sacrament

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sacrament

[Lat.,=something holy], an outward sign of something sacred. In Christianity, a sacrament is commonly defined as having been instituted by Jesus and consisting of a visible sign of invisible grace. Christianity is divided as to the number and operation of sacraments. The traditional view held by Orthodox, Roman Catholics, and certain Anglicans counts the sacraments as seven—EucharistEucharist
[Gr.,=thanksgiving], Christian sacrament that repeats the action of Jesus at his last supper with his disciples, when he gave them bread, saying, "This is my body," and wine, saying, "This is my blood." (Mat. 26; Mark 14; Luke 22; 1 Cor. 11.
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, baptismbaptism
[Gr., =dipping], in most Christian churches a sacrament. It is a rite of purification by water, a ceremony invoking the grace of God to regenerate the person, free him or her from sin, and make that person a part of the church.
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, confirmationconfirmation,
Christian rite in which the initiation into the church that takes place by baptism is confirmed. In the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Eastern churches, it is a sacrament by which a Christian is strengthened in his faith.
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, penancepenance
, sacrament of the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Eastern churches. By it the penitent (the person receiving the sacrament) is absolved of his or her sins by a confessor (the person hearing the confession and conferring the sacrament).
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, anointing of the sickanointing of the sick,
sacrament of the Orthodox Eastern Church and the Roman Catholic Church, formerly known as extreme unction. In it a sick or dying person is anointed on eyes, ears, nostrils, lips, hands, feet, and sometimes, in the case of men, the loins, by a priest while
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, matrimony (see marriagemarriage,
socially sanctioned union that reproduces the family. In all societies the choice of partners is generally guided by rules of exogamy (the obligation to marry outside a group); some societies also have rules of endogamy (the obligation to marry within a group).
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), and holy orders (see orders, holyorders, holy
[Lat. ordo,=rank], in Christianity, the traditional degrees of the clergy, conferred by the Sacrament of Holy Order. The episcopacy, priesthood or presbyterate, and diaconate were in general use in Christian churches in the 2d cent.
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). These are held to produce grace in the soul of the recipient by the very performance of the sacramental act (ex opere operato); the recipient need only have the right intention. Most Protestant denominations recognize two sacraments—baptism and communion, or the Lord's SupperLord's Supper,
Protestant rite commemorating the Last Supper. In the Reformation the leaders generally rejected the traditional belief in the sacrament as a sacrifice and as an invisible miracle of the actual changing of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ
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. Protestants hold generally that it is the faith of the participant, itself a gift of God, rather than the power of the sacramental act that produces grace. A conventional division of the seven sacraments sets apart the "sacraments of the dead," i.e., baptism and penance, because they are for souls in a state of sin; the rest, "sacraments of the living," are conferred on souls in a state of grace.
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A priest preparing the Eucharist, the embodiment of Christ, for the sacrament of Holy Communion. Fortean Picture Library.

Sacrament

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Augustine (354-430 CE) was the first to officially define the word sacrament, and his definition has stood the test of time. He said it was "an outward and temporal [visible] sign of an inward and enduring grace."In other words, a sacrament incorporates visible symbols that illustrate an invisible work of God. One example is baptism (see Baptism), which uses water to illustrate the theological premise that God "washes away" sin.

But some theological explanations go deeper than what is suggested by the word "illustrate." Some religions teach that the actual act, using the visible symbol, is what triggers the inward reality. In the case of baptism, for example, there are those who believe that without the outward act of cleansing, the inward reality never happens. In other words, if you are not baptized with water according to the rituals of the particular sect, you are not "saved."

Early on, the Roman Catholic Church recognized seven specific sacraments. Most Protestant denominations recognize only baptism and the Lord's Supper as sacraments. But even within these communities there is often disagreement as to the meaning, extent, and outward presentation of each sacrament.

The Religion Book: Places, Prophets, Saints, and Seers © 2004 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Sacrament

 

in Christianity, a magical religious rite; according to church teachings, a sacrament gives a person a supernatural miracle-working power (“divine grace”).

The origins of the sacraments go back to the pre-Christian mysteries. The sacraments were gradually introduced with the establishment and strengthening of the Christian church organization. The first sacraments mentioned in Christian literature were baptism and the Eucharist (end of the first to the second century, Epistles of the Apostles, Acts of the Apostles).

