Chapter 14. The Celebration of the Paschal Mystery of Christ • 169
• Sacraments at the Service of Communion: Holy Orders and
What are the Sacraments? “The sacraments are efficacious signs of
grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine
life is dispensed to us” through the work of the Holy Spirit (CCC, nos.
1131; cf. no. 774).
First of all, Sacraments are efficacious signs: that is, they are effec-
tive. In human life, signs and symbols are found everywhere. Because
we are both body and spirit, we express our inner selves through visible
signs and symbols. We use them to communicate with each other in
speech, gestures, and deeds. Sacramental signs are different in the sense
that Christ uses them to confer his life and grace. When these sacramen-
tal signs are celebrated, they reveal and make present the reality they
signify. They are efficacious, that is, effective, because Jesus Christ is at
work in them. “It is he who baptizes, he who acts in the sacraments in
order to communicate the grace that each sacrament signifies” (CCC,
no. 1127). As we reflect on the individual Sacraments in later chapters
, we will see that each Sacrament brings with it some
Second, Christ instituted the Sacraments. “Adhering to the teaching
of the Holy Scriptures, to the apostolic traditions, and to the consensus
. . . of the Fathers,” we profess that “the sacraments of the new law were
. . . all instituted by Jesus Christ our Lord” (CCC, no. 1114, citing the
Council of Trent: DS 1600-1601).
Third, Jesus entrusted the Sacraments to the Church. By Christ’s
will, the Church oversees and celebrates the Sacraments. Throughout
his earthly life, Christ’s words and deeds anticipated the power of his
Paschal Mystery. Sacraments confer the grace that comes forth from
Jesus Christ and that appears in the life of the Church by the power of
the Holy Spirit.
Fourth, the Sacraments transmit divine life. Our share in this life is
God’s grace, his gift to us. In the Sacraments, we encounter Jesus Christ.
The Spirit heals us and draws us closer to Christ and makes us partak-
ers in the life of the Holy Trinity. Depending on our responsiveness to
the grace of each Sacrament, our loving union with Jesus can increase