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Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

A Short Course on Christianity

by Rev. Fr. Joseph T. Hilinski
Interfaith Director, The Catholic Diocese of Cleveland

Sacraments and Rituals

In the Christian community the word ordinance or sacrament is used for our sacred ceremonies. The two chief sacraments are Baptism and the Lord's Supper. These both have roots in Jewish practices: Baptism in the Jewish ritual baths, and the Lord's Supper (called also the Mass or Divine Liturgy) in the Passover meal and the Synagogue service. These two ceremonies are almost universally recognized as coming from Jesus Christ and are celebrated by all Christians with varying frequency. 

The attached table shows the comparison among the different Christian churches about these ceremonies and their meaning. There are five other sacraments that have a varied recognition: 

bullet Anointing of the Sick
bulletPenance (confessing of sins)
bullet Holy Orders (Ordaining ministers for the church) 
bulletConfirmation (Chrismation)

Protestant Churches are those churches that grew out of the 16th Century Reformation of the Catholic Church of the West. Eastern Christians never experienced such an event. These Protestant Christians focused on what they deemed were the essentials as set out in the Christian scriptures and thereby did not consider as necessary certain practices such as the five mentioned sacraments. Though it is somewhat simplified, it might prove adequate for this presentation to say that these Christians insisted on Faith Alone, Christ Alone, and Scriptures Alone. But we must clarify for you that even though the five other sacraments may not be regarded as of directly of Jesus, even Protestant churches maintain ceremonies connected with ordination of ministers, marriage, praying over the sick, confessing of sins and confirmation. For again their roots are deep in the Jewish tradition and these rituals are part and parcel of the Christian inheritance of the ages.

See Also: Christian Sacraments

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