What is a Sacrament?

By Joshua Elias

The Sacraments are an efficacious sign instituted by Jesus Christ for us to gain grace. They are clear and tangible signs of Jesus’ grace that we can receive here on earth. In other words, a sacrament is an outward sign of an inward grace that Christ has for us to receive from Him, and a visible sign of an invisible reality given to us.

CCC12 states that , “grace is favour, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life”. Grace is a participation in the life of God, which is poured unearned into human beings, whom it heals of sin and sanctifies.

These sacraments are not simply “created” by the Catholic Church, but find foundation from the life of Jesus Christ. These sacraments that we practise and receive today are all instituted by Christ.. The Catholic Church ‘dispenses’ these sacraments to the Catholic faithful, as the sacraments are powers that come forth from the Body of Christ, and they are the actions of the Holy Spirit at work in his Church.

Sacraments can only be dispensed by Priests of the Catholic Church, who act in persona Christi, or in the person of Christ. This means that when the Catholic Church dispenses the sacraments through their priests, the Catholic faithful believe that they receive the sacraments as though from Jesus Christ himself!!

For that reason, no sacramental rite may be modified or manipulated at the will and whims of an individual minister or local community, and the same essential sacramental rite is celebrated the same as it is one part of the world as it is another! This means that as Catholics, when we go on holiday or study overseas, we can receive the same sacraments anywhere in the world that we find a Catholic Church!

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