The central article of faith for all Christians the belief that God sanctified humanity by becoming one of us in Jesus the Christ who through his death and resurrection brought us the fullness of redemption.
In that human life Jesus made God’s presence felt, through teaching, consoling, forgiving sins, healing and commissioning disciples to do the same. He did not leave us orphaned at his resurrection, rather he sent the Spirit to give life and direction to the Church. Christ continues to live and work in the church. In doing so he left us a series of signs in which he promised to be present and effective.
Some of those effective signs such as the Eucharist, Baptism were given very clear form in Jesus’ words. Others deriving from Christ’s commission to disciples, evolved over time. As the church reflected on its experience of God’s presence and its common characteristic shared by a group of liturgical actions. “Thus the Church has discerned over the centuries that among liturgical celebrations there are seven that are, in the strict sense of the term, sacraments instituted by the Lord. (Cath Catechism # 1117).
The sacraments are neither superstitious nor magical. Christians of all denominations believe that Christ is present and acting in the Church. All Christians also believe that Christ works in the world and in us through grace. “Grace is favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to be children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life.” (Cath Catechism 1996).
What is distinctive about the Catholic view of sacraments is that, the sacraments confer on those who receive them worthily the grace which the actions signify. We reasonably see Jesus mandate to baptize, to forgive sins and to break bread in memory of Him as His promise to be present to us in these symbolic combinations of word and actions.
The ministry of the church and the power of the Word of God work together to prepare us to receive and cooperate with the grace given in daily life and in the sacraments. God is present to us in the sacraments our community of faith helping us to appreciate and accept God gifts.