What does sacrament mean in the Catholic faith?
Roman Catholic AnswerBefore Vatican Council II, there were three volumes of the Baltimore Catechism which you learned by memorizing the questions and answers – memorizing them exactly by rote and repeating them back, exactly. Below are the relevant questions from Volume III of the Baltimore Catechism:Q. 574. What is a Sacrament?A. A Sacrament is an outward sign instituted by Christ to give grace.Q. 575. Are these three things, namely: An outward or visible sign, the institution of that sign by Christ, and the giving of grace through the use of that sign, always necessary for the existence of a Sacrament?A. These three things, namely: 1.An outward or visible sign, the institution of that sign by Christ, and the giving of grace through the use of that sign, are always necessary for the existence of a Sacrament, and if any of the three be wanting there can be no Sacrament.from Pocket Catholic Dictionary by John A. Hardon, S.J. Image Books c 1980, 1985 Sacrament. A sensible sign, instituted by Jesus Christ, by which invisible grace and inward sanctification are communicated to the soul. The essential elements of a sacrament of the New Law are institution by Christ the God-man during his visible stay on earth, and a sensibly perceptible rite that actually confers the supernatural grace it symbolizes. In a broad sense every external sign of internal divine blessing is a sacrament. And in this sense there were already sacraments in the Old Law, such as the practice of circumcision. But, as the Council of Trent defined, these ancient rites differed essentially from the sacraments of the New Law, they did not really contain the grace they signified, nor was the fullness of grace yet available through visible channels merited and established by the Savior.