Text is from The Saint Andrew Daily Missal,
unless otherwise stated.
The Seven Sacraments Altarpiece.
Artist: Rogier van der Weyden (1399/1400–1464).
Current location: Royal Museum of Fine Arts,
Source/Photographer: Web Gallery of Art.
In order to apply to men the Merits of His Life and Passion, Our Blessed Lord instituted Seven Sacraments. These Sacraments act ex opere operato, provided all the conditions for their Action are present; but they Act in proportion to our disposition. We must, therefore, not only receive them, but try to receive them well.
To help us to do this, the Church makes use of Solemn Ceremonies in administering the Sacraments. The part played by these Ceremonies is thus explained by the Council of Trent:
1. They surround these Holy Mysteries with a Religious respect;
2. They help to make the Sacraments more effective by, in some sense, picturing them before our eyes, at the same time imprinting the Holiness they produce more deeply in our hearts;
3. They excite in our Souls sentiments of Faith and Charity, which dispose them in the best possible way to receive all the fruits of a Sacrament.
All the Sacraments produce Sanctifying Grace, which heals our Souls and raises them to a Supernatural State. This is done in a special way by each particular Sacrament as follows:
a. In Baptism, we are "born again" to The Divine Life;
b. Confirmation strengthens The Divine Life within us;
c. Penance restores The Divine Life when it has been lost by Mortal Sin;
d. The Eucharist supplies daily nourishment to The Divine Life;
e. Extreme Unction sustains The Divine Life within us in the hour of our death;
f. By Holy Order, the line of those who transmit The Divine Life is maintained;
g. By Holy Matrimony, the line of those who receive The Divine Life is maintained.
Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Order imprint a character on the Soul; a participation in the Priesthood of Christ.