Sacraments of the Catholic Church

There are seven sacraments of the Catholic Church, which according to Catholic theology were instituted by Jesus and entrusted to the Church. Sacraments are visible rites seen as signs and efficacious channels of the grace of God to all those who receive them with the proper disposition. The sevenfold list of sacraments is often organized into three categories: the sacraments of initiation (into the Church, the body of Christ), consisting of Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist; the sacraments of healing, consisting of Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick; and the sacraments of service: Holy Orders and Matrimony.[1]


The seven Sacrament
The seven sacraments of the Catholic Church

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."[2]

These seven sacraments were codified in the documents of the Council of Trent[3] (1545–1563), which stated:

CANON I.- If any one saith, that the sacraments of the New Law were not all instituted by Jesus Christ, our Lord; or that they are more, or less, than seven, to wit, Baptism, Confirmation, the Eucharist, Penance, Extreme Unction, Order, and Matrimony; or even that any one of these seven is not truly and properly a sacrament; let him be anathema.

CANON IV.- If any one saith, that the sacraments of the New Law are not necessary unto salvation, but superfluous; and that, without them, or without the desire thereof, men obtain of God, through faith alone, the grace of justification; -though all (the sacraments) are not necessary for every individual; let him be anathema.[4]

Dogmatic nature

Dogma includes divine revelation, i.e., the word of God (bible and tradition) and the word of God incarnate (Jesus),[5][6] and truths connected to divine revelation.[7] The sacraments, divinely instituted, are dogma[8] and are part of the liturgy, that is, public worship.[9] As dogma is immutable,[10] Baptism cannot be changed to allow a non-Trinitarian formula,[11] the Eucharist cannot be changed to allow unrepentant sinners to receive Jesus,[12] Matrimony cannot be changed to allow gay marriage,[13] and Holy Orders cannot be changed to allow priestesses.[14]

Faith and grace

Hildesheim Wrisberg-Epitaph Mitteltafel
Distribution of divine graces by means of the Catholic Church and the sacraments (Johannes Hopffe, Wrisberg epitaph, Hildesheim, before 1615)

The Catholic Church teaches that the sacraments are "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."[15]

While the Church itself is the universal sacrament of salvation,[16][17] the sacraments of the Catholic Church in the strict sense[18] are seven sacraments that "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".[19] "The Church affirms that for believers the sacraments of the New Covenant are necessary for salvation", although not all are necessary for every individual,[20] and has placed under anathema those who deny it: "If any one saith, that the sacraments of the New Law are not necessary unto salvation, but superfluous; and that, without them, or without the desire thereof, men obtain of God, through faith alone, the grace of justification;-though all (the sacraments) are not indeed necessary for every individual; let him be anathema."[21]

The Church further teaches that the effect of a sacrament comes ex opere operato, by the very fact of being administered, regardless of the personal holiness of the minister administering it.[22] 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.[23]

Sacraments of initiation

The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church states: "Christian initiation is accomplished by means of the sacraments which establish the foundations of Christian life. The faithful born anew by Baptism are strengthened by Confirmation and are then nourished by the Eucharist."[24]


Baptism Sainte-Chapelle MNMA Cl23717
Scene of baptism. Stained glass, Paris, last quarter of the 12th century. From the Sainte-Chapelle of Paris.

The Catholic Church sees baptism as the first and basic sacrament of Christian initiation.[25] In the Western or Latin Church, baptism is usually conferred today by pouring water three times on the recipient's head, while reciting the baptismal formula: "I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (cf. Matthew 28:19). In the Eastern Catholic Churches of Byzantine Rite immersion or submersion is used, and the formula is: "The servant of God, N., is baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."[26] Though sprinkling is not normally used, its validity is accepted, provided that the water flows over the skin, since otherwise it is not a washing.[27][28]


Confirmation or Chrismation is the second sacrament of Christian initiation.[29] "It is called Chrismation (in the Eastern Churches: anointing with holy myron or chrism) because the essential rite of the sacrament is anointing with chrism. It is called Confirmation because it confirms and strengthens baptismal grace."[30] It is conferred by "the anointing with Sacred Chrism (oil mixed with balsam and consecrated by the bishop), which is done by the laying on of the hand of the minister who pronounces the sacramental words proper to the rite."[31] These words, in both their Western and Eastern variants, refer to a gift of the Holy Spirit that marks the recipient as with a seal. Through the sacrament the grace given in baptism is "strengthened and deepened."[32] Like baptism, confirmation may be received only once, and the recipient must be in a state of grace (meaning free from any known unconfessed mortal sin) in order to receive its effects. The "originating" minister of the sacrament is a validly consecrated bishop; if a priest (a "presbyter") confers the sacrament — as is done ordinarily in the Eastern Churches and in special cases (such as the baptism of an adult or in danger of the death of a young child) in the Latin Church (CCC 1312–1313) — the link with the higher order is indicated by the use of oil (known as "chrism" or "myron") blessed by the bishop on Holy Thursday itself or on a day close to it. In the East, which retains the ancient practice, the sacrament is administered by the parish priest immediately after baptism. In the West, where the sacrament is normally reserved for those who can understand its significance, it came to be postponed until the recipient's early adulthood; in the 20th century, after Pope Pius X introduced first Communion for children on reaching the age of discretion, the practice of receiving Confirmation later than the Eucharist became widespread;[33] but the traditional order, with Confirmation administered before First Communion, is being increasingly restored.[33][34]


