The Sacraments

What is a Sacrament?

The sacraments are seven great streams of grace flowing from the pierced Heart of Jesus Crucified, to nourish and strengthen our souls.

The sacraments are seven great streams of grace flowing from the pierced Heart of Jesus Crucified, to nourish and strengthen our souls.

A sacrament is an outward sign instituted by Christ to give grace. Only Christ instituted the sacraments, because only God can endow signs with the power to give grace. An outward sign is something perceived by the senses. The external thing or action is called the matter, and the formula of the words, the form, of the sacrament. (For example, we see the water used in baptism; we hear the words pronounced as the water is poured. These are sensible signs perceived by the senses of sight and hearing.) The sacraments  signify the graces they actually give. Thus the washing in Baptism signifies the inward washing of the soul from sin. The sacraments always give the graces they signify, provided the recipient puts no obstacles [between himself and the grace of God]. It is principally through the sacraments that we obtain the grace of God. They are channels by which grace enters our souls, to feed and nourish them.

How many sacraments are there?

There are seven sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Eucharist, Penance, Extreme Unction, Holy Orders and Matrimony. These are seven sacraments and only seven, no more, no less, for the simple reason that Our Lord instituted seven. These seven sacraments are a gift of love from the Son of God, a gift for which He paid His very life.

From whom do the sacraments receive their power to give grace?

The sacraments receive their power to give grace from God, through the merits of Jesus Christ. Each sacrament posses the power from God to make the soul of the recipient holy and pleasing to Him. This supernatural power is termed, Sanctifying Grace. (Sanctifying Grace is abiding and permanent and lost only by mortal sin. The sacrament that first gives this grace is Baptism. The sacrament that restores this grace to those who have lost it by sin is Penance. The other sacraments give an increase of Sanctifying Grace.) Each Sacrament also gives a grace proper to itself, a special effect on the soul, distinct from the effects of other sacraments; this is called Sacramental Grace. If received with the proper dispositions, the sacraments always give grace.

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What is Baptism?

Baptism is the sacrament that gives our souls the new life of sanctifying grace by which we become children of God and heirs of heaven. This is the first sacrament that we may receive. Unless we are baptized, we are forbidden to receive any other sacraments. This sacrament was instituted by Christ at His own Baptism, and commanded at His Ascension. [Acts 2:38]

Who can administer Baptism?

The priest is the usual minister of Baptism, but if there is a danger that someone will die without Baptism, anyone else may and should Baptize. In the early days of the Church, religious instruction preceded Baptism; the candidates for Baptism were called catechumens. In those days, solemn Baptism was administered on Holy Saturday, on the eve of Whitsunday, and on the eve of the Epiphany. From those early times has come our practice today of having the water for baptism solemnly blessed on Solemn Easter Vigil, that is, on Holy Saturday Night.

The Bishop or a Priest properly delegated, is therefore the ordinary minister of Baptism. But in cases of necessity, when there is danger of death and an ordinary minister is unavailable, anyone- man, woman or child, Catholic or non-Catholic, atheist or pagan- may and should baptize; that person then becomes the extraordinary minister of Baptism. When properly given, lay baptism is as valid as baptism given by a priest. In order to Baptize validly, natural fresh water or holy water is poured on the head, face, or body of the person being Baptized, and at the same time the words are pronounced: "I Baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."

If a person baptized by an extraordinary minister survives, he cannot be baptized again. However, he is taken to the Church and the ceremonies that had been omitted are supplied. [No one may baptize himself.]

Baptism administered by a Protestant or other minister is valid if properly performed: that is, with the use of water, together with the form of Baptism, and having the intention to do what the Church does. Conditional Baptism is given when it is uncertain wether a person has been baptized, or when there is fear of the sacrament having been administered improperly, as with converted Protestants.

Children should be baptized in the parochial church to which their parents belong, because the registration should be made there. In case a child is baptized in a hospital, at home, or elsewhere, in some other church, the parish priest should be notified.

After baptism, a certificate is given containing the names of the child, of his parents, of his godparents, the dates of birth, of Baptism, and the place of Baptism.

What sins does Baptism take away?

