From Academic Kids

A sacrament is a Christian rite that mediates divine grace.

Among many Protestants, the word mediates would mean only that it is a visible symbol or manifestation of invisible divine grace.

Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians hold that sacraments are not mere symbols, but cause their recipients to receive divine grace.

Christian churches and sects are divided regarding the number and operation of the sacraments, but they are generally held to have been instituted by Jesus. Sacraments are usually administered by the clergy to a recipient or recipients, and are generally understood to involve visible and invisible components. The invisible component (manifested inwardly) is understood to be God's grace working in the sacrament's participants, while the visible (or outward) component entails the use of water, wine, or oil that is blessed or consecrated.



The term sacrament is derived from the Latin sacramentum, meaning "a consecrated thing or act," i.e. "something holy"; '"to consecrate", which itself was a Church Latin translation of the Greek mysterion, meaning "mystery".


The seven sacraments traditionally recognized by Roman Catholicism are (see also Catholic sacraments):

In addition to these seven, some Christian groups (Anabaptist and Brethren groups, in particular) consider foot washing to be a sacrament (see Gospel of John 13:14).

The seven sacraments accepted by Roman Catholicism are generally accepted by Eastern Orthodoxy and Oriental Orthodoxy, but these traditions do not limit the number of sacraments to these seven.

The numeration, naming, and understanding of sacraments and the adoption of the remaining sacraments vary according to denomination.

Most Protestants consider only baptism and Communion, to be sacraments, as only these were directly instituted by Jesus. They believe that the other five rites are not made sacraments by the New Testament. So while almost all Protestant churches have marriage ceremonies, and many have ordained clergy and a ceremony conferring ordination, they do not consider these rites to be sacraments.

As is often the case, views within the churches of the Anglican Communion vary. Traditionally, Baptism and Communion are considered to be the two great sacraments of the Gospel. Anglo-Catholics have always counted the sacraments at seven. Many others do now as well, with the other five considered lesser sacraments. The catechism of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America states: "God does not limit himself to these rites; they are patterns of countless ways by which God uses material things to reach out to us."

Roman Catholics also have sacramentals, acts of worship that differ from sacraments proper, but which are also means of grace. Items such as the rosary or the various scapulars and holy medals issued by some Roman Catholic groups are counted among these sacramentals.

For the Eastern Orthodox Christian the term “Sacrament” is a Westernism that seeks to classify something that is rather difficult to classify. Preferably the term “Mystery” is used, the reason being that the “How it is possible” is unanswerable to human understanding. God touches us through material means such as water, wine, bread, oil, incense, candles, altars, icons, etc. How he does this is a Mystery. On a broad level, the Mysteries are an affirmation of the goodness of created matter, and are an emphatic declaration of what that matter was originally created to be. On a specific level, while not systematically enumerating Mysteries, the most profound Mystery is without a doubt, the Eucharist in which direct communion with God occurs. This perceived vagueness is considered by the Orthodox to be piety and respect for something profound and incomprehensible. Orthodox do not like to try and classify things to any great degree as this is seen to be a fruitless and unnecessary waste of time.

The Community of Christ practices eight offical sacraments along with seeing other rites as sacramental in nature.

The Salvation Army does not practice formal sacraments for a variety of reasons, but does not however forbid its members from receiving sacraments in other denominations [1] (

Quakers do not practice formal sacraments, believing that all activities should be considered holy. The Salvation Army also does not practice sacraments, believing that it is better to concentrate on the reality behind the symbols.

See also




  • These Are the Sacraments: The Life-Giving Mysteries of the Orthodox Church by Anthony Coniaris (1981, ISBN 0937032220)

Roman Catholic

  • Doors to the Sacred: A Historical Introduction to Sacraments in the Catholic Church by Joseph Martos (2001, ISBN 0764807188)
  • Sacrament: The Language of God's Giving by David Noel Power (1999, ISBN 0824517989)



  • Grace Upon Grace by Gregory S. Neal (2000, ISBN 0967907403)
  • Sacraments & Discipleship: Understanding the Sacraments in a United Methodist Context by Mark W. Stamm (2001, ISBN 0881772852)
  • The Sacraments in Protestant Practice and Faith by James F. White (1999, ISBN 0687034027)

External links

de:Sakrament eo:Sakramento fr:Sacrement id:Sakramen it:Sacramento (cristianesimo) nl:Sacrament ja:サクラメント no:Sakrament pl:Sakrament fi:Sakramentti sv:Sakrament


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