The Sacraments of Religious Initiation, know them

The Sacraments of Religious Initiation, know them

Are the sacraments of initiation an invention of the Church? Definitely not, Jesus left them as a task for his apostles so that they would be guarantors of its fulfillment and fulfill the function of delivering God’s grace to us. If you need reliable information about the sacraments of Christian initiation, what they are, for children, we invite you to visit this article.

The Sacraments of religious initiation

Before properly starting with the development of this topic that excites many, it is necessary to make some preliminary considerations that will allow us to have a better idea of ​​what the rituals stipulated by the Catholic Church are to receive the grace of God. Very briefly we will refer to what the sacraments are and why they are important.

What is the sacrament?

The sacraments are those through which Jesus expresses himself by divine grace, to forgive all our sins. It is he who established them so that they would remain under the protection of the church.

An explanation of this can be made with an example of daily life, that is, suppose that we have a deficiency of some nutrient in our body, then our doctor will indicate a diet that contains foods rich in that nutrient that we have in a very low proportion in Our organism. Just as it happens with the sacraments, when we receive them through them we are receiving the grace of God.

Bishops and Priests are empowered by the church to administer the sacraments, and the first thing we receive to free ourselves from original sin and consider ourselves as children of God is baptism.

Elements present in the sacrament

  1. The subject is the person who receives it. 
  2. Matter, are the natural elements through which it is administered. These are the water for baptism, the holy oil for confirmation, and the host for the Eucharist.
  3. The form is what is written that the priest must express so that the grace of God arrives.
  4. Minister, is the person invested with authority by the church to administer the sacrament.
  5. Effects, is what produces receiving the sacrament.

sacraments of christian initiation

Christian initiation is simply the fulfillment of certain processes and rituals that are required by the church, with which it is sought that the person pass from one condition to another state within the religion. That is, it is the process by which we become or transform into Christians.

When a child or adult makes this transition, between life in original sin towards inclusion as a member of the Christian community, they see themselves transformed inside and committed to the faith of power and wanting to live as a child of God. This transformation is thanks to baptism that makes him part of the Christian community, with confirmation he is able to work for the good of the community that gives him shelter and feeds his soul and spirit, through the Eucharist.

With the initiation rite the body is washed so that there can be an effective purification of the ama; the soul is consecrated through the use of the holy oils and finally the soul feeds and quenches its thirst with the blood of Jesus, thanks to the Eucharist.

Initiation rites, only for Catholics?

The initiation ritual is not exclusive to the Catholic religion, we can find it in most religions, these types of rituals were very common in primitive cultures. It is very easy to assume that many of our Christian rituals are the product of a series of adaptations of those ancient practices, and that our church adapted them so that they were in harmony with the word of God.

Christian initiation does not necessarily go chronologically to the stage of puberty as in other cultures, where the male must first reach the age of maturity to be considered within his community as an adult. Such is the case that without being adolescents they are not subjected to tests to be considered as warriors, they cannot have a wife, they do not have participation in the meetings of the tribe, among others.

In the Catholic religion there are two types of initiation: for children and adults.

Initiation for children

It is the preparation of those children who received Christ through baptism when they were just babies. These children must go through a study of catechesis, accompanied by the sacraments of the Eucharist and confirmation, throughout their childhood and adolescence.

initiation for adults

It is designed and directed for those adults of legal age, that is, all those whose age is over 18, and who have been baptized or have not been baptized while still very young. It consists of a preparation that addresses the knowledge of the word of God, the true meaning of being Catholic and a deep awakening of the spiritual side of each believer.

the sacrament of baptism

In order to comply with this Catholic rite, it is necessary that the person who is going to receive God’s grace be immersed in water or, failing that, have a jet of water poured over his head, and to the rhythm of this, he cries out in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

With the sacrament of baptism, original sin is forgiven us, in addition to all those venial sins that we may have committed before receiving God’s grace. As everyone who receives the sacrament of baptism also receives the seal of approval of Jesus, this condition is accompanied by the possibility of being able to live with the Holy Trinity, with Jesus and the church and the theological virtues.

principle of baptism

Through the sacraments of initiation, and especially this sacrament, is by which we are all born to a life guided by the word of God, with the invocation of the Holy Trinity that acts with the intersection of baptismal water.

