From An American Catholic Catechism

Baptism envelops the beginning of life in Godís loving kindness and stamps it with the irrevocable concern of Christ and his assembled people. As a person approaches maturity, Confirmation renews the gift of Godís spirit as the source of strength and support in a life of discipleship and service. In ecclesiastical penance, we can deal with the cancer of sin and the wound of guilt and infidelity by approaching the Lord, "A God merciful and gracious, slow to anger Öforgiving iniquity and transgress of sin" (Ex. 34:6). When serious illness threatens to engulf us in self-concern, sacramental anointing brings Godís presence and assimilates us to Christ who suffered on behalf of many. Ordination and marriage are sacramental dedications of mature Christians to the lifelong vocation of loving service to which God calls them.

Our basic problem, however, the one that accompanies us for a lifetime, is the way we relate to other people. Can we grow in prompt readiness to help and serve the Christ who calls to us through people in need? Thus, God would have us return constantly to the eucharistic meal where we and those near to us are made one body in Christ and where we are inserted into Christís selfless giving of himself on behalf of every human person.

Through the sacrament, therefore, the course of our personal lives is repeatedly punctuated by Godís loving presence at just the moments of our greatest need of Him.


What are sacraments?

The sacraments are outward signs instituted by Christ given to the Church. Through them participants experience the love and power of God (grace) that flows from Christís Passion, Death and Resurrection.

What are the names of the seven sacraments?

Of Initiation Of Vocation Of Healing


Eucharist (Holy Communion)


Holy Orders

Matrimony (Marriage)



Anointing of the Sick (Extreme Unction)

Reconciliation (Confession)


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What is Anointing of the Sick?

Anointing of the Sick is one the Sacrament of the Church for the seriously ill or dying. In this Sacrament, the Lord Jesus through His Church cares for the sick and dying. Since the medieval period this sacrament has been called Extreme Unction and has been perceived almost exclusively as a rite celebrated for the dying Christian. In accordance with the Second Vatican Council, we now hold the more traditional perspective on this sacrament. Namely, it is the Sacrament for the strengthening of those whose health is debilitated by physical illness or old age.

Who can receive Anointing of the Sick?

Since the anointing is directed to physical as well as to spiritual healing, all who have attained the age of reason and who are seriously ill can receive it.

Who administers Anointing of the Sick?

It is administered by a priest.

How is Anointing of the Sick performed?

There are three ritual elements of this sacrament:

While the priest anoints the forehead of the sick person he says: "Through this holy anointing may the Lord in his love and mercy help you with the grace of the Holy Spirit." Then the priest anoints the sick personís hands while saying: "May the Lord who frees you from sin save you and raise you up."

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What is Baptism?

Baptism is the sacrament by which one becomes a member of the Christian community.

How is Baptism administered?

The usual ministers of Baptism are bishops, priests or deacons. Most Baptisms are performed for infants. As the minister pours water on their heads, he says, "I baptize you in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit."

Can adults receive Baptism?

Yes. Adults usually receive Baptism after a period of preparation. Today, the usual form of preparation is through the Rite of Christian Initiation (RCIA).

Can lay persons perform Baptism?

In serious circumstances, any member of the faithful may administer Baptism.

Who are the godparents?

A godparent is a fully initiated Catholic Christian who represents the faith community. In the case of infant Baptism, godparents pledge to support the parents in their role of Christian formation of the child.

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What is confirmation?

Confirmation, like baptism, is a sacrament in the Christian initiation process. At present it may be celebrated as part of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) or as a sacrament separate from Baptism, for those baptized as infants. Confirmation reaffirms what happened at one's baptism.

How is Confirmation administered?

Confirmation is usually performed by a Bishop. The recipient of Confirmation is anointed with consecrated oil as the bishop says the words: "I sign you with the sign of the cross and confirm you with the chrism of salvation in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit."

What is a sponsor?

A sponsor accompanies the candidate for Confirmation to the presider indicating interest and involvement in the candidateís progress in membership in the Church community. Frequently a sponsor is also the candidateís godparent.

At what age is the sacrament of Confirmation performed:

For those baptized as infants, a common practice is at adolescence. In the case of those confirmed during the RCIA process, it is done at the Easter Vigil after baptism.

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EUCHARIST (Holy Communion)


What is the Eucharist?

The Eucharist is the Sacrament wherein the believer encounters the Lord Jesus in Bread and Wine. This Bread and Wine has become the Body and Blood of the Lord, given as strength for the believer.

The Eucharist (Gk. "thanksgiving") is also the sacramental celebration of the Paschal Mystery (i.e., Christís dying and rising for human kind). It is done in a context of praise and thanks for all that God has done and continues to do. During the Eucharist the Holy Spirit is called down on the assembly that it might become the Body of Christ, the People of God.

What changes were made by Vatican II in the liturgy of the Eucharist?

The Vatican Council called for a full, conscious, and active participation in the liturgy. It is intended to preclude Christians from being strangers or silent spectators at its celebration. To facilitate participation, the council called for a reform of the Eucharist ritual. It also called for use of the vernacular, or common language, in place of Latin. The ancient practice of Communion under the species of both bread and wine was restored in certain situations.

Who performs the sacrament of the Eucharist?

Priests perform the sacrament of the Eucharist within the celebration of the Mass.

Who distributes the Eucharist?

The ordinary minister of the Eucharist is the priest who presides at the celebration. However, assisting ministers can be employed to help distribute the Eucharist.

What is the Eucharistic prayer?

