Sacraments

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Etymology

Middle English sacrement, sacrament, from Anglo-French & Late Latin; Anglo-French, from Late Latin sacramentum, from Latin, oath of allegiance, obligation, from sacrare to consecrate

Definitions

b : a religious rite or observance comparable to a Christian sacrament
  • 2 capitalized a : communion 2a b : blessed sacrament
  • 3 : something likened to a religious sacrament <saw voting as a sacrament of democracy>

Description

A sacrament, as defined in Hexam's Concise Dictionary of Religion is what Roman Catholics believe to be "a rite in which God is uniquely active." Augustine of Hippo defined a Christian sacrament as "a visible sign of an invisible reality." The Anglican Book of Common Prayer speaks of them as "an outward and visible sign of an inward and invisible Grace." Examples of sacraments would be Baptism and the Eucharist." Therefore a sacrament is a religious symbol or often a rite which conveys divine grace, blessing, or sanctity upon the believer who participates in it, or a tangible symbol which represents an intangible reality. As defined above, an example would be baptism in water, representing (and conveying) the grace of the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Forgiveness of Sins, and membership into the Church. Anointing with holy anointing oil is another example which is often synonymous with receiving the Holy Spirit and salvation. Another way of looking at Sacraments is that they are an external and physical sign of the conferral of Sanctifying Grace.[1]