For every believer, baptism is the support of a life based on Christianity, it is the entrance to coexistence with spirituality, and it gives us the access key to obtain the rest of the sacraments of initiation. Through baptism, we obtain the grace to be free from sin and transformed as true children of God, actively joining the church and participating in its evangelizing mission (Church Catechism 1213).

This sacrament owes its name to the fact that the element used to develop this rite of the church is water. Its name is derived from the Greek word “ baptizein ”, which means to immerse or introduce into the water. When the Christian is submerged under water, the death of all sin takes place, and the resurrection with Him to obtain a new life, in common union with the church and faith in God.

“to sanctify her, having cleansed her with the washing of water by the word”

Ephesians 5:26

Texts where baptism is established

In the biblical texts we can find early ideas of this religious fact, and how water is the inseparable protagonist of the ritual of baptism, which is part of the sacraments of Christian initiation. Like, for example, when the blessing of the baptismal water is recounted, at the Easter Vigil.

In the book of Genesis in chapter 2 and verses 4 to 6, we are told how water is the source of all life and promotes the fertility of plants and animals on earth. God sees that all this is good in order to continue with the creation of a propitious environment so that man made in his likeness could populate the earth.

“From here the heavens and the earth originated when they were created, it is the day that God made the earth and the heavens”

“And every plant of the field before its seed sprouted in the ground, and every herb of the field before it flourished; because God had not yet caused it to rain on the earth, nor was there anyone who could till the land”

“Only the vapor of water rose to the sky from the earth, which would irrigate the entire face of the earth.”

Genesis 2:4-6

In Peter 3:20-21, mention is made of another of the anticipated ideas of biblical events, when it refers to Noah’s ark and how a few were saved through water.

“Those who previously were not able to obey the word of life, when they had to wait with great patience trusting in God in Noah’s time, while he dedicated himself to building the ark, in whose boat very few people, in fact, eight, could be saved by water.”

“The rite of baptism that corresponds to this now saves us, not only cleanses us from the filthiness of the flesh, it is also a source of aspiration to have a greater understanding of God,

by the resurrection of Jesus Christ”

Pedro 3:20-21

We can also see how the water has acted as a trigger for liberation, when we read the story of what happened when the people of Israel, who were slaves of Egypt, are about to pass through the Red Sea. Here liberation is announced through the mediation of baptism, since they enter the water as slaves and leave it as free men and women.

The announcements of the power of water as a liberating element, have their highest peak in their actions in Jesus, when he receives from John the Baptist, the blessing through baptism, one of the sacraments of initiation, which was destined to liberate the men of sin. However, Jesus without having any sin, submitted to fulfill the rite to honor all justice, the Holy Spirit descends on him and the Father announces that Jesus is his beloved son.

“Jesus said to him, leave because that is how it is convenient for us to fulfill all justice. So he left him”.

 “And Jesus, after being baptized, immediately came out of the water; and then the sky opened wide and once opened, they could see the Spirit of God descending in the form of a dove, and it rested on him “

“And a voice was heard from heaven, and said: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

Mateo 3:15-17

Another demonstration of the power of baptism is observed in what is written regarding the fact of the resurrection of Jesus, where he confers on his apostles the mission of traveling the earth, so that they baptize people and free them from sin.

“And Jesus approached them and with a subtle but firm voice said to them: All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”

“That is why they must go and convert all the people of the nations they will visit, through baptism in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit”

Mateo 28:18-19

Since the day of Pentecost, that is, since the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Church has been in charge of administering baptism, as it was taught by Jesus. Also Saint Peter, on that day calls for them to convert to Christ and be baptized so that they can obtain forgiveness for all their sins. And also in the Council of Trent, the declaration of baptism is made as a doctrine of faith and which was instituted by Christ.

