Monday, 23 July 2012

Sacraments -- The Meaning of the word

The Meaning of the word 
“Sacraments” of the Catholic Church
The Sacraments of the Catholic Church are, the Roman Catholic 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, the Church affirms that, for believers as a whole, the sacraments are necessary for salvation, as the modes of grace divinely instituted by Christ Himself.
Likewise, as the sole dispenser of Christ's sacraments, the Catholic Church itself is spoken of as "The universal Sacrament of salvation" containing the individual seven sacraments.
Through each of these sacraments, according to the Church, 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 ex opere operato (see below for English translation), 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 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, Confirmation or Chrismation, Eucharist, Penance, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders, and Matrimony."
ex opere operato Latin phrase used since the 13th century to signify that the sacraments produce grace of themselves, apart and distinct from the grace dependent upon the intention of the person conferring the sacrament; the latter effect is designated by the phrase ex opere operantis. The phrase is first found in the writings of Peter of Poitiers (c.1130-1215)…

Another Definition of Sacraments

The Latin word sacramentum means "a sign of the sacred." The seven sacraments are ceremonies that point to what is sacred, significant and important for Christians. They are special occasions for experiencing God's saving presence. That's what theologians mean when they say that sacraments are at the same time signs and instruments of God's grace.
If you learn more about the sacraments, you can celebrate them more fully. To learn more about the individual sacraments, please follow the links below. You'll find easy-to-understand articles and a good sample of common questions and answers.

Sacraments: Vehicles of Grace

The sacraments are Christ's own gift that provide us with his grace.
They are the divine helps which God gives us to enable us to:
Believe the truths of his faith
Live according to his moral code
Grow in his gift of divine life
The seven sacraments are a fundamental part of the Catholic faith.
“… The grace itself would be invisible, as by its nature it must be. But the grace would come to us through the visible things that we deal with daily.”
And so God took the common things from the world about us—objects which we could taste and touch and feel, words that we could hear and gestures that we could understand—and made these the carriers of His grace.
He even matched the sign to the purpose for which the grace was given:
for the grace which cleanses
The appearances of bread and wine
for the grace which nourishes and gives growth
 for the grace which strengthens
To this combination of outward sign and inner grace, welded together by Christ, the Church gives the Latin name of sacramentum—a holy thing.
The sacraments are chosen instruments of divine power.
The exact definition of a sacrament is that it is "an outward sign instituted by Christ to give grace."
Three distinct ideas contained in that short definition:
Outward sign
Instituted by Christ
To give grace

...Instituted by Christ...
We know that no human power could attach an inward grace to an outward sign—not even the divinely guided but humanly applied power of the Church.
Only God can do that.
Between the time He began His public life and the time He ascended into heaven, Jesus fashioned the seven sacraments. When He ascended into heaven, that put an end to the making of sacraments.
The Church cannot institute new sacraments. There never can be more or less than seven, the seven Jesus has given us: Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Eucharist, Reconciliation (Confession or Penance), Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders, and Matrimony.
Jesus did completely specify the matter and form of some of the sacraments—notably Baptism and the Holy Eucharist. But this does not mean that He necessarily fixed the matter and form of all the sacraments down to the last detail.
...To give grace…

To read more about the Sacraments in detail, visit the website listed below, it will help you understand what the Sacraments are – and how powerful they can be in your life.
Excerpts taken from Beginning  --

More detailed information on this site under each Sacrament heading:  Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders and Matrimony….