by Rev. Deacon Dave Powers, Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Monroe, North Carolina
In the next several weeks I would like to explore the Sacraments with you using articles from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I field many questions about the Sacraments from adults as well as many of our RCIA and Faith Formation Students so I thought this series might be beneficial to our parishioners.
THE PASCHAL MYSTERY IN THE CHURCH’S SACRAMENTS (Taken from the Catechism of the Catholic Church)
1113 The whole liturgical life of the Church revolves around the Eucharistic sacrifice and the sacraments.
There are seven sacraments in the Church: Baptism, Confirmation or Chrismation, Eucharist, Penance, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders, and Matrimony.
This Article will discuss what is common to the Church’s seven sacraments from a doctrinal point of view.
1.The Sacraments of Christ
1114 “Adhering to the teaching of the Holy Scriptures, to the apostolic traditions, and to the consensus… of the Fathers,” we profess that “the sacraments of the new law were . . . all instituted by Jesus Christ our Lord.”
1115 Jesus’ words and actions during his hidden life and public ministry were already salvific, for they anticipated the power of his Paschal mystery. They announced and prepared what he was going to give the Church when all was accomplished. The mysteries of Christ’s life are the foundations of what he would henceforth dispense in the sacraments, through the ministers of his Church, for “what was visible in our Savior has passed over into his mysteries.”
1116 Sacraments are “powers that comes forth” from the Body of Christ, which is ever-living and life-giving. They are actions of the Holy Spirit at work in his Body, the Church. They are “the masterworks of God” in the new and everlasting covenant.
2.The Sacraments of the Church
1117 As she has done for the canon of Sacred Scripture and for the doctrine of the faith, the Church, by the power of the Spirit who guides her “into all truth,” has gradually recognized this treasure received from Christ and, as the faithful steward of God’s mysteries, has determined its “dispensation.”
Thus the Church has discerned over the centuries that among liturgical celebrations there are seven that are, in the strict sense of the term, sacraments instituted by the Lord.
1118 The sacraments are “of the Church” in the double sense that they are “by her” and “for her.” They are “by the Church,” for she is the sacrament of Christ’s action at work in her through the mission of the Holy Spirit. They are “for the Church” in the sense that “the sacraments make the Church,” since they manifest and communicate to men, above all in the Eucharist, the mystery of communion with the God who is love, One in three persons.
1119 Forming “as it were, one mystical person” with Christ the head, the Church acts in the sacraments as “an organically structured priestly community.” Through Baptism and Confirmation the priestly people is enabled to celebrate the liturgy, while those of the faithful “who have received Holy Orders, are appointed to nourish the Church with the word and grace of God in the name of Christ.”
1120 The ordained ministry or ministerial priesthood is at the service of the baptismal priesthood.
The ordained priesthood guarantees that it really is Christ who acts in the sacraments through the Holy Spirit for the Church. The saving mission entrusted by the Father to his incarnate Son was committed to the apostles and through them to their successors: they receive the Spirit of Jesus to act in his name and in his person. The ordained minister is the sacramental bond that ties the liturgical action to what the apostles said and did and, through them, to the words and actions of Christ, the source and foundation of the sacraments.
1121 The three sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders confer, in addition to grace, a sacramental character or “seal” by which the Christian shares in Christ’s priesthood and is made a member of the Church according to different states and functions. This configuration to Christ and to the Church, brought about by the Spirit, is indelible; it remains forever in the Christian as a positive disposition for grace, a promise and guarantee of divine protection, and as a vocation to divine worship and to the service of the Church. Therefore these sacraments can never be repeated.