Baptism as the only salvation

God Himself affirms that it is through baptism that we are won to receive a pass to salvation.

“What I tell you is very true, whoever is born in faith from water and the Spirit, will have the door open to the kingdom of God. Who did not, he will not be worthy of my kingdom”

Juan 3:5

For this reason, he exhorts his disciples to go through all the nations, and evangelize and baptize everyone.

“And Jesus approached them and with a subtle but firm voice said to them: All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”

“That is why they must go and convert all the people of the nations they will visit, through baptism in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit”

Mateo 28:18-19

This is what motivates us to affirm that the rites of the sacraments of initiation, and especially that of baptism, are of vital importance for all those to whom their salvation was announced through the gospel.

“Whoever is able to believe and is baptized will be saved from sin. But if he doesn’t believe, then he will have no choice but to be damned.”

Marcos 16:16

Jesus, way of eternal life

As Jesus is the only valid way to reach eternal life, no one can be saved without having received the sacraments of initiation, including baptism. As every norm has its exceptions, sometimes we are faced with situations that, for various extraordinary reasons, in which the person who could not receive this grace at a certain time, can receive water baptism through the following ways:

Sacraments of initiation, Baptism of desire

It is known as Baptism of desire, that is obtained as a result of an explicit request from an adult, who asks or expresses his desire to be baptized, and he dies before being able to receive the sacraments of initiation, and this must be accompanied by the repentance.

Those who still do not have the joy of having known the revelation, through the word of God, and are repentant, in compliance with the natural law, can obtain their salvation by celebrating the ritual of baptism of desire. It is important that we keep in mind that God deeply desires that all, absolutely all of his children be saved and that they be reached by his infinite mercy.

baptism of blood

It is that type of baptism reserved for those people who die as a result of martyrdom suffered, for having confessed their Christian faith or for having lived under the practices of Christian virtue.

For those children who have died without having received baptism, the Church places them in the hands of divine mercy, and access to eternal life is granted.

“God wants all his children to obtain salvation, to know and come closer to the truth.”

“There is only one God, and only one interlocutor between God and men, and that is the man Jesus”

Timothy 2:4-5

Jesus has a special affection for children, which allows us to be certain that there is indeed a way of salvation for infants who die if they have complied with the ritual that is established for the sacraments of initiation, such as baptism. .

“When Jesus saw it, he was indignant, and said to them: Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for of such is the kingdom of God.”

Marcos 10:14

Sacraments of initiation: The Eucharist

The Eucharist is nothing other than the sacrifice of the body and blood of Jesus, which was instituted to be perpetuated through the centuries, until his second coming. Entrusting to the Holy Church, the memorial of his sacrifice on the cross, his death and his resurrection.

It is therefore an unequivocal sign of unity, the bond with charity and part of the Easter banquet, with which Jesus is received, filling our souls with the grace of God, giving us the possibility of having eternal life.

Jesus established the Eucharist on Holy Thursday, during the celebration of the Last Supper with his apostles, the Eucharist is the high point of all life under Christian precepts. When we celebrate this act we join the liturgy and move towards eternal life, the church has been faithful to this mandate, that is why it always celebrates the Eucharist, especially on Sunday, the day of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus.

“I received from the Lord the same thing that I transmitted to you: that the Lord Jesus, the night he was betrayed, took bread”

“And after giving thanks, he broke it and said: This bread is my body, which I give up for you; do this in memory of me”

“In the same way, after supper, he took the cup and said: This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink from it, in memory of me”

“For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes”

Corinthians 11:23-26

To celebrate the development of the Eucharist, it must be taken into account that it can take place in two moments, namely:

  • The liturgy of the Word

This includes the proclamation and the power to listen to the word of God.

