If one was to ask some of the youngest children in Religious Education classes how many sacraments there are, they would respond, “seven.” Conversely, if one was to encounter one of the original twelve apostles, it would be a very interesting question to ask them just how many sacraments are there in the Catholic Church. While many of them actually participated in the institution of the sacraments, it was not until hundreds of years later that the sacraments where actually defined. It is through much theological study and the development of traditions over hundreds of years of Church history that we know there are seven sacraments: Baptism, Reconciliation, Holy Eucharist, Confirmation, Marriage, Holy Orders, and the Sacrament of the Sick. One of the requirements of a sacrament is that it was divinely instituted.
Following is a listing of the seven Sacraments and when each was divinely instituted:
Trinitarian Baptism: a doorway sacrament leaving an indelible mark that forever identifies the person as a child of God; John the Baptist baptized Christ in the river Jordan.
Reconciliation: Christ sent the apostles forth to convert all nations; He instructed his apostles to forgive sins in his name.
Holy Eucharist: established by Christ at the Last Supper as the way He would be with us, His True Presence throughout time.
Confirmation: the coming of the Holy Spirit, as established on Pentecost.
Sacramental Marriage: Christ’s presence and his first public miracle at the wedding at Cana elevated marriage to a sacrament.
Holy Orders: an indelible mark that confers a spiritual power for the governance and guidance in the ministry of divine worship; it is a matter of faith that Holy Orders is a sacrament instituted by Christ.
The Sacrament of the Sick: Christ’s mission was a healing mission, a mission He left for his apostles and their successors to continue.
To learn more in depth concerning the seven sacraments, their institution, effects and celebration, read the book written by Nicholas Halligan, O.P., The Sacraments and Their Celebration.
The Columbus Catholic Connection: If you are an adult missing the Sacrament of Confirmation, contact the Diocese of Columbus Office of the Liturgy or your parish office at your first convenience to register for Adult Confirmation that is scheduled for celebration in November.