Jesus Christ instituted the sacraments of the new law. We believe that Sacraments are “efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us.” They are the primary means of God’s grace entering into our world and our lives.
The seven Sacraments can be broken into three groupings, based upon their ends:
- Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist
- Sacraments of Healing: Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick
- Sacraments at the Service of Communion: Matrimony and Holy Orders
Sacraments of Initiation
“The sacraments of Christian initiation – Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist – lay the foundations of every Christian life. ‘The sharing in the divine nature given to men through the grace of Christ bears a certain likeness to the origin, development, and nourishing of natural life. the faithful are born anew by Baptism, strengthened by the sacrament of Confirmation, and receive in the Eucharist the food of eternal life. By means of these sacraments of Christian initiation, they thus receive in increasing measure the treasures of the divine life and advance toward the perfection of charity.'” – Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1212
“Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit (vitae spiritualis ianua), and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission: ‘Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water in the word.'” – Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1213
“Baptism, the Eucharist, and the sacrament of Confirmation together constitute the ‘sacraments of Christian initiation,’ whose unity must be safeguarded. It must be explained to the faithful that the reception of the sacrament of Confirmation is necessary for the completion of baptismal grace. For ‘by the sacrament of Confirmation, [the baptized] are more perfectly bound to the Church and are enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit. Hence they are, as true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed.'” – Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1285
“The holy Eucharist completes Christian initiation. Those who have been raised to the dignity of the royal priesthood by Baptism and configured more deeply to Christ by Confirmation participate with the whole community in the Lord’s own sacrifice by means of the Eucharist. At the Last Supper, on the night he was betrayed, our Savior instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice of his Body and Blood. This he did in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the ages until he should come again, and so to entrust to his beloved Spouse, the Church, a memorial of his death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a Paschal banquet ‘in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us.'” – Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1322-1323
Sacraments of Healing
Penance & Reconciliation
“Those who approach the sacrament of Penance obtain pardon from God’s mercy for the offense committed against him, and are, at the same time, reconciled with the Church which they have wounded by their sins and which by charity, by example, and by prayer labors for their conversion.” – Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1422
Anointing of the Sick
“By the sacred anointing of the sick and the prayer of the priests the whole Church commends those who are ill to the suffering and glorified Lord, that he may raise them up and save them. and indeed she exhorts them to contribute to the good of the People of God by freely uniting themselves to the Passion and death of Christ.” – Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1499
Sacraments at the Service of Communion
“The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament.” – Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1601
“Holy Orders is the sacrament through which the mission entrusted by Christ to his apostles continues to be exercised in the Church until the end of time: thus it is the sacrament of apostolic ministry. It includes three degrees: episcopate, presbyterate, and diaconate.” – Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1536
Sacraments of Initiation: About the Restored Order
At the conclusion of our last diocesan synod in 2017, all parishes within the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois began restoring the Original Order of the Sacraments of Initiation. St. Elizabeth is now fully aligned to administering the Sacraments of Initiation in the restored order.
In the early Church, the person was immersed into the waters of Baptism, anointed with chrism, and shared in the Eucharistic meal as part of a single event. Over time, and for many reasons, the celebration of these three sacraments became separated from one another. In the renewal stemming from the Second Vatican Council, the Church was asked to more clearly set forth the intimate connection of Confirmation with the whole of Christian initiation. This original order also helps us recognize that sharing in the Eucharist completes our initiation into the Church and that it is Eucharist which is the “source and summit of our faith.”
The most basic way to understand this is that, regardless of when a child was baptized, upon attaining the age of reason, they receive the other two Sacraments of Initiation (Confirmation and Eucharist) in that order, and wherever possible simultaneously. The norm in our diocese is to receive these from our bishop, who is the ordinary minister of these Sacraments. Our bishop typically makes it to each parish every year or two to adminster these Sacraments.
Preparing for Marriage