dead.)

Sacraments of the dead confer or restore sanctifying grace and so can be fruitfully received even when we are in a state of mortal sin. They are able to resuscitate dead souls, restoring them to life:

Penance and Reconciliation

Matter and Form

Every sacrament has matter and form.

The matter is used to perform the rite, e.g., water in Baptism, chrism in Confirmation, bread and wine in Holy Eucharist, or the penitent’s valid confession in Penance.

The form is what the priest does with the matter to invoke the sacrament, e.g., Eucharistic Prayer over the bread and wine, or prayer of absolution in Penance.


Matter Water

Form Priest or deacon pours or sprinkles water on the person and says, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”


Matter Chrism

Form Bishop or priest traces a cross on the person’s forehead with chrism and says, “Name, be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Holy Eucharist

Matter Bread and Wine

Form Priest’s words of institution. “This is my Body …” and “This is my Blood …”


Matter Penitent’s contrition, confession, and willingness to make satisfaction.

Form Priest’s prayer of absolution. “God the Father of Mercies, through the death and resurrection of His Son, has reconciled the world to Himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins. And I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

Anointing of the Sick and Dying

Matter Olive oil blessed by a bishop

Form Priest’s prayer of absolution. “Through this holy anointing and His most loving mercy, may the Lord assist you by the grace of the Holy Spirit, so that, freed from your sins, He may save you and in His goodness raise you up.”

Holy Orders

Matter Bishop’s imposition of hands on the head of the ordinand.

Form The bishop’s prayer of consecration § 1573.

Holy Matrimony

Matter Consent of the man and the woman

Form The man and woman confer the sacrament upon each other.


The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) tells us about the seven sacraments:

The Sacraments of Christian Initiation

The sources of Christian life.


Rebirth in Christ.

§ 1214-1216 What is This Sacrament Called
§ 1217-1228 Baptism in the Economy of Salvation
§ 1229-1245 How is the Sacrament of Baptism Celebrated
§ 1246-1255 Who Can Receive Baptism
§ 1256 Who Can Baptize
§ 1257-1261The Necessity of Baptism
§ 1262-1274 The Grace of Baptism
§ 1275-1284 In Brief


Strengthens the Holy Spirit’s presence within us.

§ 1286-1292 Confirmation in the Economy of Salvation
§ 1293-1301 The Signs and the Rite of Confirmation
§ 1302-1305 The Effects of Confirmation
§ 1306-1311 Who Can ReceiveThis Sacrament
§ 1312-1314 The Minister of Confirmation
§ 1315-1321 In Brief

The Holy Eucharist

Nourishes our soul.

§ 1324-1327 The Eucharist – Source and Summit of Ecclesial Life
§ 1328-1332 What is This Sacrament Called
§ 1333-1344 The Eucharist in the Economy of Salvation
§ 1345-1355 The Liturgical Celebration of the Eucharist
§ 1356-1381 The Sacramental Sacrifice Thanksgiving Memorial Presence
§ 1382-1401 The Paschal Banquet
§ 1402-1405 The Eucharist – Pledge of the Glory to Come
§ 1406-1419 In Brief

The Sacraments of Healing

Restore our soul’s health.

Penance and Reconciliation

Forgives our sins.

§ 1423-1424 What is This Sacrament Called
§ 1425-1426 Why a Sacrament of Reconciliation after Baptism
§ 1427-1429 The Conversion of the Baptized
§ 1430-1433 Interior Penance
§ 1434-1439 The Many Forms of Penance in Christian Life
§ 1440-1449 The Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation
§ 1450-1460 The Acts of the Penitent
§ 1461-1467 The Minister of This Sacrament
§ 1468-1470 The Effects of This Sacrament
§ 1471-1479 Indulgences
§ 1480-1484 The Celebration of the Sacrament of Penance
§ 1485-1498 In Brief

Anointing of the Sick

Prepares us for eternity.

§ 1499 “By the sacred anointing of the sick and the prayer of the priests the whole Church commends those who are ill to the suffering and glorified Lord, that he may raise them up and save them. And indeed she exhorts them to contribute to the good of the People of God by freely uniting themselves to the Passion and death of Christ.”

§ 1500-1513 Its Foundations in the Economy of Salvation
§ 1514-1516 Who Receives and Who Administers This Sacrament
§ 1517-1519 How is This Sacrament Celebrated
§ 1520-1523 The Effects of the Celebration of This Sacrament
§ 1524-1525 Viaticum, the Last Sacrament of the Christian
§ 1526-1532 In Brief

The Sacraments at the Service of Communion

Aid the salvation of others.

Holy Orders

Work for the salvation of all.

§ 1536 “Holy Orders is the sacrament through which the mission entrusted by Christ to his apostles continues to be exercised in the Church until the end of time: thus it is the sacrament of apostolic ministry. It includes three degrees: episcopate, presbyterate, and diaconate.”

§ 1537-1538 Why Is This Sacrament Called “Orders”
§ 1539-1553 The Sacrament of Holy Orders in the Economy of Salvation
§ 1554-1571 The Three Degrees of the Sacrament of Holy Orders
§ 1572-1574 The Celebration of This Sacrament
§ 1575-1576 Who Can Confer This Sacrament
§ 1577-1580 Who Can Receive This Sacrament
§ 1581-1589 The Effect of the Sacrament of Holy Orders
§ 1590-1600 In Brief


Work for salvation for our spouse and the children to come.

§ 1601 “The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament.”

§ 1602-1620 Marriage in God’s Plan
§ 1621-1624 The Celebration of Marriage
§ 1625-1637 Matrimonial Consent
§ 1638-1642 The Effects of the Sacrament of Matrimony
§ 1643-1654 The Goods and Requirements of Conjugal Love
§ 1655-1658 The Domestic Church
§ 1659-1666 In Brief

Bishop Barron comments on the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist 11:03
Cardinal Arinze: Are Sacraments Necessary for Salvation? 4:06

The Seven Sacraments – Fr. Wade Menezes CPM  2:31

Healing Through the Sacraments – Fr. Mitch Pacwa Interviews Sr. Briege McKenna 10:54