  • the eucharistic liturgy

We observe it when it is presented by the minister of the church, the bread and the wine, in addition to the Eucharistic prayers, which are accompanied by the words of consecration, and communion.

Jesus makes himself present in the Eucharist in a true and real way, through his body and his blood, with full soul and divinity. The son of God, completely, in the conjunction of God and man, is presented in the ritual in a sacramental way, that is, he is announced under the Eucharistic forms of bread and wine. When the bread is broken, at no time is there a division of the body of Christ, since He is fully present in each part of the Eucharist.

The sacraments of initiation, especially the sacrament of the Eucharist, need to be worshiped as if they were worshiping God himself, throughout the development of the Eucharistic celebration. All believers have the duty to actively participate in the holy masses on Sundays and the rest of the festivals called by the church.

Communion must be received at least on Easter day, and in order to receive it we must be previously prepared under the grace of God, have no conscience of mortal sin and be an active participant in the Catholic Church.

Mentions that are made in the writings of this sacrament

Several mentions can be found in the old testament of this ritual as an important part of the sacraments of Christian initiation.

One of these episodes is the reference to how the people of Israel fed on manna, during their pilgrimage to cross the desert.

rain of bread

“The entire Israelite community set out from Elim and came to the Wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai. This happened on the fifteenth day of the second month, reckoned from their departure from Egypt.”

“There, in the desert, the whole community murmured against Moses and Aaron: How we wish that the Lord had taken our lives in Egypt!, the Israelites told them. There we sat around pots of meat and ate bread until we were full. You have brought us to this desert to starve the entire community!”

“Then the Lord said to Moses: I am going to rain down bread from heaven. The people must go out every day to collect their daily ration. I’m going to put them to the test, to see whether or not they comply with my instructions. On the sixth day they will collect a double portion, and they will leave all this prepared “

“Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites: This evening you will know that it was the Lord who brought you out of Egypt, and tomorrow morning you will see the glory of the Lord. He already knows that you are gossiping against him. We are nobody, for you to gossip against us.”

Exodus 16:1-7

Another event to highlight that is part of the biblical story is the sacrifice made by the king and priest Melchizedek, who makes an offering in thanksgiving for Abraham’s victory, and offers bread and wine.

“Then Melchizedek, king of Salem and priest of God Most High, brought out bread and wine; and he blessed him, saying: Blessed be Abraham by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand. And Abraham gave him a tenth of everything.”

Genesis 14:18-20

The dedication and obedience of Abraham, we can observe in the biblical account, where he is willing to sacrifice his only son, to fulfill God’s designs.

“Then Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to sacrifice his only son. But the angel of the Lord called him from heaven and said: Abraham, Abraham! And he replied: Here I am. And the angel said: Do not stretch out your hand against your son, nor do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.”

Genesis 22:10-12

In the same way, the Eucharist is mentioned, with a prophetic nuance in the Old Testament, by Solomon in the book of Proverbs. In this, all the servants are ordered to come to eat and drink the wine that he had prepared for them. A very similar fact is reported by the prophet Zechariah, when he mentions the wheat of the elect and the wine that he purifies.

“Wisdom built her house, erected her seven pillars, has prepared a banquet, mixed the wine and laid her table. She has called her servants, and over the highest of the city she cried, saying: Come here, and to those who do not believe she said: Come, eat my bread and drink the wine that I have prepared “

Proverbs 9:1

Jesus himself, after having multiplied the loaves, announces his real presence in Capernaum, when he says: I am the bread of life, and whoever eats me will live forever, because the bread that I will give him is my own flesh, to grant world life.

“Then Jesus said to them: Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. Because the bread of God is the one that comes down from heaven, and gives life to the world. Then they said to him: Lord, always give us this bread. Jesus said to them: I am the bread of life; Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”

“But I already told you that, although you have seen me, you do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me; and whoever comes to me I will by no means cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me”

Juan 6:32-38

The Eucharist is declared as a truth of faith by the Council of Trent, in addition to considering it as a true and faithful representative of the sacrament of initiation, since, through it, external signs can be made present: matter with the presence of bread and wine; the form with the conferral of the grace of God, and finally the institution by Jesus.

Jesus is very clear in affirming and ordering that whoever wishes to enjoy eternal life must celebrate and rejoice in the sacraments of initiation, and especially the ritual of the Eucharist, and receive his body in ours. He expresses that we must eat and drink his blood to achieve our salvation.

“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood will have eternal life; and I will resurrect him on the morrow.”

Juan 6:54

Sacraments of initiation: Transubstantiation

The term transubstantiation has a philosophical background, which tries to explain how the bread and wine can be transformed into the body and blood of Jesus, without losing their external appearance. The presence of Christ is real, there can be no question about that, it is a truth that was revealed to us thousands of years ago. But this statement as a dogma is inconsistent with reason.

The Church affirms that, through the sacrament of the Eucharist, a special and wonderful transformation of the entire essence of the bread is generated in the body of Jesus, and of the entire essence of the wine it becomes the Blood. Such a conversion is what the Church calls transubstantiation, which is a part of the sacraments of religious initiation.

The foundation of transubstantiation presupposes the change that occurs when the words are pronounced at the consecration in the mass, and through which the bread and wine are transformed into the body and blood of Jesus Christ, but the forms are maintained. how we see bread and wine.

Obviously, by faith, the essence of these two elements such as bread and wine is transformed, and Jesus is presented to us in a real way, although we cannot see him. This is thanks to the divine intervention of the Father of him, our Creator.

The confirmation

Since the old alliance, it was announced by the prophets that the Holy Spirit would rest on the head of the messiah, and that this event would be expected by all peoples. The whole life and purpose of Jesus, passes in a perfect union with the Holy Spirit. The apostles also received the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, and gave the announcement of all the wonders of God.

During all these centuries that preceded our current history, the Church has remained in communion with the Spirit and developed strategies that allow it to transmit the message and it can be transferred to its children.

“When the day of Pentecost had come, being all gathered in the same place. Suddenly, a noise came out of the sky as if it were a strong gust of wind and completely filled the entire house where they were gathered. Then tongues of fire appeared to them, which divided and rested on each one of them. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different languages, as the Spirit enabled them to express themselves.

Acts 2:1-4

Why is it called confirmation?

This ritual, which is part of the sacraments of Christian initiation, is known as confirmation, since it confirms and reinforces baptismal grace. The essential rite consists of the anointing on the believer’s forehead, with the holy chrism, which goes together with the imposition of hands, which the priest does when pronouncing the following words:

“Receive by this sign the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

The effect that confirmation produces in the individual is the special display of joy of the Holy Spirit, which prints in the soul a sacramental character and growth under baptismal grace. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are strengthened and the union between Christ and the church is strengthened.

The confirmation ritual can only be received once, and the requirement to obtain it is to have received the initiation sacraments of baptism. So that this can be received with fruits and be under the grace of God. Those empowered to perform the rite of confirmation are the Bishops, although this can be delegated to a priest, if necessary.

It is from Confirmation that we become truly mature Christians, and are prepared to lead a perfect and more active Christian life. Therefore it is the sacrament of Christian maturity and that makes us capable of being witnesses of Jesus.

Sacraments of initiation, basics of confirmation

The sacrament of confirmation according to the Council of Trent, declared it as a sacrament that Jesus instituted. Fact that was rejected by the protesters, arguing that the exact date of its institution was not specified. As Catholics we are convinced that Jesus established it, since only God is the only one who can give grace to an external sign.

If an exhaustive review is made in the old testament, we can find numerous quotes from the prophets, of how the Holy Spirit could work, at the time of the messiah, in addition to the announcement by Jesus himself, about the coming of the Holy Spirit to finish his work. Such advertisements make us see that a sacrament other than baptism was being addressed.

Stories in the New Testament make us see that the apostles, following the will of Jesus, toured the towns and laid hands, communicating the gift of the Holy Spirit, to complement the grace of baptism.

“Which, having come, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit”

“When the apostles who were in Jerusalem found out that Samaria had accepted the Word of God, they sent Peter and John to them.”

“These went down and prayed for them to receive the Holy Spirit”

“For it had not yet descended upon any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.”

“Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit”

“When Simon saw that through the imposition of the hands of the apostles the Spirit was given, he offered them money saying”

“Give me this power too, so that he on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”

“Pedro replied: Let your money go to perdition and you with it; for you have thought that the gift of God is bought with money.”

Acts, 8:14-20

Confirmation in the first church

It is said that, in the first church, the three sacraments of initiation, such as baptism, confirmation and the Eucharist, were celebrated in the same ceremony with the presence of adults who studied catechism at the Easter Vigil.

Each subject of instruction was lowered into a font in which they were baptized, invoking the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Once the immersion in water was over, they indicated that he should ascend and was dressed in white, and then the bishop laid hands on him and anointed them with the holy chrism. Then he was to go in procession to a place arranged in the middle of the community, and where he was to participate in the Eucharist for the first time.

The fact of making the separation of the anointing by the bishop, from the ritual of sacraments of initiation of baptism, originated for multiple reasons in the Western Church. One of these reasons for such a separation was due to the proclamation of the Roman emperor Constantine, declaring Christianity as the official state religion, this fact occurred in the fourth century.

Christianity spread from the big cities to the rural fields. Generating with this, that for the bishops it was impossible for them to preside over each one of the baptisms, due to the numerous obligations as part of the government of the Church. That is why the development of the sacraments of initiation was delegated to the priests, and only the anointing of oil and laying on of hands was reserved for them.

confirmation theology

The sacrament of baptism was part of the initial gift of the Spirit, while confirmation was considered the sacrament of the total fullness of the Spirit with its seven gifts. In the Middle Ages, it was very common for the initiation sacramental ritual of confirmation to be carried out at the age of adolescence, thus changing an ancient custom of celebrating it in childhood.

Theologians had the perception, and began to teach, that confirmation corresponded to the sacrament of maturity. Those who received it were considerate, old enough to enjoy an active and responsible religious life. Whoever received the sacrament of confirmation received great strength in the growth of the gifts of the Spirit to fight, suffer and die for the faith.

confirmation today

There persists the idea that the sacrament of confirmation is synonymous with maturity. However, having this sacrament does not take for granted that the person is already sufficiently mature and consolidated in the faith. Nor does it mean that the anointing with chrism instantly generates such maturity. Transformation in faith is a process, which occurs gradually, and which, through confirmation, is given more strength.

Currently the church sees confirmation as a sacrament that is closely linked to baptism and the Eucharist. When these three sacraments of initiation are intertwined, they form a path through which the Holy Spirit guides the believer to full life with the Christian community.

Confirmation is not a portion that completes baptism, since baptism was never incomplete. On the contrary, the two sacraments are united in the process of Christian initiation.

Confirmation celebrates the fullness of the Holy Spirit within the Church. The same Spirit of Jesus, the same one that was able to transform the apostles, descends on the members of the Church. In accordance with the current precepts of the Church, through confirmation, each one of the Catholics is inserted in a perfect way in the Church, and they behave as true children of Jesus, committed to the multiplication of the word, as an evangelizing agent.

Sacraments of initiation in the New Testament

The theological terminology that the Priests used to mention the Christian rites was that of Mysterion , the Latin term Sacramentum is a translation of the Hebrew and Greek Bible into Latin (Vulgate), which was entrusted to Jerome of Estridón, in the year 382 after Christ.

The expression Mysterion is usually associated with the divinity and its secrets, as well as with the advice that we must follow to face when the moment of final judgment occurs. In the gospel scriptures we find it in Mark 4:11

“And he said to them, I have made known to you the mystery of the kingdom of God; and also to those who are outside, I have shown them in parables”

Saint Paul in his letters uses the term Mysterion many times, to highlight God’s plan of salvation, and that it would be completed by his son Jesus. With the completion of the end of history, for the simple reason that there is no possibility of a new alliance.

The Catholic Church gives another nuance to the biblical passages, addressing the idea that, to the extent that its believers participate in this salvation and are active members of the church. On the other hand, the Mysterion or sacraments of initiation, are the signs that the divine will sends, so that we can all be saved through the intermediation of the Church.

Sacraments of initiation through history

greek history

  • Period between the 1st and 2nd centuries

Between the first and second centuries, there are writings that refer to the word Mysterion, alluding to a “deed of salvation”. Such is the case of one of the church fathers such as Saint Ignatius of Antioch, who affirms that the Mysterion are all those facts that pursue salvation, of the life of Christ. On the other hand, Saint Justin makes use of the term Mysterion, to refer to the prophetic figures that appear in the old testament.

  • Alexandrian Fathers, 3rd century

The Mysterion or sacrament in this particular period, makes us see that there is an unrevealed relationship between the image and the original model, which is made known to those who participate in the initiation ritual, through a teaching. This is how the Christian rites and the actions of salvation of men have been applied, always under the tutelage of God.

Saint Augustine defined the origin of sacramental theology as: the sign is everything that can be found in a tangible reality, that is capable of connecting with the reality that we know exists, but that we cannot touch.

  • 4th and 5th century

Motivated by the loss of validity of the unbaptized, the use of the word mysterion increased, since there was no room for it to be confused with the Gnostic rites, that is, that mixture of Christian and Judaic beliefs. Saint Athanasius uses the term to give meaning to the purpose of salvation, which was carried out in ancient times and is currently celebrated in the liturgy.

Bishops Basil the Great and Gregory of Nyssa, as well as the theologian Gregory Nazianzen, emphasize how the divinity intervenes in the world. This is how the purpose of salvation is divided into the three most important events of that elevation, such as: the incarnation, Pentecost and the Eucharist.

Very frequently the word mysterion is used by the patriarch of Constantinople John Chrysostom, to refer to all Christian rites. The Greek bishop Cyril of Jerusalem relates the term mysterion, with the act of salvation that is performed by God, through Christ when the liturgy is celebrated, it is for this reason that his mystagogic catecheses, that is, the introduction of the faithful to the experience of the sacraments of initiation: baptism, confirmation and the Eucharist.

For the Byzantine theologian Pseudo Dionisio Areopagita, the beliefs that the mysterion or sacraments are related to the rites of the Church, become something methodical. Starting with the actions that originate in the rituals, and that, through the invocation of the church, to the Holy Spirit, with the permission of the saving grace of God, it acts on people, it also makes an identification of three aspects super important of the term mysterion to know:

  1. Consecrations, which group baptism, the Eucharist and confirmation.
  2. The consecrators, which are: the bishop, priest and deacon.
  3. Consecrated, they belong to the lower orders, the purified or the monks.

latin history

  • During the third century

Throughout this century, it was very common for the term sacramentum to be used instead of the word mysterion. Tertullian, also known as one of the fathers of the church, and based on the legal knowledge that was available, gave an applicability to the term sacramentum, of a religious nature and being able to apply it to baptism. According to Tertullian, in baptism there is a pact between God and the recipient of the sacrament.

  • Sacramentum in the fourth and fifth centuries

During this period, it was very common for the expressions sacramentum and mysterion to be used, giving it the same phonetic value, in relation to how it is used for the liturgical acts of the Church. The bishop and theologian Ambrose of Milan took it upon himself to take the term a little further, making reflections that were not very well received by his contemporary peers. He understood the term sacramentum as an accumulation of the facts of salvation and the encounter with Jesus.

Saint Augustine of Hippo reflected on the term, and expressed that it was used to highlight the rites that were appropriated by the people, as well as those that were chosen by the Church. He also appropriates the term to refer to the figures or signs of Christ, which are mentioned in the Old Testament.

