The Latin word “sacramentum” means a sign of the sacred. There are seven sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation, the Eucharist, Reconciliation, the Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders and Matrimony touch all stages and all important moments of Christian life.
Each sacrament is both salvific because it carries on the saving work of Christ when he was on earth, and also sanctifying because of the special graces each confers. They are special occasions for experiencing God’s saving presence. The Sacraments strengthen faith and also express it.
Each of the Sacraments has its own “outward sign”. For example with Baptism there is the pouring of water, with Confirmation there is the laying on of hands and anointing with holy oil, and with the Eucharist the bread and wine which will be consecrated. Whatever the signs and symbols each sacrament confers special sacramental grace.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that the Sacraments are “powers that comes forth” from the Body of Christ, which is ever-living and life-giving. They are actions of the Holy Spirit at work in his Body, the Church.”