The seven sacraments touch all the stages and the important moments of the Christian life. They give birth and increase healing and mission to the Christians life of faith. There is thus a certain resemblance between the stages of natural life and the stages of the spiritual life.
The seven sacraments hold a special place in the prayer and life of the Christian community. While God’s grace is at work in the whole of creation and throughout our lives, the sacraments are a special assurance of this presence and grace of God. They are central and privileged moments of encounter with the God of Jesus Christ.
Baptisms, Confirmation and Eucharist are known as the three sacraments of initiation. Baptism celebrates our first entry and welcome into the Christian community. It is also a celebration of birth. Confirmation ‘confirms’ our baptismal call and vocation. It is also a celebration of our human maturing. Eucharist is the culmination of our Christian initiation as well as the gathering together of our daily living.
Reconciliation and anointing are the sacraments of healing. The sacrament of reconciliation relates to our experience of sin and failure, proclaiming to us the grace of forgiveness and repentance. In the Sacrament of Anointing, God’s comforting presence is proclaimed to us as we cope with illness and infirmity.
Marriage and Holy Orders are the sacraments of vocation. For the baptised, the life-decision that is Marriage is seen as a key step in the Christian journey, a grace filled action for both the couple and the community. Likewise in the sacrament of Ordination, God’s grace works for both the person being ordained and for the whole Christian community.
Actions of the Christian Community.
Because they are actions of the Christian community, the sacraments are to be characterised by a full, active and conscious participation by the whole assembly. They are not just actions of those in the ministry but celebrations of all of us together.