Catholic Sacraments

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"Christ instituted the sacraments of the new law. There are seven: Baptism, Confirmation, the Eucharist, Penance, the Annointing of the Sick, Holy Orders and Matrimony. The seven sacraments touch all the stages and all the important moments of Christian life: they give birth and increase, healing and mission to the Christian's life of faith. There is thus a certain resemblance between he stages of natural life and the stages of the spiritual life." (CCC 1210)

(A) In relation to the above quotation, explain why the Sacraments of Marriage, Annointing of the Sick and Holy orders are important to Catholics.

Part A: Vatican 11 has defined the term "sacrament" as an effective or efficacious symbol which has it's origins in Christ's intention. This means that each of the symbols actually brings about what it represents. Jesus Christ is an example: He is a symbol of God's love for Christians. However, he is more than just a symbol of God's love, He is actually God's love itself- God-made-man. And thus it is with the seven sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation, the Eucharist, Penance, the Annointing of the Sick, Holy Orders and Matrimony- God's love is made visible to Catholics.

"The Sacraments are perceptible signs (words and actions) accessible to our human nature. By the action of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit they make present efficaciously the grace that they signify." CCC 1089

The sacraments are divided into three categories: sacraments of initiation (Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist), sacraments of vocation (Marriage and Holy Orders) and sacraments of healing (Penance and Annointing of the Sick). These categories allow for the gifts of the sacraments to touch Catholics during the key moments of their lives which occur from birth, through childhood, adolesence, adulthood and death.

The common vocation or mission of all Christians as they reach a maturity and understanding of their faith (through the initiation sacraments) is to serve others in the name of Christ. The vocational sacraments of Marriage and Holy Orders allow Christians to answer this call in unique ways during their adult lives.

The sacrament of marriage creates a unique union between a woman and a man and looks towards the creation of new life, a new community that is called family. Marriage is in fact a mirror of God's covenant with his people- love is given freely and faithfully, it is all-forgiving and is everlasting. Marriage provides Catholics one concrete way to live the Christian life of love and service in the context of a family . Married Catholics are empowered by God to be living symbols of his love in the ordinary day-to-day existence of family life. Within this bond, the special priviledge of pro-creation allows married people to share their faith with their children and initiate them into the church as infants (through Baptism) and as children and adolescents (through the Eucharist and Confirmation). It can thus be seen that the spiritual sacrament of Marriage resembles the stages of natural life- a continuum of new life, learning and growth.

Marriage is one way of fulfilling the Christian mission to minister and serve others. There are others however, who chose to make a total, undivided commitment to God and His church. As well as the many communities of men and women who serve Christ, there are those who are called to share the priesthood of Christ in a special way- priests, bishops and deacons, who are ordained through the sacrament of Holy Orders. During their adult lives, these men are able to fulfill their vocation by preaching the gospel, teaching the faith, leading their community in worship, living virtuous lives and being symbols of the on-going presence of Jesus Christ. Their role of service is special in the community as they are able to initiate, heal, renew and affirm Catholic's faith during the important moments of their lives by being Sacramental Ministers.

Whilst the sacraments of vocation...
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