The eucharistic prayer is the liturgical expression of praise and thanksgiving for all that God has done in creation and in the Pascal Mystery (see above) in and through the Holy Spirit. The prayer contains explanatory phrases in the words over the Bread ("Body given for you" - Luke 22:19) and cup ("new covenant in my Blood" - Matt 26:28), and Christís command, ("Do this in memory of me" - I Cor 11:24).

During this prayer over the Bread and the Wine, they become the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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MATRIMONY (Marriage)

Is there a difference between civil marriage and sacramental marriage conducted in the Roman Catholic Church?

Yes. Unlike a civil ceremony, sacramental marriage invites and fully recognizes God's presence in the union. This presence helps the partners grow in love with each other and in the love of God.

Why is Matrimony a sacrament?

There are a number of reasons. First, the union is based in Scripture. There union is found throughout the Old and New Testaments. The references begin at the creation, when man and woman were created to be together (Genesis 1:26-27). At the end of the New Testament, we have the image of the Feast of the Lamb at the end (Revelation 19:7-9)

Is a sacramental marriage permanent?

Yes. In modern times, maintaining a union that is permanent can be challenging. The many broken marriages in our society attest to this. However, permanence is a a key component in sacramental marriage. The invitation and recognition of God's presence works to maintain the union. With this and the commitment of the couple conflicts and struggles may be worked out more readily.

How should couples prepare for the sacrament of matrimony?

The spiritual, relational, and practical considerations of marriage require clear thought and planning. It is wise to seek counsel form a priest or other minister well in advance of ceremony. This helps the couple to prepare for many of the questions and issues that will arise when they are married. Pre-Cana and other pre-marital classes and workshops may be available to help explore the fullness that married life offers.

What requirements must a couple meet to be wed in the Church?

First, it is necessary that there are no encumbrances for either party. There must be a valid marriage license. A priest must be available to perform the ceremony. In most cases, a pre-marital class is required. This ensures that the couple understands the commitment involved and has taken time to prepare for the adjustment to married life.

What are the objectives, goals, ends of sacramental marriage?

The objective is to establish a loving and permanent partnership between the spouses. Each person accepts the other in their entirety. The couple lives together, establishes family, and raises and educates their children.

How are sex and marriage related to the call to holiness in Christian life?

In our culture, sexual attitudes and practices have undergone enormous changes in recent decades. But while a true understanding of human sexuality evolves, certain facts remain. Sexual relations are correctly based in the the marital union of two persons. This fully committed relationship forms the basis of parenting, which elevates the couples joy to a higher level. When sexual unions are formed in other ways, the results are familiar. Broken homes, failed relationships and abandonment are the end results.

What are some requirements of couples in sacramental marriage?

There are several, and a few will be touched upon here. Faithfulness to each other in sexual relations. In this, the union of the flesh leads to a unity of sprit, of purpose, and of will. Openness to fertility in a way which promotes the dignity of the human persons. Commitment to the permanent nature of sacramental marriage. Mutual love of one another, and sacrifice for each other. The example of Christ giving His life for the Church is the model of love for marriage (Ephesians Ch 5). Education of children, who should be raised with an understanding of the faith and a love of God.

Is there a recipe for happy marriage?

There a many components which create a harmonious and happy married life. Sharing prayer and sacramental graces enable couples to persevere amid the struggles of modern life. A willingness to forgive, at times repeatedly. It is written, "Be angry but do not sin, do not let the sun set on your anger." These words, written to everyday Christians, are especially pertinent to married couples. Finally, an understanding that the joys of married life will last a lifetime. When viewed this way, petty concerns of the day are very small compared to the love and joy that will last a lifetime.

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What is Holy Orders?

Holy Orders is the sacrament by which one is ordained into the ministry of the Diaconate, Priesthood, or Episcopacy in the Church. Reception of the sacrament unites the candidate with the ministry of Jesus and the Church. It empowers him to minister in the name and power of Christ within the Church and in the world.

What are the duties of those who receive Holy Orders?

Holy Orders carry the responsibilities of preaching, teaching and caring for the Church.

Who may receive Holy Orders?

Deacons, Priests and Bishops share in the one sacrament of Holy Orders, though each in his own way.

The Deacon, by virtue of their sacramental ordination may minister certain sacraments, and minister in conjunction with the Bishop, the body of Priests and the Diaconate.

The Priest, by virtue of sacramental ordination shares in the threefold ministry of Christ as minister of sacraments, as minister of Godís word, and as one who ministers in conjunction with the bishop and the body of Priests.

The Bishop, by virtue of sacramental ordination is head of the local Church. He is responsible for teaching, sanctifying and governing.

What is Ordination?

Ordination is the sacramental rite of the Church in which the Spirit of God is invoked on candidates for the office of bishop, priest and deacon as they are initiated into ministry in the Church. Ordination rituals were revised after the Second Vatican Council with efforts made to reflect the councilís teaching on the offices of the ordained. Emphasis is placed on the imposition of hands and the prayer over the candidate to be ordained.

Who performs Ordinations?

Bishops usually perform ordinations.

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What is Reconciliation?

The sacrament of Reconciliation is the experience within the Christian community, under the leadership of the bishop or priest, in which sinners are reconciled both to God and to the Church.

What are the four elements of Reconciliation?

The elements are contrition, confession, absolution, and satisfaction. They are the necessary ingredients of the Sacrament of Reconcilliation.

Where is the Sacrament of Reconciliation performed?

The Sacrament of Reconciliation, as Individual Confession of one Penitent, is performed in the reconciliation room or in the confessionals in the main body of a church. The Reconciliation room is designed to safeguard the penitentís anonymity or to allow the option of an informal fact-to-face exchange between the penitent and the priest.

Who celebrates the sacrament of Reconciliation?

Bishops and priests celebrate the sacrament of Reconciliation.

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