Catholic Sacraments

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The Sacraments of the Catholic Church are, the Church teaches, efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us. The visible rites by which the sacraments are celebrated signify and make present the graces proper to each sacrament. They bear fruit in those who receive them with the required dispositions."

Though not every individual has to receive every sacrament[->0], the Church affirms that, for believers as a whole, the sacraments are necessary for salvation, as the modes of grace divinely instituted by Christ[->1] Himself. Through each of them Christ bestows that sacrament's particular grace, such as incorporation into Christ and the Church, forgiveness of sins, or consecration for a particular service.

The Church teaches that the effect of a sacrament comes by the very fact of being administered, regardless of the personal holiness of the minister administering it. However, a recipient's own lack of proper disposition to receive the grace conveyed can block the effectiveness of the sacrament in that person. The sacraments presuppose faith and through their words and ritual elements, nourish, strengthen and give expression to faith. The Catechism of the Catholic Church[->2] lists the sacraments as follows: “The whole liturgical life of the Church revolves around the Eucharistic sacrifice and the sacraments. There are seven sacraments in the Church: Baptism[->3], Confirmation[->4], Eucharist[->5], Penance[->6], Anointing of the Sick[->7], Holy Orders[->8], and Matrimony[->9]."

Baptism[->10] is the first and basic sacrament of Christian initiation. Baptism is usually conferred today by pouring water three times on the recipient's head, while reciting the baptismal formula: "I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit[->11].” The ordinary minister of the sacrament is a bishop or priest, or a deacon. In case of necessity[->12], anyone intending to do what the Church does, even if that person is not a Christian, can baptize. The sacrament frees from original sin[->13] and all personal sins, and from the punishment due to them. Baptism makes the person share in the Trinitarian life of God through "sanctifying grace[->14]", the grace of justification that incorporates the person into the body of Christ and his Church, also making the person a sharer in the priesthood of Christ. It imparts the theological virtues[->15]: faith[->16], hope[->17], and charity[->18] and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and marks the baptized person with a spiritual seal or character that indicates permanent belonging to Christ. Baptism is the foundation of communion between all Christians. The many symbols of baptism include a white garment, symbolizing innocence and purity, a candle, symbolizing the Light of Christ, the Oil of Chrism, which is used to anoint the baby or candidate being baptized, and the water, which symbolizes cleansing and the washing away of sin.

Confirmation is the second sacrament of Christian initiation. It is called Confirmation because it confirms and strengthens baptismal grace. It is conferred by "the anointing[->19] with Sacred Chrism[->20], which is oil mixed with balsam and consecrated by the bishop, which is done by the laying on of the hand of the minister who pronounces the sacramental words proper to the rite. These words refer to a gift of the Holy Spirit[->21] that marks the recipient as with a seal. Through the sacrament the grace given in baptism is strengthened and deepened. Like baptism, confirmation may be received only once, and the recipient must be in a state of grace meaning free from any known unconfessed mortal sin[->22] in order to receive its effects. The originating minister of the sacrament is a validly consecrated bishop[->23]; if a priest confers the sacrament and in special cases, the link with the higher order is indicated by the use of oil blessed[->24] by the bishop on Holy...
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