Will the Church Ever Add Any New Sacraments?

Nahidaly Fiscal receives the Sacraments of Confirmation and First Communion. (CNS photo/Sam Lucero, The Compass)

It seems unlikely that the Church will add any new Sacraments. Seven is a highly symbolic number now buoyed by centuries of tradition. And any new ritual would have to be of a truly universal character, in response to an emergent need of the global Church, not merely of a particular group or region. But this does not mean that the Church doesn’t continue to respond to the changing circumstances of each time and place. Under current liturgical practice, bishops’ conferences may approve blessings or other rituals in response to emerging pastoral needs. These rituals are referred to as sacramentals, sacred signs which bear a resemblance to the sacraments and prepare us to receive the grace of the Sacraments (see the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1667-1673).

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One example in wide use in the United States is the Order of Blessing on the Fifteenth Birthday, which is used to celebrate the Hispanic popular custom known as the quinceañera. The tradition of our faith is ever ancient and ever new, and in both time-honored and innovative ways, the Church will always help us to experience and celebrate God’s grace in our lives.

Neela Kale is a writer and catechetical minister based in the Archdiocese of Portland. She served with the Incarnate Word Missionaries in Mexico and earned a Master of Divinity at the Jesuit School of Theology. Some of her best theological reflection happens on two wheels as she rides her bike around the hills of western Oregon.