When Saint Paul wrote his first letter to the Corinthians he said that they should consider him (and the other apostles) “servants of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God” (1 Cor 4:1). When the word mystery was translated from Greek into Latin, it was normally translated as sacramentum; thus the sacraments are the mysteries of Christianity. In this sense, a mystery is not a whodunit but rather something that is too big and too deep for human minds to understand.
The sacraments are sacred mysteries, sacred because they are the means by which God becomes present in our lives as Catholic Christians. They are words and actions together. For example, the sacrament of baptism combines the words “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” with the action of pouring water over an infant’s head. The sacrament of Baptism brings the active presence of God into the life of the person baptized. By the sacrament the person is fundamentally changed and becomes a Christian. As such, the sacraments are not merely symbols. A symbol stands for something. A sacrament is the thing it stands for.
Catholics believe that Christ has given the Church seven sacraments: baptism, reconciliation, confirmation, Eucharist, marriage, the anointing of the sick, and holy orders. Please click on the links below for further information about each sacrament.