The Sacramental Nature of the Church

By Jack Weekly

A sacrament is an effective sacred sign of grace. Jesus is responsible for the creation of the sacraments, as well as adding them to the Church’s teachings. All sacraments include some kind of ceremony that represents the grace received during them. Each sacrament rewards those that receive it by greatly improving their faith and relationship with God.

There are two types of Catholic Churches, the Eastern Church, and the Western Church (which we are part of). Eastern Churches have a different version of the sacraments. These are called “mysteries.” Just as there are 7 sacraments in Western Churches, there are 7 matching mysteries in Eastern Churches. The Eastern Church also believes that the redemption of man is still happening today, rather than just happening in the past. They want to regain their  original holiness and relationship with God by receiving the mysteries. They see the mysteries as the best way to strengthen their bond with God and redeem humanity.

What is a sacrament?

The Eastern Church


The Sacramental Economy

A big part of our salvation is the sacramental economy. In a real-world economy, we trade money for goods and services. The sacramental economy is a bit different. It involves receiving grace from the sacraments and liturgy. This brings us closer to salvation and togetherness with God.  All the sacraments we receive throughout our life contribute to our journey to heaven.

The sacraments grant the grace that they signify. In other words, they symbolize the sacramental grace that helps us carry out the purpose of the sacraments. Grace is the free and undeserved help that God gives us that helps us answer his call to follow him. For example, matrimony gives the married couple the grace to have a successful and faithful marriage. It gives us the ability to participate in the life of God. Grace also helps to make our souls perfect so that we can live with God in heaven. By preparing for the sacraments that we receive throughout our lives, we are also preparing for eternal life with God. This makes the sacraments a necessary part of our salvation.

Jesus in the Sacraments

Jesus is the living, ever-present sacrament of God. He is present in every sacrament that Catholics receive. When we were baptized, it was Jesus himself that baptized us. The Church can be considered the “instrument” of Christ, allowing him to directly grant us sacramental grace. When we celebrate Mass, Jesus is there, listening to our songs of worship. When we receive the Eucharist, we are receiving Christ. As God’s instrument, the Church brings about communion between God and man, through rituals such as Mass and the sacraments. This brings us even closer to salvation. The Church has a sacramental view of  the world. This means that it sees the invisible in the visible and the grace of God working through ordinary people. This means that it looks for God in every part of life. A completely normal person could be seen as a faithful lover of Christ. In a way, the Church is a sacrament. It represents the grace we receive from the Trinity. The Church contains and grants us this grace when we receive the sacraments.

The sacraments are what bring about our redemption. Starting with our Baptism, we receive the sacraments throughout our lives to obtain the grace we need to enter heaven. Jesus acts through the sacraments, directly granting us this grace. The sacraments seem like only physical words and actions on the surface, but Jesus is working through them each time they’re performed. When we carry out the sacraments, we use signs and symbols throughout the ceremonies. These allow us to represent and communicate the divine nature of God through the use of humanly objects. For example, the water in Baptism represents the cleansing of sins. Another example is the bread and wine in the Eucharist. During the Eucharist, these representations of Jesus’ body and blood actually become what they symbolize. The sacraments’ main purpose is to bless us, build up the Body of Christ, and give glory to God. Not only do they tell us how to practice our faith, but how to nourish and express it as well. The sacraments also allow us to experience Christ’s presence in our lives. They’re the actions of the Holy Spirit carried out by the Church.

Redemption Through the Sacraments

There are many different ways to pray. When we go to Mass, we celebrate the liturgy, which is a form of prayer. Prayer is an offering, request, or expression of gratitude to God. There are four main forms of prayer. First, are prayers of blessing and adoration, in which we praise God. Second, are prayers of petition, where we ask for God for something, such as forgiveness. Third, are the prayers of intercession, where we ask God to do something for someone else. Finally, are the prayers of thanksgiving, in which we give thanks for what God has done for us. Prayer is essential for any follower of Christ. It’s a core part of our faith that we need to follow. The liturgy and sacraments are closely linked through Mass. The Eucharist has a very close relationship with the liturgy, both taking up the majority of Mass. When we’re at Mass, those are the two things we should pay the most attention to. Another type of prayer we can practice is personal prayer. By finding a quiet place for meditation, we can open our mind to God and have a conversation with him. This powerful form of prayer deeply strengthens our bond with God.