Summary: Jesus promised to continue with his Church: he is really present in Word and SAcrament and in the life of the Church through the indwelling Spirit.
SACRAMENTAL LIFE OR LIFE IN THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST
The word sacrament comes into English from a Latin word meaning oath.
Christians, in using this word, are saying in this act we acknowledge God is
keeping his promise.
In the English Church (Anglican) Tradition, there are 7 sacraments: Baptism,
Confirmation, Penance, Holy Communion, Marriage, Anointing, and Holy Orders.
It is not my purpose here to discuss whether any or all of these seven
sacraments leave an “indelible mark” on the soul, or to discuss in detail
all of the sacraments.
This paper will deal only with the two sacraments explicitly given to us by
Jesus Christ: Baptism and Holy Communion.
To give a little background on sacraments in general, it is necessary to
look into Church history.
While Holy Communion (the Eucharist or Lord’s Supper) and Baptism were
observed from the earliest days of the Church, centuries elapsed before the
rites of Christian burial, penance (confession of sin), marriage and the
others were given regular forms and counted as sacraments. The exact number
of sacraments were disputed for centuries.
The Council of Lyons, 1274 AD stated clearly the number of sacraments.
Since this was more than a century before the Protestant Reformation, this
definition was passed on to the whole Church. The counting of seven
sacraments has been accepted by some, though not all Protestants, as well as
by the Anglican, Roman Catholic and the Orthodox Communions. The next
paragraph comes from that council.
The same Holy Roman Church also teaches that there are seven sacraments of
the Church: one is baptism, which has been mentioned above; another is the
sacrament of confirmation which bishops confer by the laying on of hands
while they anoint the reborn; then penance, the Eucharist, the sacrament of
order, matrimony and extreme unction which, according to the doctrine of the
Blessed James, [James 5:14-15] is administered to the sick. The same Roman
Church performs (conficit) the sacrament of the Eucharist with unleavened
bread; she holds and teaches that in this sacrament the bread is truly
transubstantiated into the body of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the wine into
His blood. As regards matrimony, she holds that neither is a man allowed to
have several wives at the same time nor a woman several husbands. But, when
a legitimate marriage is dissolved by the death of one of the spouses, she
declares that a second and afterwards a third wedding are successively
licit, if no other canonical impediment goes against it for any reason nst
it for any reason.
Source: The Christian Faith in the Doctrinal Documents of the Catholic
Church, rev ed., ed. J. Neusner and J Dupuis, (New York: Alba House, 1982),
no. 28 (p. 19) [ Denzinger-Schönmetzer, Enchiridion, 860]
Now that I have quoted from what is perceived by those from Protestant
backgrounds as a Roman Catholic document, though it was accepted by the
whole church before the Reformation, we have our work cut out for us. We
should attempt to define terms, not only as we understand them today, but as
they were understood by the Church in the Middle Ages, by the Church in the
time of the Early Church Fathers, and more importantly, by Jesus Christ and
The English derived the word sacrament from the Latin word sacramentum. A
sacrament is an oath. The word sacramentum was early applied to Baptism in
connection with its establishing of a Anew covenant” between a human being
Where did this idea come from, that baptism, a sacrament, is somehow a
covenant between God and his creature, man?
Among the last words of Jesus after his resurrection and before his
ascension to God the Father were these: “Go, make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy
Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And
remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
The oath, the promise of Jesus Christ is AI am with you always.” He had
promised, “When two or three are gathered in my name, I am in the midst.”
Those words of promise led to the concept of sacrament. Jesus had said, “I
am going away, but I will send the Comforter, the Spirit.” He also said,
“I will come to you.” The book of Acts records how the Spirit came as
Jesus had promised, on Pentecost Day. Those who were baptized, according to
the book of Acts, did receive this gift of the Spirit. In the New
Testament, sometimes the Spirit is referred to as the Spirit of Christ. So,
the abiding presence, the real presence of Christ in the Church is the
principle meaning of sacrament. From the first days of the Church, baptism