“The purpose of the sacraments is to make people holy, to build up the Body of Christ, and, finally, to give worship to God; but being signs they also have a teaching function. They not only presuppose faith, but by words and objects they also nourish, strengthen, and express it; that is why they are called ‘sacraments of faith.’ They do indeed impart grace, but, in addition, the very act of celebrating them disposes the faithful most effectively to receive this grace in a fruitful manner, to worship God rightly, and to practice charity.
It is therefore of the highest importance that the faithful should readily understand the sacramental signs and should, with great eagerness, frequent those sacraments that were instituted to nourish the Christian life.” (Constitution On the Sacred Liturgy #59).
There are seven sacraments: Baptism, Eucharist, Reconciliation, Confirmation, Marriage, Holy Orders and Anointing of the Sick. Sacraments were instituted by Christ and given to the church as those privileged moments where we enter into a deeper relationship with God. The visible signs by which the sacraments are celebrated signify and make present the graces proper to each sacrament.
Sacraments always bear fruit in those who receive them with the proper disposition. Baptism, Eucharist and Confirmation are called the sacraments of initiation because through them we are fully incorporated in Christ and his church. Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick are referred to sacraments of healing because they restore our friendship with Christ damaged through sin or lead to physical and spiritual renewal following sickness. Marriage and Holy Orders are sacraments of vocation because they empower us to renew the Lord and his church through a commitment to our chosen vocation in life.