The Sacraments

            The Catholic Church holds that Jesus Christ instituted seven sacraments.  A Sacrament is a sign that causes what it signifies.  Sacraments are the usual means by which God confers certain graces upon his people.  When we go through a sacramental ritual with the proper disposition, we can be assured that God has given us those graces promised.  “Grace” has to do with God looking upon us with favor and giving us the means to achieve a spiritual goal, as a result of the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus.  Although we may receive grace, the effect of grace is to some extent related to our cooperation with that grace.  Nevertheless, sacraments confer grace even in the absence of cooperation – a baby who is baptized becomes a member of the Church, loses “original sin”, and becomes a child of God;  a dying person who is unconscious nevertheless receives grace with the Sacrament of the Sick (see the Anointing of the Sick page).  Except for Baptism, all the sacraments can only be received by a properly baptized person.