Baptism takes away original sin, and also actual sins and all the punishment due to them, if the person baptized be guilty of any actual sins and truly sorry for them. Baptism is the only sacrament that can remit original sin. It cleanses us from all sin, original and actual, and remits all punishment due. If an adult receives Baptism with the proper dispositions, that is, with  faith and contrition, his actual sins are taken away with original sin, as well as all temporal punishment due to his actual sins. Thus if an adult dies immediately after Baptism,  he goes straight to heaven, whatever the sins he may have committed. [Mark 16:16] When Baptism takes away original sin, it gives our souls the new life of Sanctifying Grace. Thus by Baptism we are born again.

What are the effects of the character imprinted on the soul by Baptism?

The effects of the character imprinted on the soul by Baptism are that we become members of the Church, subject to its laws, and capable of receiving the other sacraments. By Baptism we become members of the Church and children of God. We are given the right to enter heaven, and to gain merits by our good works. We assume the obligation to act as lay apostles for the spread of the Faith. (Baptism imprints an indelible sign or character on the soul. This character marks us as Christians, and cannot be removed by anything, even mortal sin. This character prevents the sacrament from being repeated: we can be Baptized only once.) [Gal. 3:27]

Why is Baptism necessary for the salvation of all men?

Baptism is necessary for the salvation of all men, because Christ has said: "Unless a man be born again of water and he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." From the time of Christ this has been the unequivocal teaching of the Church. The reason lies in the fact that only baptism can remit original sin; no one with any taint can enter heaven. 

Those who through no fault of their own have not received the sacrament of Baptism can be saved through what is called Baptism of Blood or Baptism of Desire. Either baptism of desire or of blood entitles one to the possession of heaven, just as baptism by water. However, only baptism by water imprints a character on the soul, and so entitles one to the reception of the other sacraments. 

Baptism of Blood- An unbaptized person receives the Baptism of Blood when he suffers martyrdom for the Faith of Christ. One who lays down his life for christ or some Christian virtue is said to have received Baptism of Blood Our Lord promised "He who loses his life for my sake will find it." [Matt. 10:39] Thus the Holy Innocents whom Herod slew out of hatred for the Infant Jesus received the Baptism of Blood. 

Baptism of Desire- An unbaptized person receives the Baptism of Desire when he loves God above all things, and desires to do all that is necessary for his salvation. One who loves God above all things, is sorry for his sins, and ardently longs for Baptism when it is impossible to receive it; or one who not knowing the necessity of Baptism, sincerely wishes to do all required for salvation, is said to have received Baptism of Desire.

When Should Children be Baptized?

Children should be Baptized as soon as possible after birth. If possible, this should be done within a week. This practice dates from the apostles. (Except when in danger of death, an infant should NOT be baptized without the permission of a parent or guardian. Children who have come to the age of reason cannot be baptized without their own consent. Infants may receive the Baptism of Blood, but not the Baptism of Desire, since they have not as yet the use of reason.  Since infants who die unbaptized have committed no sins, they live in a place of natural happiness called Limbo.

Catholic parents who put off for a long time, or entirely neglect, the Baptism of their children put them in danger of losing heaven and the vision of God eternally. Although in limbo infants enjoy complete natural happiness surpassing any on earth, such happiness cannot compare with the bliss of heaven, where souls see God face to face. one is natural, the other is supernatural joy.


What is Confirmation?

Confirmation is the sacrament through which the Holy Ghost comes to us in a special way and enables us to profess our Faith as strong and perfect Christians and soldiers of Jesus Christ. Confirmation in a very special manner brings us the Holy Ghost with His sevenfold gifts. [Acts 8:17] Any Baptized Christian may be Confirmed. Although the sacrament is not nesesary for salvation, it is sinful to neglect it, as it confers many graces. By Confirmation we become soldiers of Christ, for it strengthens us in the proession of our faith. [Phil. 4:13]

We should receive the sacrament of Confirmation at the age when we pass from childhood to youth. At that period all kinds of temptations surround us, and we need special strength from God to resist them. In the early  days of the Church, it was the custom to Confirm very young children. The sacrament of Confirmation is today delayed in order that the recipient may first have a basis of knowledge of the fundamentals of Faith. Even when Confirmation is administered to infants and very young children, they truly receive the sacrament. The age is a matter of discipline in a particular diocese.