The Eucharist, also called the Blessed Sacrament, is the sacrament (the third of Christian initiation,[35] the one that the Catechism of the Catholic Church says "completes Christian initiation")[36] by which Catholics partake of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ and participate in his one sacrifice. The first of these two aspects of the sacrament is also called Holy Communion. The bread (which must be wheaten, and which is unleavened in the Latin, Armenian and Ethiopic Rites, but is leavened in most Eastern Rites) and wine (which must be from grapes) used in the Eucharistic rite are, in Catholic faith, transformed in their inner reality, though not in appearance, into the Body and Blood of Christ, a change that is called transubstantiation. "The minister who is able to confect the sacrament of the Eucharist in the person of Christ is a validly ordained priest alone."[37] The word "priest" here (in Latin sacerdos) includes both bishops and those priests who are also called presbyters.[38] Deacons as well as priests (sacerdotes) are ordinary ministers of Holy Communion, and lay people may be authorized in limited circumstances to act as extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion. The Eucharist is seen as "the source and summit" of Christian living, the high point of God's sanctifying action on the faithful and of their worship of God, the point of contact between them and the liturgy of heaven. So important is it that participation in the Eucharistic celebration (see Mass) is seen as obligatory on every Sunday and holy day of obligation and is recommended on other days. Also recommended for those who participate in the Mass is reception, with the proper dispositions, of Holy Communion. This is seen as obligatory at least once a year, during Eastertide.

Restored Order of Initiation

As a growing trend during the second half of the 2010s, many US dioceses of Latin Rite are officially returning to the traditional order of the three sacraments of Christian initiation, that is: Baptism, Confirmation and, lastly, the first Communion.[39]

This order of Sacraments is referenced in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (n. 1212), and “The holy Eucharist completes Christian initiation” (n. 1322).

The current order — with Eucharist preceding the Confirmation — was started in 1910 with the decree by Pope Pius X, Quam Singulari Christus Amore (transl.: “How Special Christ’s Love”), which said Communion should not be delayed beyond when a child reaches the age of reason. U.S. dioceses complied at that time, but they did not bring confirmation forward with it in a subsequent age.[39][40][41]

Sacraments of healing

Penance and Reconciliation (Confession)

The Sacrament of Penance is the first of two sacraments of healing. The Catechism of the Catholic Church mentions in the following order and capitalization different names of the sacrament, calling it the sacrament of conversion, Penance, confession, forgiveness and Reconciliation.[42] It is the sacrament of spiritual healing of a baptized person from the distancing from God resulting from sins committed. When people sin after baptism, they cannot have baptism as a remedy; Baptism, which is a spiritual regeneration, cannot be given a second time.

The sacrament involves four elements:

  1. Contrition (the penitent's sincere remorse for wrongdoing or sin, repentance, without which the rite has no effect);
  2. Confession to a priest who has the faculty to hear confessions (Canon 966.1) – while it may be spiritually helpful to confess to another, only a priest has the power to administer the sacrament;
  3. Absolution by the priest; and,
  4. Satisfaction or penance.

"Many sins wrong our neighbour. One must do what is possible in order to repair the harm (e.g., return stolen goods, restore the reputation of someone slandered, pay compensation for injuries). Simple justice requires as much. But sin also injures and weakens the sinner himself, as well as his relationships with God and neighbour. Absolution takes away sin, but it does not remedy all the disorders sin has caused. Raised up from sin, the sinner must still recover his full spiritual health by doing something more to make amends for the sin: he must 'make satisfaction for' or 'expiate' his sins. This satisfaction is also called 'penance'" (CCC 1459). In early Christian centuries, this element of satisfaction was quite onerous and generally preceded absolution, but now it usually involves a simple task for the penitent to perform later, in order to make some reparation and as a medicinal means of strengthening against further temptation.

The priest is bound by the "seal of confession", which is inviolable. "Accordingly, it is absolutely wrong for a confessor in any way to betray the penitent, for any reason whatsoever, whether by word or in any other fashion."[43] A confessor who directly violates the sacramental seal incurs an automatic excommunication whose lifting is reserved to the Holy See.[44]

In some dioceses, certain sins are "reserved" which means only certain confessors can absolve them. Some sins, such as violation of the sacramental seal, consecration of bishops without authorization by the Holy See, direct physical attacks on the Pope, and intentional desecration of the Eucharist are reserved to the Holy See. A special case-by-case faculty from the Sacred Penitentiary is normally required to absolve these sins.

