Sacraments

Christ promised he would not leave us orphans (Jn 14: 18) but would send the Holy Spirit to guide and protect us (Jn 15: 26). He gave us the sacraments to heal, feed, and strengthen us. During his earthly ministry Jesus healed, fed, and strengthened people using humble earthly elements such as mud, water, bread, oil, and wine. He could have performed his miracles directly, but he preferred to use material things to bestow his grace. He healed a blind man by rubbing mud on his eyes (Jn 9: 1-7). He multiplied a few loaves and fish into a meal for a large crowd (Jn 6: 5-13). He turned bread and wine into his body and blood for his apostles at their last meal together to share his everlasting love (Mt 26: 26-28). Through the sacraments he continues to heal, strengthen, and love us so that we may have life and have it more abundantly (Jn 10: 10).

The sacraments were foreshadowed in the Old Testament by sacred events that did not actually convey grace but merely symbolized it. For example, circumcision prefigured baptism and the Passover meal prefigured the Eucharist. Christ did not do away with symbols of God's grace rather he super-naturalized those symbols into bestowing grace. These sacred events are now more than just symbols, they are the instruments of his healing loving power.

Sacraments are communal rites or rituals that mediate divine grace. They are special occasions in the Church to experience God's saving presence. Theologians emphasize that sacraments are at the same time both "signs" and "instruments" of God's grace. The Seven Sacraments can be drawn together in three categories: Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Eucharist, and Confirmation), Sacraments of Healing (Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick), and Sacraments of Vocation (Marriage and Holy Orders).