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Sacraments

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Our communion with Christ, although it requires our cooperation, is never the result of our own effort, but of His grace ordinarily communicated to us through Word and Sacrament. In the sections below, we will briefly examine each of the seven Sacraments of the New Covenant in the hope of responding more faithfully to Christ's invitation to follow Him.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church is divided into four parts; all of Part Two is dedicated to "The Celebration of the Christian Mystery." God's Eternal Plan of Salvation is made known to mankind by the gradual disclosure of His will that all men be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth, and the fullness of this revelation is the life, death, and Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Chapters 1-3 of Ephesians).

This Plan of Salvation is called a Mystery, meaning a thing in the mind of God but not known by us until it was revealed. The Greek word mysterion can be translated by two Latin words: mysterium and sacramentum, and it is from these words that we get our English terms mystery and sacrament. The seven sacred rituals given to the Church by the Lord Jesus are therefore called sacraments because they disclose to us the Paschal or Passover Mystery of Christ and unite us to His Person, much as the woman with a hemorrhage was united to His healing power by touching His cloak (cf. Mark 5:25-34). The seven sacraments are customarily grouped into three categories:

  • the Sacraments of Christian Initiation | Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist
  • the Sacraments of Healing | Reconciliation, Anointing of the sick
  • the Sacraments of Service | Holy Orders, Matrimony