Anointing of the Sick

Extreme Unction Rogier Van der Weyden
Extreme Unction, from Rogier van der Weyden's altarpiece

Anointing of the Sick is the second sacrament of healing. In this sacrament a priest anoints the sick with oil blessed specifically for that purpose. "The anointing of the sick can be administered to any member of the faithful who, having reached the use of reason, begins to be in danger by reason of illness or old age" (canon 1004; cf. CCC 1514). A new illness or a worsening of health enables a person to receive the sacrament a further time.

When, in the Western Church, the sacrament was conferred only on those in immediate danger of death, it came to be known as "Extreme Unction", i.e. "Final Anointing", administered as one of the Last Rites. The other Last Rites are Confession (if the dying person is physically unable to confess, at least absolution, conditional on the existence of contrition, is given), and the Eucharist, which when administered to the dying is known as "Viaticum", a word whose original meaning in Latin was "provision for a journey".

Sacraments of service

Holy Orders

Holy Orders is the Sacrament by which a man is made a bishop, a priest, and thus dedicated to be an image of Christ, or as a deacon, dedicated for service to the church. The three degrees are referred to, respectively, as the episcopate, the presbyterate and the diaconate.[45] The bishop is the only minister of this sacrament. Ordination as a bishop confers the fullness of the sacrament, making the bishop a successor to the Apostles, a member of the College of Bishops, and giving him the threefold office to teach, sanctify, and govern the People of God. Ordination as a priest configures the priest as Christ the Head of the Church, the one essential High Priest, and conferring on him the power, as the bishops' assistant, to celebrate the sacraments and other liturgical acts, especially the Eucharist. Ordination as a deacon configures the man in the service of the bishop, especially in the Church's exercise of Christian charity towards the poor, and preaching of the word of God.

Men who discern a vocation to the priesthood are required by canon law (canon 1032 of the Code of Canon Law) to undertake a seminary program that includes, as well as graduate level philosophical and theological studies, a formation program that includes spiritual direction, retreats, apostolate experience, Latin training, etc. The course of studies in preparation for ordination as a "permanent" deacon is decided by the regional episcopal conference.


Weyden Matrimony
Matrimony, from Rogier Van der Weyden's altarpiece

Matrimony, or Marriage, is another sacrament that consecrates for a particular mission in building up the Church, and that provides grace for accomplishing that mission. This sacrament, seen as a sign of the love uniting Christ and the Church, establishes between the spouses a permanent and exclusive bond, sealed by God. Accordingly, a marriage between baptized people, validly entered into and consummated, cannot be dissolved. The sacrament confers on them the grace they need for attaining holiness in their married life and for responsible acceptance and upbringing of their children. As a condition for validity, the sacrament is celebrated in the presence of the local Ordinary or Parish Priest or of a cleric delegated by them (or in certain limited circumstances a lay person delegated by the diocesan Bishop with the approval of the Episcopal Conference and the permission of the Holy See) and at least two other witnesses,[46] though in the theological tradition of the Latin Church the ministers of the sacrament uniquely are the couple themselves. For a valid marriage, a man and a woman must express their conscious and free consent to a definitive self-giving to the other, excluding none of the essential properties and aims of marriage. If one of the two is a non-Catholic Christian, their marriage is licit only if the permission of the competent authority of the Catholic Church is obtained. If one of the two is not a Christian (i.e. has not been baptized), the competent authority's dispensation is necessary for validity.

Validity and liceity

As stated above, the effect of the sacraments comes ex opere operato (by the very fact of being administered). Since it is Christ who works through them, their effectiveness does not depend on the worthiness of the minister. The belief that the validity of the sacrament is dependent upon the holiness of the administrator was rejected in the Donatist crisis.

However, an apparent administration of a sacrament is invalid, if the person acting as minister does not have the necessary power (as if a deacon were to celebrate Mass). They are also invalid if the required "matter" or "form" is lacking. The matter is the perceptible material object, such as water in baptism or wheaten bread and grape wine for the Eucharist, or the visible action. The form is the verbal statement that specifies the signification of the matter, such as, (in the Western Church), "N., I baptize thee in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost". Furthermore, if the minister positively excludes some essential aspect of the sacrament, the sacrament is invalid. This last condition lies behind the 1896 judgement of the Holy See denying the validity of Anglican Orders.

A sacrament may be administered validly, but illicitly, if a condition imposed by canon law is not observed. Obvious cases are administration of a sacrament by a priest under a penalty of excommunication or suspension, or an episcopal ordination without the Pontifical mandate (except in certain circumstances outlined in Canon Law).


Canon law specifies impediments to reception of the sacraments of orders and marriage. Those concerning the first of these two sacraments only concern liceity, but "a diriment impediment renders a person incapable of validly contracting a marriage" (canon 1073).

