The Sacraments are sacred signs of divine origin, instituted by Jesus Christ, that reveal and communicate grace.
The Catholic Church accepts seven Sacraments which ‘touch all the stages and all the important moments of Christian life’ (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1210) and can be grouped in this way:
Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist
Sacraments of Healing: Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick
Sacraments at the Service of Communion: Holy Orders and Matrimony
The Sacraments, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, are the means by which divine life is dispensed to humanity. When a child is baptised or a couple is married there is an effect, however, the sacraments are not ‘magic’ meaning that regardless of what we do or how we live they universally bear fruit. Rather, they truly bear fruit when received with the right dispositions, preparation and intention (CCC 1131).
Just as our Lord Jesus Christ put on human flesh to draw close to us, it is fitting that the Sacraments are also expressed through tangible things, such as bread, wine, water, oil, and the human voice. The Church – as the Body of Christ – dispenses these Sacraments for the life of her members (CCC 1117-1118).