The Sacraments are signs of Jesus taking care of his sheep. This is episode 23, The Seven Sacraments.
Hello there, I want to welcome back once again to another lesson of All About My Catholic Faith. Hey, If you remember from our last lesson, I told you that things are really starting to get exciting in our lessons. We are on lesson number 23, so we've come a long way in learning what the Church has taught and what God has taught us throughout all of these years. Today we're going to start talking specifically about the Sacraments of the Church. We're going to learn an overview of the Sacraments, what the Sacraments are, what they do for us, and some consequences if we don’t stay in God’s grace.
Make sure you listen to this week’s lesson so you can learn a bit more about the Sacraments and also how you can get a free copy of Trent Horn’s book, Why We’re Catholic.
I’m very glad that you’re joining me as we continue on our journey to learn the teachings of Jesus and his Church that he started 2,000 years ago. I’m also super excited to have my son, Christopher join me again. So Hey Christopher, thanks for joining me. You got it! How have you been since our last episode? Did you get over your cold? Pretty much. I’m doing pretty good, just spent the last couple days at the coast, so you know it’s hard to go wrong there. That sounds good.
Let's start off as we always do with a few questions for you to think about during our lesson.
What are some things that Jesus does for his sheep?
What is a Sacrament?
Why do we need signs?
How can we lose the life that we received at our baptism?
Now that you have those questions in your mind let's get right into this lesson about the Sacraments with our first reading from the Holy Bible.
This is a reading from the Old Testament from The Book of Ezekiel chapter 34: verses 11 through 16.
For thus says the Lord GOD: Look! I myself will search for my sheep and examine them.
As a shepherd examines his flock while he himself is among his scattered sheep, so will I examine my sheep. I will deliver them from every place where they were scattered on the day of dark clouds. I will lead them out from among the peoples and gather them from the lands; I will bring them back to their own country and pasture them upon the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and every inhabited place in the land. In good pastures I will pasture them; on the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing land. There they will lie down on good grazing ground; in rich pastures they will be pastured on the mountains of Israel. I myself will pasture my sheep; I myself will give them rest—oracle of the Lord GOD. The lost I will search out, the strays I will bring back, the injured I will bind up, and the sick I will heal; but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd them in judgment.
All right, very good. So do you know who loves you more than anyone else in the world? Uh, you and mom? Well, of course, we love you, your grandparents love you, your aunts and uncles love you, but our Lord God loves you, loves each one of us, more than anyone can even get close to understanding. Just as a shepherd in the field loves and cares for his sheep, God is always there to take care of us and he will never leave us alone. He's always doing something for us even when we don't realize it. You know, God wants us to have some signs in order for us to know that he is there and that he’s doing something for us. We have eyes, we have ears, we have noses, so we can see, hear, smell and touch signs that God sends our way. We often may feel that we need to hear, feel, or see signs that God is doing something for us because again we cannot actually see him directly. We need signs for us to understand that he is there and loves us all the time. Signs usually indicate something else is near. Smoke is a sign of fire, dark clouds are signs of rain, a siren, and flashing red lights are signs of an emergency, and a flag is a sign of one’s country. These signs and other signs are there to indicate something else that we can’t see, hear, or feel at this moment.
The signs that God gives us are called the Sacraments. Sacraments are the signs that God gives to you and to me to show us that Jesus is working in our souls to produce grace. A sacrament is a sign of grace and of Jesus Christ in three different ways. Grace was made possible, first of all, when Jesus suffered and died on the cross for us. This was a sign of grace and Jesus from the past. Presently, we have grace in our life because we are children of God from receiving Sanctifying Grace for the first time at our baptism. We see grace in the third way when we see the results of grace when we will be able to share in the glory of the risen Christ when we make it to heaven.
You know in John chapter 10, verse 10 Jesus said, “I came that they may have life and have it more abundantly.” So just like the shepherd wants to help the sheep, Jesus came so that we can have even more life, more happiness, more love and everything else that is good for us. Once that God has given us his life, remember that is Sanctifying Grace when we are baptized, he takes care of it and each one of us as one of his sheep. He feeds us, he protects us, he heals us, and he wants us to make it to heaven to be with him and to be with all the saints. The sacraments are indeed signs, but they're not only just signs, they are also the actions of our blessed Lord that give us or increase in us the life of God, in our souls.
By God giving us the Sacraments, by us receiving the sacraments, we are strengthened, we become holier, we become even better children of God. So again, a Sacrament is an outward sign that was instituted, or put in place in order to give us Grace. Remember the first time that you received Grace, Sanctifying Grace, is when you were baptized.
I think I got that. It’s helpful to see that the Sacraments are signs of something else in our life. That makes sense.
