The Seven Sacraments
This paper will be covering the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church. The seven sacraments of the Catholic Church are very important aspects of the Catholic religion. Each has special meaning and is a right of passage for most Catholics. Written in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, it is noted that "the seven sacraments touch all the stages and all the important moments of Christian life" (Catechism 341). The first three sacraments, Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist, are referred to as the sacraments of initiation. These three sacraments are celebrated with the entry of each new member to the Christian Church. With these, they "lay the foundation of every Christian life" (Catechism 341). The first of the three sacraments is the Baptism. Water is a key element in this sacrament because it symbolizes not only the washing away of old sins, but the presence of the Holy Spirit. As a result of Baptism, the individual becomes united with the Body of Christ. Baptism allows the person to share in the experience of Christ because Christ himself was baptized at the start of his life. As St. Paul points out in the Book of Romans, however, Baptism also has a more profound significance in terms of uniting a person with the Holy Spirit. According to Paul, "For surely you know that when we were baptized into union with Christ Jesus, we were baptized into union with his death. By our baptism, then, we were buried with him and shared his death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from death by the glorious power of the Father, so also we might live a new life" (Romans 6:3-4). Although the baptizing of infants is the commonplace for the Church, new age Christians are seeking to make adult baptism the norm. With a greater degree, adults are better able to understand what the ceremony of the sacrament is "trying to express and to effect" (Macquarrie 65). This effort comes in the wake of Vatican II council that was held in the early 1960s. This committee urged the simplification of Church rituals so that followers could better understand them. As stated in the Catechism of the Church, "Baptism seals the Christian with the indelible spiritual mark of his belonging to Christ," and "no sin can erase this mark" (356). With the sacrament of Confirmation, the baptized member receives "the Holy Spirit poured out, the same Spirit who was sent upon the Apostles by the Lord on the day of Pentecost" (Halligan 43). As the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles and the other followers, "they saw what looked like tongues of fire which spread out and touched each person there" (Acts 2:2-3). Each person who came in contact with a tongue of fire was filled with the Holy Spirit, then began to talk in foreign languages, "as the Spirit enabled them to speak" (Acts 2:4). Followers of the Church can receive the gift of the Holy Spirit by participating in the sacrament of Confirmation. The importance of receiving the Holy Spirit is because it brings believers closer to Christ. According to Turner; Confirmation "celebrates the activity of the Holy Spirit in individual members, stimulating them to bear witness to the faith and foster the growth of the Church" (5). Turner indicates that this means that Confirmation is not only a celebration of the unity with Christ but also of Catholic unity in general. In Turner's words, "the gift of the Holy Spirit celebrates the unity the new member has with other Catholics" (59). The Holy Spirit that is received in Confirmation is also a source of strength. Therefore, in addition to confirming the bond between believers and Christ, the gift of the Holy Spirit "strengthens them so that they may bear witness to Christ for the building up of his body in faith and love" (Halligan 43). Confirmation also bestows other gifts of the Spirit upon those who receive it. According to St. Ambrose, a distinguished leader in the early period of Church history, the Spirit that...
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