Who is the usual minister of Confirmation?

The Bishop is the usual minister of confirmation. Sometimes, however, the Holy See gives missionary priests the power to administer this sacrament. Pastors and administrators of parishes are granted the faculty of confirming, as extra-ordinary ministers, those among their lock and others in their territory who are in danger of death from sickness, accident or old age.

When giving Confirmation, the Bishop lays his hand on the head of the person he Confirms, and anoints the forehead with Holy Chrism in the form of a cross as he says: "I sign you with the sign of the cross, and I confirm you with the chrism of salvation, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost."

What is necessary to receive Confirmation properly?

To receive Confirmation properly, it is necessary to be in the State of Grace, and to know well the chief truths and duties of our Religion. For Confirmation, a knowledge of the chief truths and duties of our Religion is required. This is why, if a person who is to be confirmed has reached the age or reason, he is examined as to these truths when he goes to Confession before Confirmation. 

What are the effects of Confirmation?

Confirmation increases sanctifying graces, gives it's special sacramental grace, and imprints a lasting character on the soul. Confirmation creates within us a spirit of meekness. It increases our love of God and our neighbor. It enlightens our understanding, strengthens our will, preserves our soul from sin, and inclines our heart to virtue. The sacramental grace of Confirmation helps us to live our Faith loyally and to profess it courageously. The character of Confirmation is a spiritual and indelible sign which marks the Christian as a soldier in the army of Christ. (Because Confirmation imprints and indelible character on the soul, it may be received only once. As a soldier of Christ, a confirmed person is given a sense of the worthlessness of the goods and pleasures of earth; his thoughts are directed towards the supernatural; in other words, he is given the capacity to become a perfect Christian.)

Holy Eucharist

What is the Holy Eucharist?

The Holy Eucharist is a sacrament and a sacrifice in which Our Savior Jesus Christ, body and blood, soul and divinity, is contained, offered, and received under the appearances of bread and wine. Christ instituted the Holy Eucharist at the last supper the night before He died. When our lord said, "This is My body," the entire substance of the bread was changed into His body; and when he said "This is My blood," the entire substance of the wine was changed into his blood. After the substance of the bread and wine had been changed, only the appearances of bread and wine remained. (By the appearances of bread and wine we mean their color, taste, weight, shape, and whatever else appears to the senses.)

Why do we believe that Christ changed bread and wine into His own Body and Blood?

We believe that Christ changed bread and wine into His own Body and Blood, because:

  1. His words clearly say so. At the Last Supper He said "This is My Body," not "This is a symbol of My Body," or "This represents My Body."
  2. Previously, on the day after the first multiplication of the loaves and fishes, Our Lord had promised to give His Flesh to eat and His Blood to drink. On this occasion, it is clear that the Jews took Our Lord's words literally. Many of the disciples left Jesus and "walked no more with Him," because they could not believe such a thing as He promised. But Jesus, although very sad at their leaving, did not take back his words or explain them differently. "Amen, amen, I say to you, Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has life everlasting and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed." (John 6:54-56).
  3. The Apostles understood that Christ meant His words at the Last Supper to be literal. St. Paul writes: "The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not the sharing of the blood of Christ? and the bread that we break, is it not the partaking of the body of the Lord?... Therefore Whoever eats this bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily, will be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But let a man prove himself, and so let him eat of that bread and drink of the cup' for he who eats and drinks unworthily, without distinguishing the body, eats and drinks judgement to himself." (1 Cor. 10:16; 11:27-29).
  4. It has been the continuous belief of Christians from the beginning of Christianity. St. Augustine said, 'Our lord held Himself in His own hands, when He gave His Body to the disciples." It was only in the 16th century  that Protestants, breaking away from the True Church, denied it and introduced a different doctrine.

When did Christ give His priests the power to change bread and wine into His Body and Blood?

Christ gave His priests the power to change bread and wine into His Body and Blood when He made the Apostles priests at the Last Supper by saying to them: "Do this in remembrance of Me." Thus he commanded them and their successors to renew till the end of time what He had just performed. This change of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ continues to be made in the Church by Jesus Christ, through His priests.