In the 13th century (definitively at the Council of Florence of 1438–45), the Roman Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox churches adopted seven sacraments: (1) baptism, which is administered to a person as a sign of acceptance into the church and to cleanse the person of alleged sins (in the Orthodox tradition it is administered by immersing an infant in water, in the Catholic tradition by pouring water, and in the Protestant tradition by sprinkling water); (2) confirmation (Roman Catholic) or anointing (Eastern Orthodox), by which a person is “sanctified” by being anointed with an aromatic mixture (chrism); (3) Eucharist, by which, according to Christian teachings, believers receive the body and blood of Christ and in so doing free themselves of sins (in the Orthodox Church both laymen and clergy partake of bread and wine, and in Catholicism the clergy take bread and wine and laymen, as a rule, only partake of the bread); (4) penance (confession), the disclosing of one’s sins to a priest and receiving absolution (“remission of sins”) in the name of Christ; (5) matrimony (in the Catholic Church this cannot be dissolved); (6) extreme unction, or anointing of the sick, which is administered to a sick person (according to Orthodox teaching it cures illnesses, and in Catholicism it is a blessing over a dying person); and (7) holy orders, which is administered by a bishop, admits a person into the priesthood (the sacrament formed with the rise of a clergy).

The sacraments can be administered, as a rule, only by a member of the clergy who acts, according to church teachings, as an intermediary between god and people. Thus, the church teachings about the sacraments served to lay the foundation for the necessary existence of ministers of worship and the church.

The sacraments underwent some changes in the Protestant teachings of the Reformation period. Lutherans recognize only the sacraments of baptism and the Eucharist (Luther originally recognized the sacrament of penance as well), and the Anglican Church recognizes baptism, the Eucharist, and matrimony. Baptists and members of the Reform Church retained the rites of baptism and the Eucharist, but they see them as symbolic acts rather than as sacraments. In the papal encyclical Mysterium fidei (1966), Pope Paul VI made a stricter observance of the sacraments mandatory, especially the sacrament of the Eucharist. (At the same time, some relaxation in respect to the form of observance was allowed.) In modern Protestantism there is a tendency to emphasize the meaning of the sacraments as a means of strengthening religious faith.

REFERENCES

Ranovich, A. Proiskhozhdenie khristianskikh tainstv. Moscow-Leningrad, 1931.
Emeliakh, L. I. Proiskhozhdenie khristianskikh tainstv. Moscow, 1956.

B. IA. RAMM

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

sacrament

1. an outward sign combined with a prescribed form of words and regarded as conferring some specific grace upon those who receive it. The Protestant sacraments are baptism and the Lord's Supper. In the Roman Catholic and Eastern Churches they are baptism, penance, confirmation, the Eucharist, holy orders, matrimony, and the anointing of the sick (formerly extreme unction)
2. the Eucharist
3. the consecrated elements of the Eucharist, esp the bread
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
They remind us that a sacrament cannot be "undone." Like the other six sacraments, marriage is a gift from God.
In an earlier press conference, the prelate already warned that no parish or clergy member should take advantage of the sacraments as a means for personal gain.
When discussing how Christ is present in the elements at the Eucharist, Calvin said, "I would rather experience it than understand it." No matter how we might try to specify and name the mystery of the operations of the grace of God in the sacraments (and faith should seek understanding but also feel its limits); it is in the actual practice of the Lord's Supper and baptism that grace is powerful and effective in the life of God's people.
Those ideologically set against Confessions during Mass will cite the Instruction Eucharisticum mysterium (May 25, 1967), which states: "The faithful are to be constantly encouraged to accustom themselves to going to confession outside the celebration of Mass." Happily, someone proposed a dubium to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments which clarified this point in its official publication Notitiae (#137 [Dec.
SIGNS OF FREEDOM: THEOLOGY OF THE CHRISTIAN SACRAMENTS. By German Martinez.
The criticism came in a document, Redemptionis Sacramentum (The Sacrament of Redemption), recently made public after being signed on March 25 by Cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
"People have lost a sense of the sacred and approach sacraments with little respect and reverence.
It is not liturgy until the Word is proclaimed and Sacraments rightly administered and the Spirit breathes life into the valley of dry bones.
We must vnderstand his wordes in the institution of his sacraments without figure in the substaunce of the celestial thyng of them" (Explication, sig.
And if we let it, our aspiration for Pinterest perfection can ruin the real celebration of the sacraments.
Pope Francis has taken ordination of women off the table, so perhaps it is time to put some shared gifts of the spirit and the theology of the sacraments on the table and include women.
This authority includes guarding, preserving, and governing the administration of His sacraments. If Christ had not left us this authority, the Sacraments, which He Himself instituted, would be subject to the capricious sway of human opinion and abuse.

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