Outward Signs that Give Grace
Most people know that much of Roman Catholic teaching and practice is based on sacraments. The Catholic Church, they say, is a Sacramental Church.
The word “sacrament” means sign. We believe that the Church itself is a sign of Christ’s continuing presence among us. So in this most general sense the Church itself is a sacrament because the Church as the People of God signifies Christ as risen Lord present in our world today.
But the Church is a special kind of sign. And it very actively lives its role as a sign of Christ’s presence by helping us encounter Christ. One specific way is through seven rituals or ceremonies that hold a very privileged place in the life of Catholic Christians.. Through them we worship God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit; and through them we encounter Christ. These actions are called the seven sacraments. And each in its own way signifies Christ reaching out to encounter his people.