How do priests exercise their power to change the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ?

Priests exercise their power to change bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ by repeating at the consecration, during the Mass, the words of Christ: "This is My Body... this is My Blood..." (Over the bread are pronounced the words: "Hoc est enim Corpus Meum." Over the wine are pronounced the words: "Hic est enim Calix Sanguinis Mei, novi et aeterni testamenti: mysterium fidei, qui pro vobis et pro multis effundetur in remissionem peccatorum.")

At Mass, at the words of consecration, transubstantiation takes place; that is, the entire substance of the bread and wine is changed into our Lord's Body and Blood. After the words of consecration, there is no longer any bread or wine on the altar, for they have been changed into Christ's Body and Blood. If it be asked how transubstantiation can possibly be effected, we reply: "By the almighty power of God."

The appearances of bread and wine remain. The consecrated Host continues to look like bread, tastes and feels like bread; but it is not bread, for the entire substance of bread is changed into Christ's Body. The same thing is true of the consecrated Chalice, which continues to look, smell, and taste like wine, but there is no more wine, only Christ's Blood.

Is Jesus Christ whole and entire both under the appearances of bread, and under the appearances of wine?

Jesus Christ is whole and entire both under the appearances of bread and under the appearances of wine. In the Holy Eucharist Christ is present wholly, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. As Christ's Body is a living body, and a living body has blood, so Christ's Blood is there wherever His Body is. Where Christ's living Body and Blood are, there also must be His soul, for the body and blood cannot live without the soul. And where Christ's Soul is, there is also His Divinity, which cannot be separated from His humanity.

Christ is whole and entire in each part of the Host and in each drop in the Chalice. when the Host is broken, the Body of Christ is not broken, but He exists whole and entire in each fragment. Christ's Body and Blood are present in the consecrated species as long as the appearances of bread and wine remain. When, therefore, we receive Holy Communion we bear within us, as long as the appearances of bread remain, the Living Christ, Son of God.

Why did Christ give us His own Body and Blood in the Holy Eucharist?

Christ gave us His own Body and Blood in the Holy Eucharist:

  1. To be offered as a sacrifice commemorating and renewing the sacrifice of the Cross. [1 Cor. 11:26]
  2. To be received in Holy Communion. [John 6:48, 56, 58]
  3. To remain ever on our altars as a proof of His love, and to be worshipped by us.

Since Christ's Real Presence is in the Eucharist, what honor are we bound to render It?

We are bound to render to the Holy Eucharist the same adoration and honor due to God Himself. It is a most wonderful privilege to have Christ actually present every moment of the day and night. When the Blessed sacrament is in the tabernacle, it is covered with a curtain or veil, and a sanctuary lamp is kept burning before it. When we enter or leave the church, we should genuflect on the right knee towards the tabernacle, as a sign of adoration. This is why the tabernacle is the most precious part of a church.

We can show Jesus our love and gratitude by hearing Holy Mass every day and receiving Holy Communion, by paying Him a visit in the Blessed Sacrament, by attending Benediction, by spending an hour of adoration when the Blessed Sacrament is exposed, and by other devotions.


What is the sacrament of Penance?

Penance is the sacrament by which sins committed after Baptism are forgiven through the absolution of the priest. Penance prompts the sinner to detest his sins, and incites him to offer satisfaction for them, and to amend his life in the future. [Penance] is the way by which after Baptism sanctifying grace is restored to the penitent who has committed mortal sin. The sacrament of Penance is the cure for spiritual illness of sin committed after Baptism. 

The sacrament of Penance includes three distinct acts:

  1. Contrition or sorrow for his sins
  2. Confession or telling them to the priest
  3. Satisfaction or performance of the Penance imposed b the priest.

The practice of confessing to a priest has been continuous in the Church from the time of the Apostles. W e read in Holy Scripture that in the time of the Apostles the Christian converts came to them, and openly confessed their practices. [Acts 19:18] In the writings of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, in the very first centuries of the Christian era, the faithful are often advised and exhorted to confess their sins. St. Augustine says: "It is not enough that one acknowledge his sins to God, from whom nothing is hidden; he must also confess them to a priest, God's representative." 

