Sacraments of Faith
Defining the Sacraments: “The sacraments are efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us. the visible rites by which the sacraments are celebrated signify and make present the graces proper to each sacrament. They bear fruit in those who receive them with the required dispositions” (CCC 1131).
Sacraments are not a “sign” in the natural sense of sign. Rather, the Sacraments make visible (through signs) an invisible reality. For example, in the Sacrament of Baptism water is used as a sacramental sign. The water reminds us of Jesus’ own baptism, of refreshment, cleansing, and new life. These outward “signs” reveal what is happening on the supernatural level: Someone is being reborn into the Body of Christ and adopted into the family of God. With each of the seven Sacraments there are outward signs that make present and reflect what actually is happening in the supernatural. Just as our bodies and spirits are one, so too does God desire to make himself known to us through these tangible signs. This is one of the reasons for Jesus even taking on flesh: to make present the invisible God in a human being.
Christians who are not Protestant (nor non-denominational) recognize that Jesus gave his Church seven Sacraments. In order to help understand them, they are broken down into three main categories. Those categories are listed below with a link to that Sacrament’s particular page: