The Sacraments are absolutely central in the life of most of the world’s Christians. For Roman Catholics and Greek Orthodox, there is unanimity on the Sacraments and the fact that there are seven of them. Some of the earlier Protestant churches celebrate baptism and the Eucharist with great faith and fervor, and there are some Christians who deny the very idea of sacramentality.
For those who hold to the seven Sacraments, I would like to point out that they do two things: they parallel our regular lives in a very beautiful and meaningful way and of even greater importance is the fact that they fuse our lives into the life of Jesus so that with St. Paul each one of us can say, “I live now not I but Christ lives in me.” We are born into the natural family. When we are Baptized, we are reborn into the family of faith, which is the Church.
When we begin to grow, our human natures are nurtured by earthly food and drink and our life in the family of the Church our souls are nourished by the Eucharist. In our day-to-day life, we make mistakes and nature calls us to repentance. In our spiritual life, we sin and Jesus Christ invites us to repentance in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. With age comes responsibility. High school and college graduates in a special way symbolize moving on to more mature responsibilities. Confirmation gives us the grace to carry out the responsibilities that flow from our baptism and our commitment to Jesus of Nazareth. The family is the bedrock of all civilizations and the Sacrament of Matrimony provides the grace necessary for that awesomely important role in life, just as the Sacrament of Holy Orders provides the Church with leadership and sacramental services that this enormous community of faith requires.
Finally, as our earthly lives come to an end, the Church stands with us once again bringing the saving grace of Jesus Christ as we are prepared for death and to meet our Lord himself in judgment.
These sacraments provide markers on our spiritual journey, but more importantly, they make it possible for us to intimately share in the life of Jesus of Nazareth and in so sharing be united ultimately to God himself.