How many Sacraments are there?
There are seven Sacraments. Remember the Catholic Church was the Christian Church founded by Jesus Christ, and it has lasted for all these years. The Catholic Church is still the One True Church. The One, Holy, catholic, and Apostolic Church. It’s the only Christian church, besides the Eastern Orthodox Churches, that has all seven Sacraments. So there you go, we have seven Sacraments and they start off with Baptism when we receive Sanctifying Grace. Baptism normally comes within a week or so after we’re born into our human life, and Baptism is being Born Again in the life of Christ. The other Sacraments come along during our life to help us in our personal life and our life in Christ’s Church.
After Baptism, we grow into young adulthood, we receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. Confirmation gives us the power to become adults in the life of grace. The grace that we receive at our Confirmation gives us the strength to profess our faith even when we are persecuted or we face other difficult times. This grace will allow us to be better examples for others in our life.
Every time we receive the Holy Eucharist, the body, blood, soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ, we get even more grace. We need food to be properly nourished in our life, and the grace we receive from the Holy Eucharist nourishes our love for God and for each other. This grace is also important to help us not to be selfish and not to love yourself too much. The Eucharist is truly the Flesh and Blood of Jesus and absolutely nourishes our soul.
The next Sacrament is the Sacrament of Penance or Confession. When you’re sick or wounded, you’re often helped out by the doctor with his care and medicine that may be given to you. The Grace that you receive during Confession will help you cure the damage that has been done to your soul after you commit sins similar to how the doctor heals your body. This Grace will also help protect you from committing further serious sins, similar to how the flu shot may help keep you from getting sick.
During your life when you get older and need extra care and attention, you may receive more medical care or even special living arrangements to help you live more comfortably. The next Sacrament is Extreme Unction or Anointing of the Sick. This Sacrament will help restore the health of your soul, similar to extra nursing attention can help your body. The grace received during Anointing of the Sick will help you to accept sickness and even death as a cross to be embraced and will help you accept the will of God concerning your life. How do we receive the Anointing of the Sick? We receive the Anointing of the Sick when we are very sick or near-death. A priest will give us a special blessing with the special anointed oil to allow us to get more grace at that time.
If you become a priest or deacon and receive Holy Orders, this is another Sacrament and you will receive more Grace. This Grace helps the priest to fulfill his very important and sacred duties as well as to help him be a very good priest.
When you get married and get married in the Church, the Sacrament you receive is the Sacrament of Matrimony. You get more grace at this time. This grace helps married people to put up with each other’s defects and imperfections and helps them to fulfill their duties of the married life, especially bringing children into the world and raising them to be children of God.
So, all Seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church give us Grace that helps builds us, make us stronger, and make us holier in this life so that we can make it to heaven. I have to tell you though, that you only receive the fullness of the grace from the Sacraments if you are properly disposed of receiving that Grace.
What do you mean by that, I’m not sure I understand that completely?
For example, let’s say you go to Confession. In order to receive the Grace during Confession, you need to be truly sorry for your sins and also have a determination or firm purpose of amendment not to commit that sin again. If someone went to confession and did not intend to stay away from that sin, or were not sorry for committing their sins, that person would not be properly disposed to receive the grace. God will still pour out the waters of Grace, but if a person is not truly sorry, then the pipe that the waters of Grace would flow to the person through would be clogged so the Grace may not reach the person. Does that help?
Ya, I think I understand that better now.
Great? Also let’s say a person is in a state of mortal sin and goes to a Sacrament, whether it's to get married, receive Confirmation, or receive the Eucharist, that person will not receive the Grace associated with that Sacrament.
We have a special name for two of the sacraments. The Sacrament of Baptism and the Sacrament of Penance are called the Sacraments of the Dead. The reason they're called Sacraments of the dead is that those sacraments give us life when we do not have God's life in us. So before we were baptized, we were not children of God, so we were basically dead, our soul was dead. When we receive Baptism we receive Sanctifying Grace. We are infused with God's life and we are brought back to life. The same goes, if we have committed mortal sin we have put up a roadblock and we are no longer in the state of grace, we are not any longer in God's good graces or in his life so we are dead, our soul is dead. When we go to confession and we confess our sins and we are forgiven by Jesus through the priest, we are then brought back to life, our soul is brought back to life.
Confirmation, Holy Eucharist, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders and Matrimony are the other five Sacraments. These are called Sacraments of the living because the purpose of those Sacraments is to give us more grace than we already have. Remember we can only get more grace through these Sacraments of the Living if we are in a state of grace with no mortal sins when we receive these Sacraments.
So, If we receive one of the Sacraments of the living, and we’re not in a state of grace, do I understand correctly that we don’t receive the grace, but do we still receive that Sacrament?
