168. What do we understand about the sacraments?

Sacraments (from the Latin “sacramentum”, which means “signs of salvation” or “means of salvation”) are acts instituted by Jesus Christ. The word sacrament itself does not appear in the Bible.

The sacraments include baptism and the Lord’s Supper. He illustrates His grace and assures us of it through these visible signs.

The sacraments affirm that our salvation is based solely on Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross.

In a sense, the sacraments are the pledge that God gives us. The pledge is not the promised thing itself, but something that guarantees it. The visible signs – water, bread, wine – prove that God gives us the full grace of reconciliation, rebirth and eternal life because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. If a sacrament is really to be a divine pledge, it must be instituted through Jesus Christ Himself.

(The Catholic Church teaches seven sacraments: 1st Baptism, 2nd Confirmation, 3rd Eucharist [Mass], 4th Penance, 5th Ordination, 6th Marriage, 7th Anointing of the sick)