In the Latin Church, only the Holy See can authentically declare when divine law prohibits or invalidates a marriage, and only the Holy See has the right to establish for those who are baptised other impediments to marriage (canon 1075). But individual Eastern Catholic Churches, after having fulfilled certain requirements that include consulting (but not necessarily obtaining approval from) the Holy See, may establish impediments.[47]

If an impediment is imposed by merely ecclesiastical law, rather than being a matter of divine law, the Church may grant a dispensation from the impediment.

Conditions for validity of marriage such as sufficient use of reason (canon 1095) and freedom from coercion (canon 1103), and the requirement that, normally, a marriage be contracted in the presence of the local Ordinary or parish priest or of the priest or deacon delegated by either of them, and in the presence of two witnesses (canon 1108), are not classified in the Code of Canon Law as impediments, but have much the same effect.

Conditional conferral

Three of the sacraments may not be repeated: Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Orders: their effect is permanent. This teaching has been expressed by the images of, in the West, an indelible character or mark and of, in the East, a seal (CCC 698). However, if there is doubt about the validity of the administration of one or more of these sacraments, a conditional form of conferral may be used, such as: "If you are not already baptized, I baptize you …"[48]

In the recent past, it was common practice in the Catholic Church to baptize conditionally almost every convert from Protestantism because of a perceived difficulty in judging about the validity in any concrete instance. In the case of the major Protestant denominations, agreements involving assurances about the manner in which they administer baptism has ended this practice, which sometimes continues for other groups of Protestant tradition. The Catholic Church has always recognized the validity of baptism in the Eastern Orthodox Church, but it has explicitly denied the validity of the baptism conferred in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.[49] It does not recognize a baptismal ceremony in which the names of the three divine persons (or hypostases) of the TrinityFather, Son and Holy Spirit—are replaced by descriptors such as Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier, or Creator, Liberator, and Sustainer, and requires that the conditional form should not be used when baptizing those who have received this kind of baptism.[50]

See also


  1. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1211
  2. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1113
  3. ^ J. Waterworth (1848). "The canons and decrees of the sacred and oecumenical Council of Trent" (PDF). Documenta Catholica Omnia. Retrieved 2018-02-22.
  4. ^ The Seventh Session of the Council of Trent. London: Dolman: Hanover Historical Texts Project. 1848. pp. 53–67. Retrieved 23 April 2014.
  5. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church 97 "Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture make up a single sacred deposit of the Word of God" (DV 10) in which, as in a mirror, the pilgrim Church contemplates God, the source of all her riches.
  6. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church 73 God has revealed himself fully by sending his own Son, in whom he has established his covenant for ever. The Son is his Father's definitive Word; so there will be no further Revelation after him.
  7. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church 88 ...dogmas, that is,...truths contained in divine Revelation or also...truths having a necessary connection with these.
  8. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church 1210 Christ instituted the sacraments of the new law. There are seven: Baptism, Confirmation (or Chrismation), the Eucharist, Penance, the Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders and Matrimony.
  9. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church 1070 In the New Testament the word "liturgy" refers not only to the celebration of divine worship but also to the proclamation of the Gospel and to active charity.
  10. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church 1205 "In the liturgy, above all that of the sacraments, there is an immutable part, a part that is divinely instituted and of which the Church is the guardian, and parts that can be changed, which the Church has the power and on occasion also the duty to adapt to the cultures of recently evangelized peoples."
  11. ^ A New Response of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the Validity of Baptism Trinitarian faith calls for careful precision in language. If the substitution of the names of the divine Persons in the baptismal formula by other names that are proper to each of them (Parent, Child and Issue from both) had given rise to such serious doubt among theologians that Thomas Aquinas considered it invalid, then there is all the more reason to hold that what is conferred with the formulas considered in the questions presented to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is not true Baptism.
  12. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church 1385 Anyone conscious of a grave sin must receive the sacrament of Reconciliation before coming to communion.
  13. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church 2357 Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered." They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.
  14. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church 1577 The Lord Jesus chose men (viri)... The Church recognizes herself to be bound by this choice made by the Lord himself. For this reason the ordination of women is not possible.
  15. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1131
  16. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church, 774–776
  17. ^ "Lumen Gentium: chapter 7, section 48, paragraph 2". Retrieved 26 July 2012.
  18. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1117
  19. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1210
  20. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1129
  21. ^ Council of Trent, Seventh Session, canon IV
  22. ^ New Catholic Dictionary Archived 2012-09-24 at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ Sacrosanctum Concilium, 59, quoted in Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1123
  24. ^ sacraments of Christian initiation Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 251
  25. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1212
  26. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1239–1240
  27. ^ Charles Coppens, S.J., The Catholic Religion
  28. ^ Catholic Encyclopedia: Baptism
  29. ^ Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 251
  30. ^ Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 266
  31. ^ Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 267
  32. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1303
  33. ^ a b Liam G. Walsh, Sacraments of Initiation (Liturgy Training Publications 2011 ISBN 978-1-59525035-3), pp. 153-154
  34. ^ John Flader, "The age for Confirmation" in Question Time (Taylor Trade 2010 ISBN 978-1-58979594-5), pp. 86-87
  35. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1212
  36. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1322
  37. ^ Code of Canon Law, canon 900 §1
  38. ^ While in the English language, the word "priest" usually means someone received into the second of the three holy orders (also called the presbyterate) but not into the highest, that of bishop, the Latin text underlying this statement uses the Latin term sacerdos, which comprises both bishops and, in the common English sense, priests. To refer exclusively to priests in the more common English sense, Latin uses the word presbyter. See Dennis Chester Smolarski, The General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 1969–2002: A Commentary (Liturgical Press 2003 ISBN 9780814629369), p. 24.
  39. ^ a b M. Martin, OSV (August 7, 2015). "Restored order for sacraments a growing trend". Archived from the original on May 7, 2018. Retrieved May 7, 2018. Denver, Honolulu are latest to move the Sacrament of Confirmation ahead of first Communion
  40. ^ R. Ferrone (June 27, 2017). "Another U.S. Diocese Adopts the 'Restored Order'". Retrieved May 7, 2018. Structuring Programs for Eucharistic Participation Instead of Confirmation
  41. ^ N. LaPoint (May 21, 2015). "A brief catechism on the "restored order"". Archived from the original on September 15, 2015. Retrieved May 7, 2018.
  42. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1423–1424
  43. ^ canon 983 of the Code of Canon Law
  44. ^ canon 1388
  45. ^ US Conference of Catholic Bishops. Compendium: Catechism of the Catholic Church. USCCB Publishing. p. 93. ISBN 978-1-57455-720-6.
  46. ^ canons 1108 and 1112 of the Code of Canon Law
  47. ^ Canon 792, Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches
  48. ^ Code of Canon Law, canon 869; cf. New Commentary on the Code of Canon Law By John P. Beal, James A. Coriden, Thomas J., pp. 1057–1059.
  49. ^ "Response of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith". 5 June 2001. Retrieved 26 March 2010.
  50. ^ "Response of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith". 1 February 2008. Retrieved 26 March 2010.


