The Number of Sacraments in the Catholic Church

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Catholic Church is one of the chief Christian churches in the whole world. It is referred to as the Roman Catholic Church due to its history that roots at the Rome and also the importance that they attach to the world wide ministries of the Bishop of the Rome who is called the pope. (Finger 1971)

The traditions of the Catholic Church hold the belief that The Catholic Church was founded by Jesus Christ. They believe that by the coming of the Holy spirit upon the apostles was the first journey towards the public ministry of the church and it was therefore, referred to as the Pentecost. Catholics believe that the journey of Peter to Rome marked the beginning of the Catholicism. They believe that Peter founded a church in Rome and is said to be the first pope of the Catholic Church.

The Roman Catholic Church believes in the religious beliefs that are derived from the New Testament. They believe that God entered the world through the personification of his son Jesus Christ also referred to as the Messiah. Catholics attach a great deal of significance to the baptism rites and the Eucharist. It is believed that Baptism is the sacramental doorway in to the Christian life and the Eucharist is said to be the memorial of the death and resurrection of Christ. Christ is said to be sacramental present. Catholic honour the sacrament as the forgiveness of one’s sins in the reconciliation with the church through confession, following the holy orders, Christian marriages, confirmation and also the anointing of the sick. (Vorgrimler 1992)

The Roman Catholics celebrate mass on Sundays, which is also called the Eucharist. They also follow a liturgical calendar which is similar in the whole world. They are widely known for the rituals that they undertake and are observed by all other Roman Catholic Churches all over the world. It is the ritual that beautifies it and it creates a specific image that all Catholics can be identified with. They observe seven sacraments that are considered as key to the life of Catholic believer.

The Sacraments

The sacramental belief is one of the other characteristic principles of Roman Catholicism. The sacramental classification was successful especially in the focal Ages by the schoolmen with consequently at the Trent Council envisaged the sacraments principally as the causes of grace which could be received autonomous of the advantage of the recipient. The recent Catholic sacramental divinity emphasizes the function of the sacrament function as symbols of faith. They believe that sacraments can cause grace in so far as they are lucid symbols or signs of it, and thus the productivity, as different from the legitimacy, of the sacrament is reliant on the faith and dedication of the person who is receiving it. Sacramental rites are now carried out in the vernacular and not Latin so as to increase the precision of the signs. (McGrath 1998)

Traditional Catholicism associated sacramental divinity to Christology, focusing Christ's establishment of the sacraments and the supremacy of the sacraments to permeate the grace of Christ that was earned on the Calvary to the person taking the sacrament. Newer emphasis has connected the sacraments in to ecclesiology. It is said that we do not come across Christ directly, but only in the church which is said to be his body. The church reflects on the existence and the actions of Christ.

Sacrament is considered to be sacred and with divine grace directly from God. During the Medieval period, the sacraments were fixed to be seven which include the baptismal, blessed ashes, holy oil, water, crucifix, palms, candles and statues. The Sacramental are said to root grace only through the faith and commitment of those that are using them.

The first three sacraments which are; baptism, confirmation, Eucharist, are said to be concerned with Christian initiation into the holy life.


This sacrament is believed to remove the original sin and other personal sins of the person undergoing the sacrament. In this case, the person repents. It is said that everyone should be baptized otherwise they will not enter the heavens kingdom. However, not all baptism is referred to as sacramental except baptism that is done by water. The other baptisms that are honoured by the Catholics include; baptism of blood which is only received by dying for Christ for example the holy innocents in Matt 2: 16 - 18 and the baptism of desire which is only received by those who explicitly or implicitly desire baptism but are denied from receiving it in a sacramental way. The baptismal sacrament is referred to the gift of forgiveness. (Lohse 1978)


The notion of confirmation was developed recently during the middle age and was said to be one of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit that is meant to strengthen people who have decided to devote themselves to Christian life. The theology of substantiation was not urbanized up to the middle Ages. Confirmation was said to be the gift of the Spirit for strengthening while baptismal grace is for forgiveness. This difference has no foundation in the Scriptures or the fathers, but has been reserved to date following the endorsement by the Trent council. Today, however, the rite is at times administered at the same time as baptism and by the priest and not the bishop, to highlight that both are really parts of the one sacrament of the initiation stage.


Typically the Catholic books on the Eucharist comprise of the sacrificial nature of the Mass and the transubstantiation. Both were described at the Trent and neither was customized at the Vatican II. The bloody sacrifice of the Eucharist is known with the bloody sacrifice of the cross, in that both are obtainable in favour of the sins of the existing and the departed. Hence Christ is a similar victim and priest in the mass as he was on the cross. Transubstantiation which is where the faith that the matter of bread and wine is transformed into the blood and the body of Christ, was first told of at the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215. The Eucharist is also referred to as the Holy Communion. (Schwaller 2011)

The two sacraments of penance and the anointing of sick are mainly concerned with healing.


This was also developed at the middle age and it consisted of four components which included confession, satisfaction absolution by the priest and contrition. It is all about the grave sins which are confessed to the priest and is said to act as the judge. The role of the priest at the penance is known as the healer and thus the sacrament is referred to as reconciliation not with restoration of friendship but with the church. It is believed that with contrition a person’s union with God is said to be restored though he/she is still required to seek forgiveness in the penance sacrament because it is said that the person’s sin is a compromise to the churches mission of being a holy people.

Anointing the Sick

This rite was primarily reserved for the dying during the middle age thus also being referred to as the last anointing. It was later changed to be the anointing of the sick and it was said that it is not only anointed on those people who were on their death bed.

The sacrament of marriage and order are referred to as the sacraments of vocation and commitment.


The marriage sacrament is said to be indissoluble and was affirmed by the councils of Trent and Florence. It has not been reworked to embrace some deficiencies of character that may arise during marriage.


Vatican II renowned that all the baptized take part in some way in priesthood of Christ, but established Catholic customs on the clerical pecking order by decreeing that there is a difference between the priesthood that is conferred by baptism and the one that is conferred by ordination. The priest that is ordained has three orders which include bishops, priests, and deacons. The office of priest came up when it was no longer sensible to go on recognizing the Jewish priesthood and with the progress of a sacrificial perceptive of the Lord's Supper.


The history of sacrament is as old as the Roman Catholic Church itself. It is a culture that all Catholic churches in the world observe despite its origin being Rome. It is observed as a manner of celebrating the rites of the holy sacrifice, reciting the office that is considered divine and administering the holy sacrament. It is for this reason that the sacrament is strictly observed by the Catholics a sacred belief that guides their everyday life.

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