The Seven Sacraments
A sacrament is a holy ordinance through which the believer receives an invisible grace under the form of an outward sign.
The seven sacraments or mysteries in the Church are: Baptism, Confirmation, Penance, Holy Communion, Unction of the Sick, Matrimony and Holy Orders. In the performance of each sacrament, the Divine Majesty Himself (Christ) is present.
The sacraments were instituted by Christ.
Baptism is the sacrament through which a person is born again and accepted into the membership of the church after being dipped into water three times in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Of all the sacraments, it is the first because it is considered as the door through which the believer enters the church and the Kingdom of Grace according to what was said by the Lord Jesus Christ: “Except a man be born of water and of the spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God” (John 3:5).
The Invisible Grace:
- Rebirth (John 3:5) or Regeneration (Titus 3:5)
- Remission of sins (Acts 2:38)
- Purification and Sanctification (1 Peter 3:21), (Ephesians 5:25-26)
- Salvation (Mark 16:16), (1 Peter 3:21)
- Adoption as children of God (Galatians 3:26-28)
Baptism is the partaking of Christ’s death and resurrection. Christ died and rose only once, and St. Paul says, “One Lord, one faith, and one baptism” (Ephesians 4:5). Therefore, those who have been validly baptized must not be baptized again.
– Obligations of the Baptized
Before receiving baptism, one must publicly declare his/her faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. “Then Peter said unto them, ‘Repent ye and be baptized, every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ’” (Acts 2:38). “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16).
For infants who cannot answer, their parents or Godparents must answer. After they have replied, the children are baptized. Male children are baptized forty days after birth and females eighty days after birth.
Confirmation is the sacrament through which the believer is granted the gifts of the Holy Spirit, Who alone can confirm him/her in the new life given to him/her through baptism. Like the Sacrament of Baptism, this sacrament can never be repeated.
Certain parts of the body are anointed with holy oil after saying certain prayers during the sacrament of confirmation.
The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit – wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, godliness, and fear of the Lord (Isaiah 11:2) –are given to the believers through this sacrament.
Although believers are reborn through the sacrament of baptism and receive the Holy Spirit through the sacrament of confirmation, still this does not mean that they are totally free from sin. The sacrament of Penance is necessary for repentance and sorrow for sins committed. It is administered before receiving Holy Communion. “Let a man examine himself and let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body” (I Corinthians 11:28-29). “Repent ye therefore, and turn to God, that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:19).
Every sin can be forgiven, however grave it may be, provided that the sinner should return in repentance. Priests are given power from Christ to absolve sinners. The penitent receives forgiveness through the mediation of the priests and returns to God after confession (Matthew 8:4).
This is the crowning service of the Christian church, the culmination of Christian worship, the peak of the Christian experience, where devout believers hold intimate communion with their living Lord through the consecrated elements of bread and wine. The church, through the ages, has regarded this sacrament as the supreme act of communal worship.
It is called:
- Holy Communion
- The Lord’s Table
- The Flesh and Blood of Christ
- The Eucharist
The Invisible Grace
- We partake of the flesh and blood of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
- We get the spiritual food which helps us to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
- We receive remission of sins (Matthew 26:27-28).
- We abide in Christ, and Christ abides in us (John 6:56).
- We get the Holy Fellowship with Christ Himself, with our fellow worshippers, and with all the Church on earth, with the saints around the throne of God, with the angels and archangels, and all the company of heaven.
- We are given true life in this world. Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink His blood, you have no life in you (John 6:53, 57).
- We are given eternal life (John 6:54, 58).
Unction of the Sick
Unction of the sick is the sacrament through which the priest anoints the body of the sick, asking for divine grace to cure both body and soul. It was said of the apostles that “they cast out many devils and anointed with oil many that were sick and healed them” (Mark 6:13), (James 5:14, 15).
The sacrament of Holy Matrimony is important for the life of mankind. It is holy and ordained by God. Through it, the husband and wife are united and given the Divine Grace which sanctifies their union and makes it perfect and spiritual like the unity of Christ and the Church.
All Christians should respect the Principle of Marriage and keep its regulations and must live in the faith of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Marriage is important for three reasons:
- For the preservation and growth of mankind (Genesis 1:28-29).
- For there to be mutual help between husband and wife (Genesis 2:18).
- To keep man and woman from the temptation of carnal lusts (St. Paul; 1 Corinthians 7:1-9).
The intention of marriage is that one husband should have one wife and one wife, one husband. It is a gift for the preservation of man’s health in this world and for his salvation in the world to come.
Holy Orders is the sacrament for ordaining and consecrating the clergy. Through this sacrament, the ordained clergy are granted a divine gift appropriate to the various services to which they are called.
This sacrament was instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ Himself when He chose and appointed the twelve apostles and seventy disciples. He set apart these special persons as apostles and spent a whole night with them before sending them into the world.