  • Raniero Cantalamessa OFMCap, Introduction, in: Easter in the Early Church. An Anthology of Jewish and Early Christian Texts, (1993), J.M. Quigley SJ, J.T. Lienhard SJ (translators & editors), Collegville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, pp. 254, ISBN 0-8146-2164-3
  • Kenan B. Osborne, OFM, (1987), The Christian Sacraments of Initiation. Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, New York-Mahwah: Paulist Press, ISBN 0-8091-2886-1
  • Poschmann Bernhard SJ (1963). Penance and the Anointing of the Sick. The Herder History of Dogma. Fr. Courtney SJ (transl. from German). Freiburg – London: Herder - Burns & Oates. p. 257.
  • Liam G. Walsh OP (1988), The Sacraments of Christian Initiation. Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist. London: Geoffrey Chapman, ISBN 0 225 66499 2, pp. 317.
  • Vogel C. (1982). Le pécheur et la pénitence dans l'Église ancienne. Paris: Cerf. p. 213. ISBN 2-204-01949-6.
  • Vogel C. (1982). Le pécheur et la pénitence au moyen-age. Paris: Cerf. p. 245. ISBN 2-204-01950-X.
  • Edward Yarnold SJ, (1971) The awe inspiring rites of initiation. Baptismal homilies of the fourth century, Slough: St. Paul Publications, pp. 292 ISBN 0 85439 082 0

External links

31-line Indulgence

The 31-line Indulgence is a plenary indulgence granted by Pope Nicholas V and issued in Erfurt on 22 October 1454. It is the earliest known document with a fixed date printed by movable type, which had recently been invented by Johannes Gutenberg. One of 46 surviving copies is preserved in the Scheide Library at Princeton.

Anointing of the Sick in the Catholic Church

Anointing of the Sick is a sacrament of the Catholic Church that is administered to a Catholic "who, having reached the age of reason, begins to be in danger due to sickness or old age", except in the case of those who "persevere obstinately in manifest grave sin". Proximate danger of death, the occasion for the administration of Viaticum, is not required, but only the onset of a medical condition of serious illness or injury or simply old age: "It is not a sacrament for those only who are at the point of death. Hence, as soon as anyone of the faithful begins to be in danger of death from sickness or old age, the fitting time for him to receive this sacrament has certainly already arrived."Anointing of the sick has often been postponed until someone is on the point of dying, so much so that, in spite of the fact that, in all celebrations of this sacrament, the liturgy prays for recovery of the health of the sick person if that would be conducive to his salvation, Anointing of the Sick has been thought to be exclusively for the dying and has been called Extreme Unction (Final Anointing).The sacrament is administered by a priest, who uses olive oil or another pure plant oil to anoint the patient's forehead and perhaps other parts of the body while reciting certain prayers. It is believed to give comfort, peace, courage and, if the sick person is unable to make a confession, even forgiveness of sins. Several other churches and ecclesial communities have similar ceremonies (see Anointing of the Sick for a more general discussion).

