Communions & Confirmations Communions & Confirmations Communions & Confirmations

Explaining the Seven Sacraments

Sacraments within the Catholic church are ceremonies or acts that are regarded as signs of divine grace. Though there are seven sacraments, they are broken down into three categories. The Sacraments of Initiation, the Sacraments of Healing and the Sacraments at the Service of Communion each have different meaning and each are an integral part of a Catholic's life.

Sacraments of Initiation

The Sacraments of Initiation are important to establish the foundation of a Christian life. These sacraments include Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist, or First Holy Communion as it is commonly referred to as.

* Baptism: The first sacrament of initiation, Baptism is often performed on infants and involves pouring water on the recipient's head three times. Receiving the Sacrament of Baptism is considered essential for salvation.

* Confirmation: The second sacrament of initiation, Confirmation strengthens and confirms baptismal grace and, upon receiving the sacrament, candidates are officially recognized as adults in the eyes of the church.

* Eucharist: Though it's the third sacrament of initiation, the Sacrament of the Eucharist is received before the Sacrament of Confirmation. During the Sacrament of the Eucharist, communicants receive the body and blood of Jesus Christ for the first time.

Sacraments of Healing

The Sacrament of Reconciliation and the Annointing of the sick are the two sacraments of healing.

* Penance: Penance is a sacrament of spiritual healing wherein baptized Catholics exhibit contrition and confess their sins to a priest. Also referred to as Reconciliation, the Sacrament of Penance is not complete until penitents perform a task of reparation, which often includes reciting prayers.

* Anointing of the Sick: The second sacrament of healing, the Anointing of the Sick occurs when a priest anoints a sick person with blessed oils. Catholics typically only receive this sacrament when they are seriously ill, though it is possible to receive the sacrament more than once should a person recover and then need to receive the sacrament again in the future.

Sacraments at the Service of Communion

The sacraments at the service of communion, which include Holy Orders and Marriage, are not received by all Catholics.

* Holy Orders: The Sacrament of Holy Orders is received when a man is made a bishop, priest or a deacon. This sacrament is administered by a bishop and those hoping to receive the Sacrament of Holy Orders to enter the priesthood must first complete a seminary program that includes the study of philosophy and theology.

* Marriage: Couples who marry within the Catholic church receive the Sacrament of marriage, which is considered an exclusive bond sealed by God.