THE CATECHISM OF ST. PIUS X – The Sacraments

The Nature of the Sacraments

1 Q: What is treated of in the fourth part of the Christian Doctrine?

A: In the fourth part of the Christian Doctrine the sacraments are treated of.

2 Q: What is meant by the word sacrament?

A: By the word sacrament is meant a sensible and efficacious sign of grace, instituted by Christ to sanctify our souls.

3 Q: Why do you call the sacraments sensible and efficacious signs of grace?

A: I call the sacraments sensible and efficacious signs of grace because all the sacraments signify by means of sensible things, the divine grace which they produce in our souls.

4 Q: Show by an example how the sacraments are sensible and efficacious signs of grace.

A: In Baptism the pouring of water on the head of the person, and the words: “I baptize thee,” that is, I wash thee, “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,” are a sensible sign of that which Baptism accomplishes in the soul; just as water washes the body, so in like manner does the grace given in Baptism cleanse the soul from sin.

5 Q: How many sacraments are there, and what are they called?

A: There are seven sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance, Extreme Unction, Holy Orders and Matrimony.

6 Q: What is necessary to constitute a sacrament?

A: To constitute a sacrament it is necessary to have the matter, the form, and the minister, who must have the intention to do what the Church does.

7 Q: What is the matter of the sacraments?

A: The matter of the sacraments is the sensible thing made use of in effecting the sacrament; such as, for example, natural water in Baptism, oil and balsam in Confirmation.

8 Q: What is the form of the sacraments?

A: The form of the sacraments is the words which are pronounced in order to effect the sacrament.

9 Q: Who is the minister of the sacraments?

A: The minister of the sacraments is the person who administers or confers the sacrament.

The Principal Effect of the Sacraments: Grace

10 Q: What is grace?

A: Grace is an inward and supernatural gift given to us without any merit of our own, but through the merits of Jesus Christ in order to gain eternal life.

11 Q: How is grace distinguished?

A: Grace is divided into sanctifying grace, which is also called habitual grace, and actual grace.

12 Q: What is sanctifying grace?

A: Sanctifying grace is a supernatural gift inherent in our soul, and rendering us just, adopted children of God and heirs to Paradise.

13 Q: How many kinds of sanctifying grace are there?

A: Sanctifying grace is of two kinds: first grace and second grace.

14 Q: What is first grace?

A: First grace is that by means of which one passes from the state of mortal sin to the state of justice.

15 Q: And what is second grace?

A: Second grace is an increase of first grace.

16 Q: What is actual grace?

A: Actual grace is a supernatural gift which enlightens the mind, moves and strengthens the will in order to enable us to do good and avoid evil.

17 Q: Can we resist the grace of God?

A: Yes, we can resist the grace of God because it does not destroy our free will.

18 Q: By the aid of our own powers alone can we do anything available to life eternal?

A: Without the help of the grace of God, and by our own powers alone, we cannot do anything helpful to life everlasting.

19 Q: How is grace given us by God?

A: Grace is given us by God chiefly through the sacraments.

20 Q: Do the sacraments confer any other grace besides sanctifying grace?

A: Besides sanctifying grace the sacraments also confer sacramental grace.

21 Q: What is sacramental grace?

A: Sacramental grace consists in the right acquired in the reception of a sacrament, to have at the proper time the actual graces necessary to fulfill the obligations arising from the sacrament received. Thus when we were baptized we received the right to have the grace to live a Christian life.

22 Q: Do the sacraments always confer grace on those who receive them?

A: The sacraments always confer grace provided they are received with the necessary dispositions.

23 Q: Who gave to the sacraments the power of conferring grace?

A: Jesus Christ by His passion and death gave to the sacraments the power of conferring grace.

24 Q: What sacraments confer first sanctifying grace?

A: The sacraments which confer first sanctifying grace, and render us friends of God, are two: Baptism and Penance.

25 Q: How are these two sacraments called on that account?

A: These two sacraments, Baptism and Penance, are on that account called sacraments of the dead, because they are instituted chiefly to restore to the life of grace the soul dead by sin.

26 Q: Which are the sacraments that increase grace in those who already possess it?

A: The sacraments which increase grace in those who already possess it are the other five: Confirmation, Eucharist, Extreme Unction, Holy Orders and Matrimony, all of which confer second grace.

27 Q: On this account how are they called?

A: These five sacraments — Confirmation, Eucharist, Extreme Unction, Holy Orders and Matrimony — are on that account called sacraments of the living, because those who receive them must be free from mortal sin, that is, already alive through sanctifying grace.

28 Q: What sin does he commit who, conscious that he is not in a state of grace, receives one of the sacraments of the living?

A: He who conscious that he is not in a state of grace, receives one of the sacraments of the living, commits a serious sacrilege.

29 Q: What sacraments are most necessary for salvation?

A: The sacraments most necessary to salvation are two: Baptism and Penance. Baptism is necessary to all, and Penance is necessary to all who have sinned mortally after Baptism.

30 Q: What is the greatest of all the sacraments?

A: The greatest of all the sacraments is the Eucharist, because it contains not only grace, but also Jesus Christ the Author of Grace and of the sacraments.

The Character Impressed by some of the Sacraments

31 Q: What sacraments can be received only once?

A: The sacraments that can be received only once are three: Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders.

32 Q: Why can the three sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Orders be received only once?

A: The three sacraments, Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Orders can be received only once, because each of them imprints a special character on the soul.

33 Q: What is the character that each of the three sacraments, Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Orders imprints on the soul?

A: The character that each of the three sacraments, Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders imprints on the soul is a spiritual mark that is never effaced.

34 Q: What is the purpose of the character that these three sacraments impress on the soul?

A: The character that these three sacraments imprint on the soul, serves to mark us as members of Jesus Christ at Baptism, as His soldiers at Confirmation, and as His ministers at Holy Orders.

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