Canon 844

Canon 844 is a Catholic Church canon law contained within the 1983 Code of Canon Law (1983 CIC), which defines the licit administration and reception of certain sacraments of the Catholic Church in normative and in particular exceptional circumstances, known in canonical theory as communicatio in sacris.

Thomas Condon wrote, in The Sanctifying Function of the Diocesan Bishop Especially in Relationship with Pastors, that this canon "empowers the bishop to regulate sacramental sharing for Catholics who might need to approach a non-Catholic minister; ... the canon enjoins the bishop to prevent a spirit of indifferentism from emerging because of sacramental sharing."

Condon wrote that Frederick R. McManus "noted that 'the intent of the canon is clear, namely to define the outer limits of permissible sharing of sacraments, aside from any question of validity or invalidity'." The Second Vatican Council's decree on ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio (UR), states that "worship in common (communicatio in sacris) is not to be considered as a means to be used indiscriminately for the restoration of Christian unity." In that context, John Beal's et al. New commentary on the Code of Canon Law notes that this canon does not address the specific question of "the seriousness of the need" on occasions of worship in common such as a marriage or funeral or similar ecumenical activities.


A chrismarium or chrismatory is a Catholic Church sacramental. It can either be a place in a church set apart for the administration of confirmation or an ampulla or jar, globular in form, usually made of silver or pewter, and used for containing chrism oil.


Christening is a ceremony associated with:

Baptism, a Christian sacrament of admission and adoption

Infant baptism, the practice of baptising infants or young children

Confirmation (or Chrismation), one of the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church

Christening, an example of a naming ceremony

Christening, naming of a vessel, as in ceremonial ship launching

Anointing, the ritual act of putting aromatic oil on a person

"Christening" (The Office), an episode of the US version of The Office

The Christening, a 2010 Polish drama film

Confirmation in the Catholic Church

Confirmation or Chrismation is one of the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church. It is the one of the three sacraments of initiation into the Catholic Church, the other two being Baptism and Holy Communion.According to Catholic doctrine, the Sacrament of Confirmation enables the faithful to be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit, strengthening them in their Christian life.

Crow King

Crow King (in Lakota Kȟaŋǧí Yátapi), also known as Medicine Bag That Burns, Burns The Medicine Bag or simply Medicine Bag; was a Hunkpapa Sioux war chief at the time of the Battle of Little Big Horn. Crow King was one of Sitting Bull's war chiefs at the Battle, he led eighty warriors against Custer's men on Calhoun Hill and Finley Ridge. For the duration of the battle of Little Bighorn, Crow King and his band of eighty warriors attacked Custer from the south, allowing Crazy Horse and Gall to surround the 7th Cavalry. Crow King died in 4-5-1884, cause of death according to the 4-11-1884 Bismarck Tribune, he died of "quick consumption" from a long lasting cold and received the rites and sacraments of the Catholic Church. Location of his burial is unknown.

His orphaned daughters, Mary Laura Crow King "Weasel" (Hintunkasan) b. 1876 died in 1889 and Emma Crow King "Red Deer Kid" (Tingleskaluta) b. 1880 married Paul Cournoyer and removed to Armour, South Dakota with their two children.

Extreme Unction, c. 1638–1640

Extreme Unction (or ‘Final Anointing’) is one of a set of seven scenes representing the sacraments of the Catholic Church, painted between 1638 and 1640 by the French artist Nicolas Poussin (1594–1665).

Commissioned in Rome by the renowned connoisseur Cassiano dal Pozzo, the scene depicts a dying man being anointed with oil in accordance with the rites of the early Roman church. To enhance the realism of the scene, Poussin drew on his extensive study of the art and artefacts of classical antiquity to represent the costumes, setting, and the structure of the painting itself, with the figures disposed frieze-like across the composition. This classicising tendency went on to make an inestimable impact on Western art, influencing many of the greatest painters of subsequent generations, from Jacques-Louis David and Ingres to Cézanne and Picasso; even today artists continue to be inspired by Poussin’s work and ideas about painting.

In treating themes of death and dying, Poussin revealed himself at his most ambitious, consciously pitting himself against no less an artist than the ancient Greek painter Apelles who was, Poussin wrote, "[much] pleased ... to represent scenes of death." Today, the sobriety and control of Poussin's paintings can seem difficult, or remote, to audiences. But in Extreme Unction subject and style are so perfectly aligned that Poussin's stark, lyrical, line, and controlled play of light and shadow bring out the full depth of emotion that marks this momentous scene.

