Are the Sacraments Necessary for Salvation?
Seven Sacraments (Traditional Catholic Priest)
This is a big question that has been asked by many as of late. Are the Sacraments necessary? Some say yes, others no. One Bishop comes out and suspends all Baptisms, Confessions, and Holy Masses. One bishop comes out and puts his life on the line to be sure that he and his priests provide the Sacraments to souls. The Sacraments can be placed on hold because right now it is more important not to get sick in the body. Others have gone into the thought that as long as the priest is still offering the Mass, then that is all that is necessary. Other have come to the thought that it was not necessary for the Faithful to go to Holy Mass. And the notion that the Early Christians and their Love for the Holy Mass, to the point that they would die trying to attend Holy Mass, does not apply to us or circumstance today.
What are we to think and believe then about the Sacraments? Necessary or not? We need to think about this further and ask ourselves these 2 important questions to answer this question in the mind of the Church in her sacred Teachings and Tradition:
Do I want to get to Heaven and how do I get there?
If I have to be Holy to get to Heaven, how do I accomplish that?
The definition of Sacrament from the Catechism of the Council of Trent declares: Sacraments are outward signs of inward/invisible grace, instituted by Christ for our sanctification.
Thus, God has appointed external, visible ceremonies as the means by which certain graces are to be conferred on men, then in order to obtain those graces it will be necessary for men to make use of those Divinely appointed means. That is, the 7 Sacraments.
St. Augustine of Hippo in the 5th century developed the notion that a sacramentum is a sign that sanctifies – makes holy – because it is efficacious and produces the intended effect.
Thus, if we want to get to Heaven and knowing that only the holy are allowed into Heaven, and then knowing that the Sacraments make us holy, then it is by the Sacraments that this is accomplished. Namely, our salvation and sanctification.
The Sacraments make us Holy! That is why they are important!
“Be ye perfect as Your Heavenly Father is Perfect.” How? By the way Christ set up His graces to be received by the soul in the Sacraments.
Only with the grace of God given to us in the Sacraments can we be made perfect!
After the Fall of Adam and Eve, our nature was broken and weakened. After Christ came He established the Sacraments to fix out nature.
For instance, think of the wonderful mystery of Holy Communion. Christ, not only sheds His Precious Blood to take away our sins, but He goes further to become the food of our souls, uniting our human nature to His Divine Nature! There is no better union than this! Nothing more perfect than this!
For Christ said Himself: "He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day." (John 6:55)
This cannot be downplayed or ignored! The necessity of this, is a matter of life or death - eternally!
“As of all the sacred mysteries bequeathed to us by our Lord and Saviour as most infallible instruments of divine grace, there is none comparable to the most holy Sacrament of the Eucharist; so, for no crime is there a heavier punishment to be feared from God than for the unholy or irreligious use by the faithful of that which is full of holiness, or rather which contains the very author and source of holiness,” (Catechism of the Council of Trent on the Eucharist).
Therefore, the Sacraments are necessary because they are the infallible instruments of His Divine Grace for our Salvation and Sanctification!
“If any one saith, that the Sacraments of the New Law are not necessary unto salvation, but superfluous; and that, without them, or without the desire thereof, men obtain of God, through faith alone, the grace of justification;-though all (the sacraments) are not indeed necessary for every individual; let him be anathema.” (Council of Trent, CANON IV.)
Stay tuned for part 2 article on what to do if you have no access to the Sacraments.