How and when did Christ institute the sacrament of Penance?

Our Lord promised to give Peter the power to forgive sins, saying to him, "And whatever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." [Matt. 16:19] Christ later made the same promise to the other Apostles, saying: "Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed also in heaven." [Matt 18:18]

On the first Easter Sunday night, Our Lord fulfilled His promise to give His Apostles the power to forgive sins. Jesus appeared to His Apostles and said: "Peace be to you. As the Father has sent me, I also send you." When He had said this, He breathed upon them and said to them: "Receive the Holy Ghost; whose sins you shall forgive they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained." [John 20:21-23

With what words does the priest forgive sins?

The priest forgives sins with the words: "I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen." This is called the 'Absolution,' and is said by the priest over the penitent, with uplifted hand, when he forgives the sins confessed. It is pronounced while the penitent is saying an Act of Contrition. 

The priest refuses absolution to a penitent when he thinks the penitent does not have the necessary dispositions. He may also postpone absolution to a later confession, if he thinks it best to do so. The confessor is a judge in the confessional; he must act as judge, looking not only into the sins being confessed, but also into the purpose of amendment, into the sincerity of contrition of the penitent, and the satisfaction to be imposed.

Certain sins are reserved to the Pope or the Bishop for absolution. These are called 'Reserved Cases': as when one is a member of the Freemasons, gets married before a non-Catholic minister, or desecrates a sacred Host. Every Catholic priest, however, even if suspended or excommunicated, has power to absolve all the sins of a dying person.

What are the effects of the sacrament of Penance, worthily received?

They are:

  1. The restoration or increase of Sanctifying Grace.
  2. The forgiveness of sins.
  3. The remission of the eternal punishment, if necessary, and also of part, at least, of the temporal punishment due to our sins.
  4. The help to avoid sin in the future.
  5. The restoration of the merits of our good works, if they have been lost by mortal sins.

What sins does the sacrament of Penance take away?

The sacrament of Penance remits the guilt of sins. All sins can be forgiven in the sacrament of Penance. However many and wicked the sins may be, they are ALL forgiven if the sinner makes a good confession, even on a deathbed. [1 John 1:9]

What is the "Seal of Confession?"

The Seal of Confession is the most solemn obligation of a priest to keep secret what has been revealed to him in Confession. The priest may not break this seal of confession even to save his own life, or to avert a great calamity. He must act as if he had not heard anything in Confession. This is why a sense of shame or fear of telling our sins should never lead us to conceal mortal sins in confession.

The Seal of Confession must be observed even in a court of justice, for the Divine Law is higher than human law. It would be a mortal sin for a priest to divulge even a venial sin which he knew through Confession. The penalty for violating the Seal of Confession is excommunication reserved to the Pope, besides sever ecclesiastical penalties.

Are penitents bound by the Seal of Confession?

Penitents are in no way bound by the seal of confession; but they are advised to refrain from talking about what the priest tells them in the confessional (advice, penance etc.). One reason for this is that if we misunderstand or misrepresent what the priest told us, he has no way of defending himself. Besides, each penitent is different from the others. Advice or penance given by a confessor to one may not be good for another; just as a doctor prescribes different medicines for his patients.

If we overhear something being told in the confessional, we are strictly bound to secrecy.

Extreme Unction

What is Extreme Unction?

Extreme Unction is the sacrament which, though the anointing with blessed oil by the priest, and through his prayer, gives health and strength to the soul, and sometimes to the body, when we are in danger of death from sickness, accident, or old age.

It was to cure the sick and console the afflicted that Our Lord worked many of His miracles. The Gospels give us vivid pictures of Him as He wend about doing good, preaching and "healing every disease and every sickness among the people." [Matt. 4:23] [Luke 4:40]

Today, Christ comes to us in the sacrament of Extreme Unction, and, if it be for the good of our soul, cures us of our sickness, saying to us, as He did to so many long ago: "Arise, be thou made whole." 

It is a certainty that the Apostles conferred Extreme Unction, as directly recommended and promulgated for the use of the faithful in the Epistle of St. James. [James 5:14-15]

How is the sacrament of Extreme Unction conferred?

