What are the Catholic Sacraments of Initiation?

If you’re a member of an organization, you may have had to go through certain initiation rites. These are rituals that help you learn about the organization, grow deeper in relationship with others in the group, and commit yourself to membership.

The Catholic Church has rituals of initiation as well — three sacraments that impart God’s grace on us in the early days of forming our commitment to the Church.

Baptism: This is the first sacrament of initiation. Because we are not God, we have a weak human nature that is prone to sin. Being born into this condition is what we call Original Sin. So, we strive in baptism to name our weakness and free ourselves from the bonds of sin through the waters of baptism. A priest pours water over our heads (whether we are an infant or choose to be baptized as an adult), and this initiates us into the Christian community.

Confirmation: Sometimes our affiliation with a group or organization may become stale and flat for us. Looking more deeply at why we choose to be associated with them in the first place might lead us to a deeper relationship or to sever the bond. Confirmation is the sacrament that leads us to decide to deepen our relationship with God.

Eucharist: This is the source and summit of our Catholic faith. It is the ritual Jesus performed with his disciples the night before he died and that we recall each time we celebrate the mass. Jesus offers us his body and blood in the forms of bread and wine, and in doing so we are mystically united to him and to the entire body of Christ, the Church, the people of God.