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Sacramental Theology: Getting Started

Catholic life is geared around the seven sacraments, which confer grace on the believer. This is an overview of the historical development of the Catholic sacraments and their theological significance in the modern world.

This Guide

This guide provides a number of useful resources.

  • Finding Books--search for print or electronic books, located in a library or online
  • Finding Articles--good places to start when searching for journal articles
  • Websites--links to websites that may provide supplementary material

Note: Many of the electronic resources listed here are limited to use by members of  The University of St. Thomas community (faculty, staff and students). If you are using the Guide off-campus, it will ask for a brief login to identify yourself as a member of The University of St. Thomas community before you can use these resources.

Sacraments - Catechism of the Catholic Church

From The Catechism of the Catholic Church

1131 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.

1132 The Church celebrates the sacraments as a priestly community structured by the baptismal priesthood and the priesthood of ordained ministers.

1133 The Holy Spirit prepares the faithful for the sacraments by the Word of God and the faith which welcomes that word in well-disposed hearts. Thus the sacraments strengthen faith and express it.

1134 The fruit of sacramental life is both personal and ecclesial. For every one of the faithful on the one hand, this fruit is life for God in Christ Jesus; for the Church, on the other, it is an increase in charity and in her mission of witness.

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Local Church: Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis / Office of Worship

Seven Sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church

The seven Catholic Sacraments are ceremonies that point to what is sacred, significant and important for Christians. They are special occasions for experiencing God's saving presence.

The Seven Catholic Sacraments



The Latin word sacramentum means "a sign of the sacred." The seven sacraments are ceremonies that point to what is sacred, significant and important for Christians. They are special occasions for experiencing God's saving presence. That's what theologians mean when they say that sacraments are at the same time signs and instruments of God's grace.

If you learn more about the sacraments, you can celebrate them more fully. To learn more about the individual sacraments, please follow the links below. You'll find easy-to-understand articles and a good sample of common questions and answers.

In addition to these links, don't miss the special Sacraments issue of St. Anthony Messenger magazine.

For Catholics, the Sacrament of Baptism is the first step in a lifelong journey of commitment and discipleship. Whether we are baptized as infants or adults, Baptism is the Church's way of celebrating and enacting the embrace of God.

Catholics believe the Eucharist, or Communion, is both a sacrifice and a meal. We believe in the real presence of Jesus, who died for our sins. As we receive Christ's Body and Blood, we also are nourished spiritually and brought closer to God.


The Catholic Sacrament of Reconciliation (also known as Penance, or Penance and Reconciliation) has three elements: conversion, confession and celebration. In it we find God's unconditional forgiveness; as a result we are called to forgive others.

Confirmation is a Catholic Sacrament of mature Christian commitment and a deepening of baptismal gifts. It is one of the three Sacraments of Initiation for Catholics. It is most often associated with the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

For Catholics, the Sacrament of Marriage, or Holy Matrimony, is a public sign that one gives oneself totally to this other person. It is also a public statement about God: the loving union of husband and wife speaks of family values and also God's values.

In the Sacrament of Holy Orders, or Ordination, the priest being ordained vows to lead other Catholics by bringing them the sacraments (especially the Eucharist), by proclaiming the Gospel, and by providing other means to holiness.

The Catholic Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, formerly known as Last Rites or Extreme Unction, is a ritual of healing appropriate not only for physical but also for mental and spiritual sickness.
(from AmericanCatholic.org Website)

Subject Guide

Curt LeMay
Contact:
Library Director / Theological Librarian
The Archbishop Ireland Memorial Library
Mail # IRL
Office - 101 Ireland Library
Library Liaison for Theology
Telephone: 651-962-5451
Fax: 651-962-5460
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