The outward sign or ceremony is the anointing with blessed oil, at the same time that the words are pronounced: "By this holy anointing and His most loving mercy, may the Lord forgive you whatever wrong you have done by the use of your sight, hearing etc..."

The priest anoints with consecrated oil in the form of a cross the five senses: eyes, ears, nostrils, lips, hands and feet. In case of urgent necessity, the anointing may be made on the forehead alone, and the words of the form made shorter.

Who can administer the sacrament of Extreme Unction?

Only a man who was ordained a priest may administer Extreme Unction; ordinarily the parish priest.

Who should receive Extreme Unction?

All Catholics who have reached the use of reason and are in danger of death from sickness, accident, or old age, should receive Extreme Unction. As the primary purpose of the sacrament is to restore the soul weakened by sin and temptation, those who have never been capable of sinning cannot receive it. Hence [the mentally retarded] and children under the age of reason cannot receive Extreme Unction.

The sacrament may be received only once in the same illness. If the person recovers, and falls seriously sick once more, he may receive the sacrament again, even if the illness be the same disease. The sacrament should be administered as soon as there is danger of death. Those attending sick persons should not wait till the person is actually dying before calling the priest. Generally, the restoration to health often worked by Extreme Unction is not produced miraculously, hence the reception of the sacrament must not be delayed.

What must be the disposition of the soul in order to receive Extreme Unction?

Since Extreme Unction is a sacrament of the living, the person must be in the State of Grace. Before the reception of Extreme Unction, it is customary to go to confession, unless unable to do so. 

What are the effects of the sacrament of Extreme Unction?

The effects of the sacrament of Extreme Unction are:

  1. An increase of Sanctifying Grace.
  2. Comfort in sickness and strength against temptation.
  3. Preparation for entrance into heaven by the remission of venial sins, and mortal sins (if the dying is unable to confess).
  4. Health of the body when this is good for the soul.

When does Extreme Unction take away mortal sin?

Extreme Unction takes away mortal sin when the sick person is unconscious or otherwise unaware that he is not properly disposed, but has made an act of imperfect contrition. An unconscious person may receive Extreme Unction. If he is guilty of mortal sin, and has attrition for it and falls unconscious before the arrival of the priest, Extreme Unction will restore him to Sanctifying Grace. However, should he recover, he is bound to confess his sins thus forgiven. 

Holy Orders

What is Holy Orders?

Holy orders is the sacrament through which men receive the power and grace to perform the sacred duties of bishops, priests, and other ministers of the Church. Our Lord Jesus Christ instituted this sacrament.

How was this sacrament instituted by Our Lord Jesus Christ?

Our Lord instituted the Sacrament of Holy Orders in this way:

  1. At the Last Supper He gave the Apostles and their successors the power to say Mass. He said, after consecrating His Body and Blood: "Do this in remembrance of me." [Luke 22:19] Thus He gave the Apostles the power to offer the Sacrifice of the Mass. 
  2. On the day of the Ressurection, Our Lord gave the disciples power to forgive sins. [John 20:21-23
  3. Finally, before the Ascension, Christ gave His disciples the mission to preach the Gospel and dispense the sacraments. "All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded to you; and behold I am with you all days." [Matt. 28:18-20] They Consecrated Paul and Barnabas bishops, with prayer and the imposition of hands. In the same way St. Paul ordained Timothy. when the Apostles established churches, upon their departure, they ordained and appointed successors (Bishops) to whom they gave full powers, and other ministers (Priests and Deacons) to whom they transmitted part of their powers. "For this reason I admonish thee to stir up the grace of God which is in thee by the laying on of my hands." [2 Tim. 1:6]

What are some of the preliminary signs of a vocation to the Priesthood?

Some of the preliminary signs of a vocation to the priesthood are:

  1. That a boy or young man be capable of living habitually in the State of Grace.
  2. That he be attracted to the priesthood and manifest the attraction by frequent confession and communion, by a virtuous life, by a love of serving Mass, teaching catechism, helping others to be good Catholics. (Those who are called by God to be priests ordinarily receive no special revelation to this effect. God expects all to use the gifts of reason and of grace in determining their state of life.)
  3. That he has the right intention to save his soul and the souls of others; that he has good health and sufficient ability to succeed in the studies of the seminary; and that his qualifications be accepted by the bishop.

