"The purpose of the sacraments is to sanctify the people, to build up the body of Christ, and, finally, to worship God. Because they are signs they also belong in the realm of instruction. They not only presuppose faith, but by words and objects they also nourish, strengthen and express it. That is why they are called the sacraments of faith. They do, indeed, confer grace, but, in addition, the very act of celebrating them is most effective by making people ready to receive this grace to their profit, to worship God duly, and to practise charity." (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, 59)
The Roman Catholic Church recognizes seven sacraments: baptism, eucharist, confirmation, reconciliation, anointing of the sick, marriage and holy orders.
"The seven sacraments touch all the stages and all the important moments of Christian life: they give birth and increase, healing and mission to the Christian’s life of faith. There is thus a certain resemblance between the stages of natural life and the stages of spiritual life." (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1210)
The sacraments can be grouped into three categories.
- The sacraments of initiation are baptism, eucharist and confirmation;
- The sacraments of healing are reconciliation and anointing of the sick;
- The sacraments of service are marriage and holy orders.