Death remains one of the last great taboos in much of the developed world. Poussin's painting addresses with potency and directness the universal message of human mortality: through the rhythmic beauty of the compositional line and passages of resplendent, even joyous, colour, Poussin allows us to contemplate and engage with the most natural and inevitable of events in human existence.


Gundolfo or Gundulf was a teacher of heretical Christian doctrines in the early 11th century. Of Italian origin, he turned up in the bishopric of Cambrai-Arras in northern France (south of Lille) in 1025 when Bishop Gerard of Florennes discovered that there were heretics in the diocese.The heretics rejected the sacraments of the Catholic Church and claimed a certain righteousness by which alone men could be purified and approach salvation. Gundolfo taught that salvation was achieved through a virtuous life of abandoning the world, restraining the appetites of the flesh, earning food by the labor of hands, doing no injury to anyone, and extending charity to everyone of their own faith. They claimed that Gundolfo's teachings were based on the Gospels rather than on Catholic Church dogma.

Following a lengthy sermon by Gerard, the heretics recanted their errors and were received back into the Church. The unknown source of Gundolfo’s teachings may be compared to Catharism and to the Waldensians. His ultimate fate is unknown.

List of Christian martyrs

This is a list of reputed martyrs of Christianity. The list can never be fully complete, and it includes only notable people with Wikipedia articles. Not all Christian denominations accept every figure on this list as a martyr or Christian; see the linked articles for fuller discussion. In many denominations of Christianity, martyrdom is considered a direct path to sainthood and many names on this list are dog as saints in one or more denomination.

Mass in the Catholic Church

The Mass, known more fully as the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the central liturgical ritual in the Catholic Church where the bread and wine are consecrated and become the body and blood of Christ. As defined by the Church at the Council of Trent, in the Mass, "The same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross, is present and offered in an unbloody manner." The Church describes the Holy Mass as "the source and summit of the Christian life". It teaches that through consecration by an ordained priest the bread and wine become the sacrificial body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ as the sacrifice on Calvary made truly present once again on the altar. The Catholic Church permits only baptised members in the state of grace (Catholics who have recently confessed all mortal sins) to receive Christ in the Eucharist.Many of the Catholic Church's other sacraments are administered in the framework of the Holy Mass, such as First Communion, Confirmation, Holy Orders, and Holy Matrimony. The term "Mass" is generally used within the Latin Rite's celebrations of the Eucharist, while the various Eastern Rites use terms such as "Divine Liturgy", "Holy Qurbana", and "Badarak", in accordance with each one's tradition. Since the publication of Pope Benedict XVI's 2007 motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, the Roman Rite has been classified into two forms: the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, which uses the liturgy of the Missal issued by Pope John XXIII in 1962, and the Ordinary Form, which uses the Missal revised by Pope Paul VI in 1969.

The term "Mass" is derived from the concluding words of the Roman Rite Mass in Latin: "Ite, missa est" ("Go; it is the dismissal"). The Late Latin word missa substantively corresponds to the classical Latin word missio. In antiquity, missa simply meant "dismissal". In Christian usage, however, it gradually took on a deeper meaning. The word "dismissal" has come to imply a mission.The Roman Rite Mass is the predominant form used in the Catholic Church and the focus of this article. For information on the theology of the Eucharist and on the Eucharistic liturgy of other Christian denominations, see "Mass (liturgy)", "Eucharist" and "Eucharistic theology". For information on the history and of development of the Mass see Eucharist and Origin of the Eucharist.

Mea culpa

Mea culpa is a Latin phrase that means "through my fault" and is an acknowledgement of having done wrong.

Grammatically, meā culpā is in the ablative case, with an instrumental meaning.

The phrase comes from a prayer of confession of sinfulness, known as the Confiteor, used in the Roman Rite at the beginning of Mass or when receiving the sacrament of Penance.

The expression is used also as an admission of having made a mistake that should have been avoided, and may be accompanied by beating the breast as in its use in a religious context.


Oblation, meaning an offering (Late Latin oblatio, from offerre, oblatum, to offer), is a term used, particularly in ecclesiastical use, for a solemn offering or presentation to God.

Outline of the Catholic Church

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to the Catholic Church:

Catholicism – largest denomination of Christianity. Catholicism encompasses the body of the Catholic faith, its theologies and doctrines, its liturgical, ethical, spiritual, and behavioral characteristics, as well as a religious people as a whole.