What are some of the requirements, that a man may receive Holy Orders worthily?

That a man may receive Holy Orders worthily, it is necessary:

  1. That he be in the State of Grace and be of excellent character. "Excellent character" implies good will and virtuous conduct, as well as good sense.
  2. That he have the prescribed age and learning. To be ordained a priest, one must have completed his twenty-fourth year of age. The prescribed learning for the priesthood ordinarily consists of four years of college after high school, and four years of theology completed in a seminary.
  3. That he have the intention of devoting his life to the sacred ministry. This includes willingness to bear whatever burdens and difficulties Holy Orders may bring, for the love of God. It presupposes sincerity in the intention to devote his entire life. 
  4. that he be called to Holy Orders by his bishop. The bishop must be satisfied that the applicant has the virtue and the physical as well as mental fitness reuired and that he is free from all canonical irregularity. In general if a young man has good will, good health, a good mind, good sense, and a sincere desire to dedicate himself to the service of God, he has the qualifications necessary for the priesthood.

What are the two classes of Priests?

The two classes of priests are: diocesan priests and religious priests. 

  1. Diocesan priests exercise the sacred ministry of the priesthood under a bishop. They bind themselves to chastity for life, and make a solemn promise of obedience to their bishop.
  2. Religious priests are members of religious orders or congregations, under religious superiors. They are bound by the evangelical vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, and live in community with their brethren. Examples of religious are: Augustinians, Benedictines, Dominicans, Franciscans, Jesuits, Salesians, etc.



What is the sacrament of Matrimony?

Matrimony is the sacrament by which a baptized man and a baptized woman bind themselves for life in a lawful marriage, and receive the grace to discharge their duties.

God instituted Matrimony in the Garden of Eden, when He created Adam and Eve. “Wherefore a man shall leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they shall be two in one flesh.” [Gen 2:24] Before the coming of Christ, matrimony was a sacred contract, but not a sacrament. Our Lord raised Matrimony to the dignity of a sacrament.

At the marriage feast at Cana, Christ worked his first miracle, thus manifesting the holiness of the married state. In the marriage contract, God has made a natural relation a means of grace for Christians. Our Lord instituted special sacraments for the two states of life: the Priesthood and Matrimony; from this fact we may deduce the importance he attached to these states of life. By the sacrament of Matrimony, God grants the contracting parties grace to bear the difficulties of the married state, and to sanctify their common life for God’s glory and the salvation of their souls.

The sacrament of Matrimony consists in the mutual expression by both contracting parties [one man & one woman]  of their free consent to take each other as husband and wife.

Who administers the sacrament of Matrimony?

The ministers of the sacrament of matrimony are the contracting parties themselves, the groom and the bride. The priest is the witness authorized by the Church to be present and bless the union.

What is the primary purpose of Matrimony?

The primary purpose of Matrimony is, the begetting and rearing of children in the fear and love of God, in order that they may join Him in heaven some day.

Is artificial ‘birth control’ immoral?

Since the primary purpose of Marriage is to bring children into the world, any attempt to frustrate this purpose while making use of its means is intrinsically evil, against Natural and Divine Law, and necessarily always a mortal sin. Artificial birth control contravenes the primary purpose of marriage and prostitutes it for other ends. The practice of birth control and sterilization will, if carried out to its inevitable conclusion, some day, as a sarcastic writer comments: “give over the country to the animals.”

What is necessary to receive the sacrament of Matrimony worthily?

To receive the sacrament of Matrimony worthily, it is necessary to be in the State of Grace, to know the duties of married life, and to obey the marriage laws of the Church.

What are the chief effects of the sacrament of Matrimony?

The chief effects of the sacrament of Matrimony are:

  1. An increase of sanctifying grace.
  2. The special help of God for husband and wife to love each other faithfully, to bear with each other’s faults, and to bring up their children properly. This is the special Sacramental Grace obtained from the reception of the sacrament of Matrimony.