The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines the seven sacraments as “efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us. The visible rites by which the sacraments are celebrated signify and make present the graces proper to each sacrament. They bear fruit in those who receive them with the required dispositions.”
Speaking to the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis began a series of catecheses on the Sacraments, starting with Baptism.
He said that the Second Vatican Council tells us that the Church herself is a “Sacrament”, a grace-filled sign which makes Christ’s saving work present in history, through the power of the Holy Spirit.
And speaking of Baptism, the first of the Church’s seven Sacraments, Pope Francis said “it gives us new birth in Christ, makes us sharers in the mystery of his death and resurrection, grants the forgiveness of sin and brings us new freedom as God’s children and members of his Church”.
He urged us not to forget the great gift we have received. “Our baptism has changed us, given us a new and glorious hope, and empowered us to bring God’s redeeming love to all, particularly the poor, in whom we see the face of Christ. Our baptism has also given us a share in the Church’s mission of evangelization; as disciples, we are also missionaries”