A sacrament is a Christian rite recognized as of particular importance and significance. There are various views on the existence and meaning of such rites. Many Christians consider the sacraments to be a visible symbol of the reality of God, as well as a means by which God enacts his grace. Many denominations, including the Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist, and Reformed, hold to the definition of sacrament formulated by Augustine of Hippo: an outward sign of an inward grace that has been instituted by Jesus Christ. Sacraments signify God's grace in a way that is outwardly observable to the participant.The Catholic Church and the Old Catholic Church recognise seven sacraments: Baptism, Reconciliation (Penance or Confession), Eucharist (or Holy Communion), Confirmation, Marriage (Matrimony), Holy Orders, and Anointing of the Sick (Extreme Unction). The Eastern Orthodox Church and Oriental Orthodox Church also believe that there are seven major sacraments, but apply the corresponding Greek word, μυστήριον (mysterion) also to rites that in the Western tradition are called sacramentals and to other realities, such as the Church itself. Many Protestant denominations, such as those within the Reformed tradition, identify two sacraments instituted by Christ, the Eucharist (or Holy Communion) and Baptism. The Lutheran sacraments include these two, often adding Confession (and Absolution) as a third sacrament. Anglican and Methodist teaching is that "there are two Sacraments ordained of Christ our Lord in the Gospel, that is to say, Baptism and the Supper of the Lord," and that "those five commonly called Sacraments, that is to say, Confirmation, Penance, Orders, Matrimony, and Extreme Unction, are not to be counted for Sacraments of the Gospel."Some traditions do not observe any of the rites, or hold that they are simply reminders or commendable practices that do not impart actual grace—not sacraments but "ordinances" pertaining to certain aspects of the Christian faith.

Sacrament of Penance

The Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation (commonly called Penance, Reconciliation, or Confession) is one of the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church (called sacred mysteries in the Eastern Catholic Churches), in which the faithful obtain absolution for the sins committed against God and neighbour and are reconciled with the community of the Church. By this sacrament Catholics believe they are freed from sins committed after baptism. The sacrament of Penance is considered the normal way to be absolved from mortal sin, by which one would otherwise possibly condemn oneself to Hell. Catholic theology regarding the forgiveness of sins debates whether Christ at the judgment of the individual after their death would allow those with unconfessed mortal sins a chance to repent and save themselves – especially those who had not made plans to confess, or were not mentally ill, coerced, or suicidal (which the Church has said all would reduce one's culpability). While persons with certain unconfessed mortal sins that were under some form of censure still at their death might not be allowed a Catholic Funeral Mass and burial rites, and while Catholics with unconfessed mortal sins may not receive Communion (unless in some circumstances, ameliorating factors were present), these matters, though related, are not the same as whether an individual with unconfessed serious sins is condemned to Hell.

As Scriptural basis for this sacrament, the Catechism of the Catholic Church says: "The words bind and loose mean: whomever you exclude from your communion, will be excluded from communion with God; whomever you receive anew into your communion, God will welcome back" (1445; John 20:23).

The Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation is also known as "Penance", "Reconciliation", and "Confession".The sacrament has four elements: three on the part of the penitent (contrition, confession, and satisfaction) and one on the part of the minister of the sacrament (absolution).Catholics distinguish between two types of sin. Mortal sins are a "grave violation of God's law" that "turns man away from God". Someone who is aware of having committed mortal sins must repent of having done so and then confess them in order to benefit from the sacrament. Venial sins, the kind that "does not set us in direct opposition to the will and friendship of God", can be remitted by contrition and reception of other sacraments but they too, "constituting a moral disorder", "are rightly and usefully declared in confession".Every sin involves "an unhealthy attachment to creatures", purification from which is called the temporal punishment for sin (as opposed to the eternal punishment merited by mortal sin). The satisfaction required of the penitent is not an essential part of the sacrament, because the primary effect of remission of guilt and eternal punishment is obtained without it; but it is an integral part, because it is required for obtaining the secondary effect of this purification or remission of temporal punishment.The 1983 Code of Canon Law states: "A priest alone is the minister of the sacrament of penance." While in the English language, the term priest usually means someone received into the second of the three Holy Orders (also called the presbyterate) but not into the highest, that of bishop, the Latin text underlying this statement uses the Latin term sacerdos, which comprises both bishops and, in the common English sense, priests. To refer exclusively to priests in the more common English sense, Latin uses the word presbyter. In order to be able to be absolved validly from sin, the priest (sacerdos) must have the faculty to do so granted to him either by canon law or by the competent Church authority. (In the ordinary course, most penitents assume that the confessor purporting to exercise this faculty is entitled to do so. In an instance where that belief is legitimately misplaced, the Church supplies that jurisdiction under canon 144 "to protect the 'innocent' faithful".)

Sacramental character

According to Roman Catholic Church teaching, a sacramental character is an indelible spiritual mark (the meaning of the word character in Latin) imprinted by three of the seven sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders.

Sacraments of initiation

The sacraments of initiation (also called the “mysteries of initiation”) are the three sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist As such, they are distinguished from the Sacraments of healing (Anointing of the sick and Sacrament of Penance and from the Sacraments of Service (Marriage and Ordination)

Sacraments, rites, and liturgies of the Catholic Church
liturgical hours
Other liturgical services
Liturgical literature
Liturgical language

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