God wants us to share His divine life with us. Because as humans we are body and soul, when God became flesh and dwelt among us, Jesus instituted physical signs that we can experience in and through our bodies by which we can receive His grace and His divine life in our souls. Each of the seven sacraments has a physical and spiritual aspect, engaging our senses and giving life to our souls and redeem our bodies. Through the seven sacraments we enter into the family of God and participate in His divine life.
Sacraments of Initiation
The sacraments of Christian initiation - Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist - lay the foundations of every Christian life. "The sharing in the divine nature given to men through the grace of Christ bears a certain likeness to the origin, development, and nourishing of natural life. The faithful are born anew by Baptism, strengthened by the sacrament of Confirmation, and receive in the Eucharist the food of eternal life. By means of these sacraments of Christian initiation, they thus receive in increasing measure the treasures of the divine life and advance toward the perfection of charity." (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1212).
Water washes, it gives life, and it can bring about death. When a person is baptized they are baptized into the death of Christ, in order to rise in the new life of the Spirit by the death and resurrection of Jesus having been washed from their sins.
"Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit, and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission: 'Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water in the word'" (CCC, 1213).
In Confirmation, the faithful are sealed with the Holy Spirit in order to be more effective witnesses to the Gospel.
"Confirmation perfects Baptismal grace; it is the sacrament which gives the Holy Spirit in order to root us more deeply in the divine filiation, incorporate us more firmly into Christ, strengthen our bond with the Church, associate us more closely with her mission, and help us bear witness to the Christian faith in words accompanied by deeds" (CCC, 1316).
God desires you to be a part of His Family. Jesus Christ offers you His Body and Blood so that you can become united to Him and are truly one in the Son and become His Body, as a member of the Church. He gives you the Eucharist to nourish our souls and to give you strength to live the Christian life.
“Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me" (John 6:53-57).
Sacraments of Healing
The Lord Jesus Christ, physician of our souls and bodies, who forgave the sins of the paralytic and restored him to bodily health, has willed that His Church continue, in the power of the Holy Spirit, His work of healing and salvation, even among her own members. This is the purpose of the two sacraments of healing (CCC, 1421).
Each of us experiences the pain of sin. We all need the mercy and healing of God in order to be made whole again. Christ conquered the eternal effects of sin and death, and now our relationship with God can be restored. On the day of His Resurrection, Jesus appeared to the Apostles and said,
“Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” And when he said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (John 20:21-23).
Through the Resurrection Christ begins His new creation. For as in the first creation God breathed into man and man became a living being, in the new creation God breathes on man to give Him new spiritual life through the power of the Holy Spirit in the forgiveness of sins. As the Father sent the Son to forgive sins, the Son now sends His Apostles to forgive sins by the power of the Holy Spirit. “It was when he gave the Holy Spirit to his apostles that the risen Christ conferred on them his own divine power to forgive sins” (CCC, 976).
At times we experience sickness and pain. The anointing of the sick is to bring about the healing power of Jesus Christ and to help us unite our suffering to the suffering of Jesus Christ on the Cross so that it is transformed and given the sweet aroma of Christ as an offering to the Father.
"[The disciples] healed many of the sick, anointing them with oil (Mark 6:13).
"Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects" (James 5:14, 15-16).
"The Anointing of the Sick 'is not a sacrament for those only who are at the point of death. Hence, as soon as anyone of the faithful begins to be in danger of death from sickness or old age, the fitting time for him to receive this sacrament has certainly already arrived.' If a sick person who received this anointing recovers his health, he can in the case of another grave illness receive this sacrament again. If during the same illness the person's condition becomes more serious, the sacrament may be repeated. It is fitting to receive the Anointing of the Sick just prior to a serious operation. The same holds for the elderly whose frailty becomes more pronounced" (CCC, 1514-1515).
Sacraments at the Service of Communion
"Holy Orders and Matrimony, are directed towards the salvation of others; if they contribute as well to personal salvation, it is through service to others that they do so. They confer a particular mission in the Church and serve to build up the People of God" (CCC, 1534).
Holy Matrimony is a sacrament at the service of communion and mission because it is ordered to the building up of the Family of God through the union of spouses and the procreation of children. It is a sacrament that God has blessed so that husband and wife can help each other and their children get to heaven through their daily life of love and sacrifice for one another. Spouses are called to love one another as Christ loved the Church, humbling serving one another and seeking the other's good. Marriage is the clearest sign or symbol that we have of God's love for all people and how deeply He desires to be united to us. Marriage is a sign of heaven and points to the union that we will have with God for all eternity.
God calls certain men to follow Him in a particular way and to share in His authority to teach, to sanctify, and to govern. Jesus calls them to imitate Him and to lay down their lives to be at the service of the Church as bishop, priest, or deacon. Jesus instituted Holy Orders so that there would always be some men dedicated to teaching the fullness of the faith and offering the mysteries of the faith in the sacraments to the rest of the People of God.