Terrific question! The Sacrament would still be valid, but would not have the full benefit of having the associated grace until that person went to confession to be restored to a State of Grace. Also, a person who receives a Sacrament of the Living without being in a State of Grace, that person would commit another mortal sin that is called sacrilege.
Here is an important thing about the Sacraments. Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders are Sacraments that can only be received once in your life. These Sacraments put an imprint on your soul, an imprint that can never be taken away. They can be dulled by sin, but when we go to confession and we get sanctifying Grace back fully, then those imprints of Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders are made bright again. So, when we are baptized, when we are confirmed, or when we get holy orders to become a priest, those Sacraments can only be received once.
Student: Can we lose God's life of grace?
We definitely can lose God's life or Grace when we sin especially and most importantly if we commit a mortal sin. Committing a mortal sin, remember is when we are putting a wall between you and Jesus, between you and God. It's basically like holding your hand up and saying I would rather sin than live the life with you Lord. So, of course, you don't want to do that. If you do choose to put up the wall between you and God, God won’t be happy, but he will let you choose to do so because he has given us free will.
Student: So, If we lose God's grace, are we able to get it back or is that wall permanent?
Well, thank God yes we can get it back. Remember Jesus died on the cross to save us from our sins. It is up to us to stay in his good favor to keep his life and to keep his grace in us by not committing sins throughout our life. Remember when we do commit sins, which we all do course, it’s not the end of the world because Jesus provides for us the Sacrament of Penance which is when we go to confession to confess our sins to the priest and we get to hear those wonderful words from the priest, “I absolve you of all of your sins.” At that point, we get God's grace back in our souls again, immediately, just like when we were baptized and we received God's grace. When we go to confession and we confess all of our sins we again receive God's grace immediately. This is such a great gift, such a great gift. Always remember, as I said in a previous lesson, go to confession often because it will help you, it will definitely help you.
Student: What's the name of the grace that sacraments give us?
The Sacraments, all seven Sacraments give us Sacramental Grace. We receive Sanctifying Grace when we were baptized and then we will receive Sacramental Grace every time we receive another one of the Sacraments in our life.
Student: You talked about the two different types of Sacraments, Sacraments of the Living and Sacraments of the Dead. Why again can you receive the Sacraments of the Dead only once?
The Sacraments of the Dead are Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders. When you receive one of those Sacraments, your soul is imprinted with a special spiritual mark that is called a character, which God has designed to last forever. This character is a mark on your soul similar to putting a seal on soft wax. This stamp puts the image of Christ on your soul and gives you a share of the priestly powers of Jesus.
Student: Got it. What powers do you get?
I meant to go over that earlier, so I’m glad you asked. At baptism, you receive the power to share in the Mass and to receive the other Sacraments. When you’re confirmed, you receive the power to spiritually fight for Christ and with Christ against the enemies of the Church. If you are called and answer the call to enter the priesthood and receive the Sacrament of Holy Orders, then the power you receive is a full share in the priesthood of Christ, the ability and power to offer Mass, to forgive sins, and more.
Good questions, once again!
Let’s have a couple more short readings from the Bible. This first reading will be from the Gospel of Saint Matthew from chapter 28: vs 18, 19, and 20. This will tell us that the Lord will promise that he will be with his Apostles and his Church when he sent them out to give the sacraments in his name.
Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”
The next reading is when the Lord promised to be with us and to help us. This is also from Saint Matthew's Gospel chapter 11: verses 25 through 30.
At that time Jesus said in reply, “I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him. “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”
Next week we'll start talking in detail about each of the Sacraments. Next week we'll talk about the Sacrament of baptism. I know you know a lot about baptism because I told you about it already. I certainly hope you’ve been baptized, but if not you can definitely can. Feel free to send me questions to our website AllAboutMyCatholicFaith.com if you have questions on how to become baptized in the Catholic Church.
Remember there are seven sacraments. A great way to learn more about the Catholic Church is by listening to Catholic radio. I've learned so much by listening to Catholic radio and I'm blessed to have Catholic radio in my area. If you have a Catholic radio station in your area, I really encourage you to listen to the Catholic radio station in your area. You will be able to learn so much when people call in to ask questions when the host answers those questions. If you don't have Catholic radio in your area and you have the internet or a phone you can listen to a great Catholic radio network called the Relevant Radio. Relevant Radio has many many stations throughout the country, but If you're not in an area where you can receive those stations, you can listen online at relevantradio.com or on your mobile device by downloading the Relevant Radio app. The app is wonderful, it has prayers, it has shows you can stream later or you can listen live as the shows are happening. Relevant Radio has helped many many people increase their faith and even bring people into the Catholic Church who are not Catholic.