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 (CCC, 1131). When we think about the definition, we break it into three parts:
- An outward sign: Because we are humans, the Lord uses material symbols that we humans can understand and/or perceive. These are the “things” we use (water and oil, words, and gestures) to confer a sacrament.
- Instituted by Christ: Jesus ‘created’ the seven sacraments by His actions during His life until death on the cross. When He ascended into heaven, that was the end to the creating of sacraments.
- To give grace: the essential purpose of every sacrament is to give grace.
The Sacraments are divided into three groups: