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Faith/Spirituality Forum: The Sacraments

by Catherine Frakas 18 May 2001

The Sacraments QUESTION from John Binder August 19, 2001 I am a Lutheran and we teach that only Baptism and Communion are sacraments because only these two (1) have been commanded by God, (2) have a physical element connected with them and (3) through them the participant receives a blessing as promised by God.
Since the Catholic Church has seven sacraments, and the other five lack one or more of the three criteria mentioned above, I presume that the definition of the word sacrament is different from that which we have. What is this definition?
And how do the other five relate to Baptism and Communion?
This is something I have always wondered about, and, having just discovered this wonderful website, I thought I would ask.
I have also wondered, since we believe in the real presence of Christ in, with and under the elements, could we receive the sacrament in the Catholic Church? Thank you.
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, OLSM on August 26, 2001 Dear Mr. Binder:
Our definition of Sacrament is essentially the same: Divine institution (same as your #1), the outward sign (same as your #2), the inward grace (same as your #3).
The problem is that you are in error about the other five lacking these criteria. All Seven Sacraments were instituted by Christ personally, all seven are an outward sign, and all seven impart an inward grace (blessing). If all seven did not have these three qualities we would not have seven sacraments. But all seven do have these qualities and the Church has always taught them.
You need to remember that the Catholic Church is the original Church. We are the caretakers and guardians of the faith of the Apostles. The Early Church Fathers (who were all Catholic since the Catholic Church was the only Church in existence) all taught and knew seven sacraments. Why? because Jesus and the Apostles taught seven sacraments.
That being the case, NO ONE living 1500 years after the fact, or 2000 years after the fact, has the competence or the authority to change doctrine. Even the Pope cannot do that.
Any thorough study of history will reveal that the seven sacraments have ALWAYS been so.
Without going into time-consuming detail here are just a few references show the Seven Sacraments are Scriptural:
Baptism: John 3:5; Acts 2:38; Mt 28:18-19; Mt 16:15-19

Confirmation: Acts 19:5-6; Acts 8:14-17

Eucharist: John 6:48ff; 1 Cor 10:16; 1 Cor 11:28-29

Penance: John 20:10-22; Mt 18:18

Marriage: Mark 10:7-12; Eph 5:22-32

Holy Orders: Acts 20:38; Heb 5:1-4; Luke 22:19; John 20:19-23; Acts 14:22; Titus 1:5; 2 Tim 1:6; 1 Tim 4:14

Anointing of the Sick: Mk 6:12-13; James 5:14-15
Further testimony comes from early Church Fathers who knew ALL SEVEN Sacraments such as Tertullian and St. Cyril of Jerusalem. Plus St. Theophilus of Antioch talks of Confirmation as a Sacrament as early as 181 AD; Confession is mentioned in the Didache(cir. 140 ad); Anointing of the Sick by Origen (cir. 224 ad); etc.
ALL documentary evidence within the Bible and outside of the Bible prove the Seven Sacraments. For those arrogant Monks of the 16th century who invented their own man-made doctrines, I would say, Show me documentary evidence that the early church interpreted the Bible the way you do? There is no such evidence.
But the Catholic Church has truck loads of documentary evidence to prove that its doctrines are apostolic.
More can be read at the following URL:
As for the Real Presence, Lutherans do not believe in the nature of the Real Presence that Catholic do. I believe the theological word for the Lutheran belief is consubstantiation. This position is not scriptural, not is it consistent with what the Church has always taught from the beginning. The term that was eventually used to describe what the Church has always taught is transsubstantiation.
Among several reasons, because the Lutheran belief is insufficient and not in concert with the Catholic belief, Lutherans cannot partake of Catholic Communion, and Catholics cannot partake of communion in a Lutheran fellowship.
The relationship of the Sacremants are that:
Baptism initiates the person into the Kingdom. They are born-again into the kingdom of God. It is also a sign of the New Covenent, like circumcision was a sign of the Old Covenant. We are also given the seven gifts of the Spirits listed in Isaiah 11:2: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord (reverence). The fullness of these gifts in our lives is determined by our merits, but without these gifts in some measure we would not be able to live the Christian life at all for, as an example, we would be unable to understand, or to have the knowledge and wisdom to know how to live the Christ-life.

Confirmation is the personal profession of faith, re-affirming one's baptismal promises, and a further infusion of the Holy Spirit and an intensifying of the Seven Gift in Isaiah 11:2 enabling us to mature in the faith and live the Christ-life in growing maturity. Charismatics wrongly believe that this take place at some other time as the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and will cite Acts 8 where Peter lays hands to impart the Holy Spirit as evidence.
Actually, this is a bishop conferring Confirmation. It is at Confirmation that we are given a renewed filling of the Holy Spirit, a booster shot of the Seven Gifts of the Spirit, and empowerment with the Charism gifts of the Spirit that Charismatics talk about. Confirmation empowers us to be able to live the Christ-life.

Eucharist is our life. Without it we have no life. (John 6)

Penance restores our life when we lose it through mortal sin. It renews and heals our wounds.

Marriage establishes the foundation of society and the economy God has institutes for the raising and education of the Children in the ways of God. This requires special grace to accomplish. It ensures that future generations will learn to love God.

Holy Orders imparts the special graces that are needed to shepherd God's flock. It also imparts the power of consecrating the Host. Lutheran ministers, by the way, do not have this power and thus Lutheran Eucharist is merely bread. There is no Real Presence there since their was no valid priest to consecrate the Eucharist to provide for the miracle of the Real Presence.

Anointing of the Sick imparts special graces for the sick and dying.
God has provided for all aspects of our lives in these Sacraments. Through these special graces we may live a good holy life and may live forever with Him in heaven.
We have Sacraments for initiation into God's Kingdom, empowerment to live the life will by the King, the bread the King gives us to nourish our lives, the healing and reconciliation with the King and our brother when we fall and sin, the bonding of family with the King's blessing to perpetuate God's people and teaching, the King's helpers in the patriarch (father) to teach and to lead and protect the flock and also to bring the Sacraments to the flock, and the King's consolation to comfort, heal, and forgive when we are sick, and expecially when we are about to die.
We are the King's kids and the King takes care of us.
All of human experience is covered in these Sacraments. And we NEED these Sacraments for the special graces they impart to live a holy life.
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