What Is Sacrament

Topics: Baptism, Christianity, Sacrament Pages: 8 (2093 words) Published: August 28, 2013

I. Objectives
1.To emphasize the importance of the reception of the seven sacraments to Christian life. 2.To state clearly the definition of the “sacrament”.
3.To realize that the sacraments are symbols of the Church faith and love. 4.To see that in Christ, God’s loving-kindness becomes visible in a great sign, and this love is continued in the Church and celebrated by the people of God in the sacraments.

II. Content

A.Traditional Definition of Sacrament.
According to the Traditional Catholic Definition contained in the different catechism books, Sacrament is an outward sign instituted by Christ to give grace.

B.Essential Elements of Sacraments according to this definition. 1.Sacrament is a sign. It is a visible (outward) sign that puts us into contact with our Lord. The seven ritual sacraments are particular signs that represent particular actions and values of Jesus Christ. These signs re-enact and represents what has taken place in the past. For example, the Eucharist is a symbolic re-enactment of the Last Supper, which is also sacramental and real. Baptism represents conversion and death to sin.

2.Sacrament was instituted by Christ. They are ultimately traceable to Jesus. The seven sacraments highlight the Paschal Mystery, the message of Jesus, the meaning of Jesus. They help us remember what Jesus Christ has done for us, and they enable us to celebrate his glorious deeds today.

3.Sacrament gives grace. One danger in using the term grace is to think of it as something, rather than a living relationship with God. Very simply put, Jesus is grace. Grace is the gift of God’s constant love for us. Grace is God’s free invitation for us to live in union with Him.

C.St. Paul’s Definitions

Like love, there is no standard definition of what sacraments are. A good number of theologians have given their own definitions that gave rise to a diverse manner of understanding them. There are some popular definitions for the seven sacraments:

St. Paul provides the first definition of the sacraments. In the Latin bible, the word “sacramentum” is used to translate the Greek word “mysterion” (mystery). Mysterion is the term used by St. Paul when he referred to God’s hidden plan of always wanting to save, renew, and unite all things in Christ. God’s mystery, according to him, is revealed most perfectly in our savior Jesus Christ, the person who unifies and reconciles us with the Father.

D.St. Augustine’s Definition

St. Augustine’s definition stresses the notion of “sign and symbol”. “Sacraments are signs and symbols instituted by Christ to give grace.” These are not ordinary signs or symbols we encounter. They are sign of sacred reality. They are sacred sign not merely because what they symbolize is a holy thing, but because they make man holy. They are holy signs— a symbol of image or expression—through which the believer can both perceive and receive an invisible grace. The sign or symbol points to the deeper reality of the spiritual world, a world where friendship with God can be realized.

The word “institution” should be clarified completely. It is subject to misinterpretation and confusion. The sacrament as an act of Christ is a fact very clear from the teachings of the Church. What is not clear, however, is the manner of the institution. Some people tend to ask, where can we find it from the bible?

There are two kinds of “institution by Christ”. One is the generic institution which means that Christ determined the meaning, but not the matter and form of the sacraments. He empowered the Church to determine the matter and form of the sacraments. Second, the Specific institution that means that Christ himself determined both the meaning and matter and form. Such distinction cannot be applied absolutely to the sacraments. The safest thing to say is that Christ instituted some sacraments specifically for instance, baptism and Holy Eucharist; while others were...
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