Journey through the Sacraments

Part 1: Introduction

During this Ordinary Time of the Liturgical Year, we will take a “journey through the sacraments” in this space. We will journey through the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Eucharist, Confirmation), then the Sacraments of Healing (Reconciliation, Anointing) and finally the Sacraments of Vocation (Marriage and Holy Orders).

We begin this journey with the most basic question: what is a sacrament? The word “sacrament” originally comes from the Greek word “mysterion”, which literally means mystery, secret, hidden. St. Augustine in the fifth century defined a sacrament as “an outward and visible sign of an inward and invisible grace.”

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “The sacraments are efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us.” (#1131) This is a complex definition, so let's break it down.

 

·      The word efficacious means 'effective.' This means that sacraments do what they say they do. We believe that because of God's power, sacraments simply work. Thus, when I go to confession, I have no doubt that my sins are forgiven through the words of Absolution by the priest.

  

·        A sign is an object, word, or gesture that points to something beyond itself. According to Catholic teaching, sacraments use all kinds of human objects, words, and gestures, but all of these points beyond themselves to something greater, to God and His grace. 


·        Grace is defined as God's free gift of His presence, His help, and His salvation.

 

The Catholic Church therefore teaches that sacraments point to and are channels of God's grace. They work as an effective means of communication between God and His people. In the next bulletin, we will journey through the three Sacraments of Initiation. Stay tuned!

 

Msgr. John S. Mbinda