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The Basic Values of the Catholic Church
The Seven Sacraments - Introduction
Jesus touches our lives through the sacraments. Our celebrations of the sacraments are signs of Jesus’ presence in our lives and a means for receiving his grace. The Church celebrates seven sacraments, which are divided into three categories.
1. Sacraments of Initiation
These sacraments lay the foundation of every Christian life.
In Baptism we receive new life in Christ. Baptism takes away original sin and gives us a new birth in the Holy Spirit. Its sign is the pouring of water.
Confirmation seals our life of faith in Jesus. Its signs are the laying on of hands on a person’s head, most often by a bishop, and the anointing with oil. Like Baptism, Confirmation is received only once.
The Eucharist nourishes our life of faith. Its signs are the bread and wine we receive—the Body and Blood of Christ.
2. Sacraments of Healing
These sacraments celebrate the healing power of Jesus.
Through Penance we receive God’s forgiveness. Forgiveness requires being sorry for our sins. In Penance we receive Jesus’ healing grace through absolution by the priest. The signs of this sacrament are our confession of sins and the words of absolution.
This sacrament unites a sick person’s suffering with that of Jesus and brings forgiveness of sins. Oil, a symbol of strength, is the sign of this sacrament. A person is anointed with oil and receives the laying on of hands from a priest.
3. Sacraments at the Service of Communion
These sacraments help members serve the community.
In Matrimony a baptised man and woman are united with each other as a sign of the unity between Jesus and his Church. Matrimony requires the consent of the couple, as expressed in the marriage promises. The couple and their wedding rings are the signs of this sacrament.
In Holy Orders men are ordained as priests, deacons, or bishops. Priests serve as spiritual leaders of their communities, and deacons serve to remind us of our baptismal call to help others. Bishops carry on the teachings of the apostles. The signs of this sacrament are the laying on of hands and anointing with oil by the bishop.