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The Celebration of the Christian Mystery

311

S

ection

T

wo

T

he

S

even

S

acraments

of the

C

hurch

1210

Christ instituted the sacraments of the new law. There are

seven: Baptism, Confirmation (or Chrismation), the Eucharist, Pen-

ance, the Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders, and Matrimony. The

seven sacraments touch all the stages and all the important moments

of Christian life:

1

they give birth and increase, healing andmission to

the Christian’s life of faith. There is thus a certain resemblance be-

tween the stages of natural life and the stages of the spiritual life.

1211

Following this analogy, the

first chapter

will expound the

three sacraments of Christian initiation; the

second,

the sacraments

of healing; and the

third,

the sacraments at the service of commu-

nion and the mission of the faithful. This order, while not the only

one possible, does allow one to see that the sacraments form an

organic whole in which each particular sacrament has its own vital

place. In this organic whole, the Eucharist occupies a unique place

as the “Sacrament of sacraments”: “all the other sacraments are

ordered to it as to their end.”

2

C

hapter

O

ne

T

he

S

acraments of

C

hristian

I

nitiation

1212

The sacraments of Christian initiation—Baptism, Confir-

mation, 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.”

3

1 Cf. St. Thomas Aquinas,

STh

III, 65, 1.

2 St. Thomas Aquinas,

STh

III, 65, 3.

3 Paul VI, apostolic constitution,

Divinae consortium naturae:

AAS 63 (1971)

657; cf. RCIA Introduction 1-2.

1113

1374