What Are the Sacraments of Catholicism?

The Roman Catholic Church has established seven sacraments: baptism, the Eucharist, confirmation, penance, anointing of the sick, holy orders and marriage. Catholics believe these sacraments constitute the essential basis for the proper worship of God. They profess that Jesus Christ established them for the church to administer.

The practice of the Catholic faith revolves almost exclusively around these seven Holy Sacraments. Baptism welcomes infants or young children into the church. Later in childhood, Catholics take their first communion, known as the Eucharist, and then undergo the rite of confirmation. Many Catholics regularly practice penance or confession of sins, when they privately confess their shortcomings to a priest, who is viewed as a representative of Jesus Christ. All Catholics engage in these sacraments and, if entering the church as adults, undergo a lengthy process of instruction known as Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, or RCIA, before they practice them.

The last three sacraments ラ anointing of the sick, holy orders and marriage ラ occur on specific occasions rather than regularly. A priest performs anointing of the sick, also known as extreme unction, when a Catholic is very ill or before a serious operation. The sacrament of marriage bonds two Catholics together in holy matrimony. The sacrament of holy orders takes place when a priest, bishop or deacon is ordained for service to the church.