The Catholic Church, in faith, believes that Christ entrusted to her not only the proclamation of His Gospel, but also the celebration of the Sacraments. As such, her liturgical life is centered on this reality principally in the Holy Eucharist. The Church teaches that there are seven sacraments, “outward sign[s]….to give grace,” and they are Baptism, Holy Eucharist (or Communion), Confirmation, Penance (Confession/Reconciliation), Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders, and Matrimony.
Sacraments of Initiation
Traditionally, Baptism, Communion, and Confirmation are dubbed Sacraments of Initiation. They not only graft a believer to the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, but also His mystical body, the Church. In these sacraments, all believers are given the grace to “be holy as the Father in heaven is holy,” and in doing so, “going out to teach all that Christ Himself had taught.”
Sacraments of Vocation
Holy Orders and Matrimony are called the Sacraments of Vocation, marking the God-given calls to ordained ministry and family life, respectively. These sacraments “are directed to the salvation of others…they confer a particular mission in the Church and serve to build up the People of God.” In Holy Orders, men are ordained to the offices of deacon, priest, and bishop to continue the Church’s mission until the end of time. In Holy Matrimony, husband and wife forsake all other loves for a permanent and faithful bond ordered to the procreation and rearing of offspring.
Sacraments of Healing
Lastly, Penance and Anointing of the Sick are called the Sacraments of Healing, as when we find ourselves physically or spiritual frail the Church, in Christ’s Name, imparts grace and healing. In Penance, one confesses their sins to a priest who in Christ’s name provides not only comfort and counsel, but also absolution. In Anointing of the Sick, whether in serious illness or approaching death, one may approach a priest to be anointed and have hands laid on to receive the healing and merciful presence of the Divine Physician.