received from Christ and, as the faithful steward of God’s myster-
ies, has determined its “dispensation.”
Thus the Church has dis-
cerned over the centuries that among liturgical celebrations there
are seven that are, in the strict sense of the term, sacraments insti-
tuted by the Lord.
The sacraments are “of the Church” in the double sense
that they are “by her” and “for her.” They are “by the Church,” for
she is the sacrament of Christ’s action at work in her through the
mission of the Holy Spirit. They are “for the Church” in the sense
that “the sacraments make the Church,”
since they manifest and
communicate to men, above all in the Eucharist, the mystery of
communion with the God who is love, One in three persons.
Forming “as it were, one mystical person” with Christ the
head, theChurchacts in the sacraments as “anorganically structured
Through Baptism and Confirmation the
priestly people is enabled to celebrate the liturgy, while those of the
faithful “who have received Holy Orders, are appointed to nourish
the Churchwith the word and grace of God in the name of Christ.”
The ordained ministry or
priesthood is at the
service of the baptismal priesthood.
The ordained priesthood
guarantees that it really is Christ who acts in the sacraments
through the Holy Spirit for the Church. The saving mission en-
trusted by the Father to his incarnate Son was committed to the
apostles and through them to their successors: they receive the
Spirit of Jesus to act in his name and in his person.
minister is the sacramental bond that ties the liturgical action to
what the apostles said and did and, through them, to the words
and actions of Christ, the source and foundation of the sacraments.
The three sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy
Orders confer, in addition to grace, a sacramental
by which the Christian shares in Christ’s priesthood and is made
a member of the Church according to different states and functions.
This configuration to Christ and to the Church, brought about by
the Spirit, is indelible;
it remains for ever in the Christian as a
35 St. Augustine,
De civ. Dei,
22, 17: PL 41, 779; cf. St. Thomas Aquinas,
III, 64, 2
11; cf. Pius XII,
11 § 2.
10 § 2.
40 Cf. Council of Trent (1547): DS 1609.