Sacraments of initiation and the Scholastic Philosophy

Scholasticism is a philosophical and theological current that had great relevance during the Middle Ages, it materialized in integrating reason and faith. Thanks to this movement, it was possible to consolidate all religious currents. For scholasticism, thought had to be subordinated to the principle of authority.

After the Germanic invasion during the Middle Ages, the philosophy that served as the basis for the reflection of the priests was greatly affected and lost much of its influence. The perception that the term mysterion had, was only reduced to the realm of the truth that was revealed and that demands an approval of faith.

The sacrament remained to indicate a concrete sign, through which God can act. As the perception of the religious reference began to lose relevance in the knowledge of being and was only used merely as a reference, the holistic understanding of the doctrine was affected, referring to the true existence of Jesus in the Eucharist.

The Assembly of Trent

The Assembly of Trento or Council of Trent, was an ecumenical assembly of the Catholic Church, which took place between the years 1545 and 1563. It took place in Italy in a city called Trento, hence the name that was adopted. The reason for this council to be convened was to give answers to the Protestant reforms, and to clarify certain and specific issues of Catholic doctrine.


For reformist theology, there is a total denial of how useful the sacraments of initiation can be, in accordance with grace, since they basically consider this as a practice of the human being, which does not transcend beyond divine action. , such an affirmation is based on the biblical scriptures that do not explicitly refer to the sacraments being granted, specifically in that way.

The Augustinian Catholic friar Martin Luther was a staunch defender that the sacraments became multiplier agents of faith, which allows the growth of the belief of those who have not been able to obtain salvation. Christian symbols, regardless of what they are, will never be able to replace faith. This perception of the sacrament, managed to reduce them to two, and they were called Ordinances , these were baptism and communion.


Protestants and evangelicals have the notion that the ordinances are only symbolic representations of the legacy of Christ, in his gospel message. That is to say, Christ lived, he had to die, in order to later rise from the dead, he ascended to heaven, and very soon he will return.

These ordinances are established thanks to three factors:

  • Christ instituted it.
  • Knowledge was conferred on the apostles.
  • They were practiced by the early church.

The Council of Trent

The assembly of Trento was completely dedicated to addressing the subject of the sacraments. Although it is true that they did not generate a definitive concept of what the sacraments are, they established the expression: that it is the “visible form of invisible grace”. In another order of ideas, they specified the establishment of seven sacraments and the acceptance that the sacraments were instituted by Jesus.

It was also established to this day that there were three sacraments of initiation, and that only through them were all the firmness of faith granted to the believer, and that, therefore, it could only be received once. These sacraments are baptism, confirmation, and the Eucharist.

The Counter Reformation

The proponent theologians of the Counter Reformation, addressed the issues of how to define the sacrament, the way in which grace acts causally in the believer and what is the true nature of sacramental grace.

Requirements for the celebration of Baptism

It is very valid that we still have some doubts in relation to what are the sacraments of initiation? , but it is something very simple and to remember and that with the permanent handling of these terms in a very short time we can appropriate the knowledge, these are the sacraments of baptism, the Eucharist and confirmation.

But since baptism is the most prominent and promoted by the Catholic community, below, we will mention the basic requirements necessary to be able to celebrate it.

  • The water for baptism must be natural and clean water.
  • The baptismal font or the container in which the water is prepared must be in the best clean conditions.
  • If the ceremony will take place in a very cold place, it is advisable to keep the water as warm as possible.
  • The water for baptism must have been blessed, preferably on the day of the ceremony. In case the baptistery is built in such a way that the water is from a living source, the blessing of said stream of water will be carried out.
  • The proper words to confer baptism in the Church are: “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
  • Those children born recently should preferably be baptized on the same day, and in a community manner.

It is important that the priests register very carefully in the baptismal book the full names of the baptized, and remembering that they must also appear registered, the names of the priest, the parents and their godparents.

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