The Seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church

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Pub Date 20 Jun 2023 | Archive Date 04 Jul 2023

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There are seven sacraments administered in the Catholic Church. What are they, and what do they do? Why do human beings require sacramentalized, visible realities to seal their confession of faith in Jesus Christ? Why does the Catholic Church administer the sacraments in the way that it does?

Leading Catholic theologian Romanus Cessario, OP, offers an in-depth explanation of the seven sacraments celebrated in the Catholic Church. He addresses the rationale for the sacraments and provides detailed exposition of each one, highlighting the importance of the Catholic tradition--and of Thomas Aquinas, in particular--for contemporary reflection on the sacraments.

This book examines why participation in the sacramental life of the Church is required for the believing Christian and helps readers understand the role the sacraments play in the sanctification of the world.

There are seven sacraments administered in the Catholic Church. What are they, and what do they do? Why do human beings require sacramentalized, visible realities to seal their confession of faith in...

Advance Praise

“When I hear people describe themselves as spiritual rather than religious—especially if they are Christians of a sort—I wonder how they can turn their backs on the massive display of divine love that is at the heart of the sacramental economy. Christ’s love for us has led him to share the infinite bounty of his passion, death, and resurrection in the seven sacraments of the Church, pouring from his side the blood ‘of which a single drop has power to win all the world forgiveness of its world of sin’ (Adoro te devote). In its magisterial presentation of the theology of the sacraments and of their divinely assured efficacy in every circumstance of the Christian life, this wonderful book makes clear on every page that we must rely not our own resources but on the power of God’s grace in giving us communion with the Blessed Trinity, forgiving our sins, and providing us with the bread of angels. This is an essential guide for Catholic students at every level of catechetical and theological formation.”—Archbishop J. Augustine Di Noia, OP, Vatican City

“In this lucid account of the ‘holy signs’ of the New Covenant, written in the spirit of the Thomas Aquinas of the great Commentators (though with continual reference to the present-day Catechism of the Catholic Church) and treating with equal fullness the ‘sacraments in general’ and the ‘particular sacraments,’ Romanus Cessario seeks to show that sacramental theologians cannot be mere copies of social-anthropological students of myth and ritual. Only a robust metaphysic can bring out the way divine agency is set to work in the sacraments, the ‘separated instruments’ of the Word incarnate, for the restoration and perfection of the ‘image of God’ in human life. With not a few side-swipes at contemporary temptations in the theory and practice of sacramental living, the author succeeds admirably in this attempt.”—Aidan Nichols, OP, Sometime Pope John Paul II Lecturer in Roman Catholic Theology, University of Oxford

“With a rare combination of learning and lucid expression, Romanus Cessario tells us everything we need to know about the sacraments. This is a book that should deepen any reader’s experience of the way each sacrament confers, strengthens, or restores holiness.”—Mary Ann Glendon, Learned Hand Professor of Law, emerita, Harvard University

“Deeply steeped in the Thomist tradition and drawing on a rich and many-faceted life as a priest, a teacher, and a preacher, Fr. Cessario has written a remarkable book that aims to encourage the faithful to embrace, both intellectually and spiritually, the sacraments as ‘rhythms of salvation unto everlasting life.’ A broad audience of lay faithful and clerics will appreciate and profit from the vivid and engaging way in which Fr. Cessario presents the Catholic tradition and its intellectual and spiritual underpinnings. This book will undoubtedly deepen faith in and cultivate practice of the sacraments. For this accomplishment and service Fr. Cessario cannot be thanked enough.”—Jörgen Vijgen, Ordinarius of the Pontifical Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas, Vatican City

“In this book, noted Dominican theologian Romanus Cessario offers a clear, concise, and comprehensive introduction to the order of sacramental grace as a whole as well as to each of the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church—all of this from within the theological tradition that the doctor communis, St. Thomas Aquinas, has bequeathed to the Church. At a time and age in which the ‘immanent frame’ of modern secularism has begun to impact the Catholic faith itself and its understanding of the sacraments, an uninhibited emphasis on the supernatural nature and causality of the seven sacraments is especially welcome. For the full recovery of a non-reductive understanding of the grace of the sacraments, this book is indispensable and welcome reading.”—Reinhard Hütter, Ordinary Professor of Fundamental and Dogmatic Theology, The Catholic University of America; Ordinary Academician of the Pontifical Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas; Appointed Member of the International Theological Commission 2021–26

“Cessario’s The Seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church will be valued for its comprehensive character. Beyond a treatment of each sacrament, there is robust and substantial treatment of the necessity, nature, number, and especially causality of the sacraments.”—Guy Mansini, OSB, Ave Maria University

“When I hear people describe themselves as spiritual rather than religious—especially if they are Christians of a sort—I wonder how they can turn their backs on the massive display of divine love...

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Featured Reviews

The Seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church by Romanus Cessario OP is an excellent book that highlights and takes a deeper look at the fundamental seven sacraments of the Catholic Church.

The seven sacraments of the Catholic Church: Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Matrimony, Holy Orders, Anointing of the Sick, and Penance and Reconciliation.
This book delves into each of these Sacraments in detail giving the reader a historical context, how it has “evolved”, the reasonings, meanings, ceremonies, and the theological foundations of each. Each topic and discussion is heavily researched and supported.

This book is for those that have a baseline knowledge of the sacraments and also have a bit of understanding of Catholic doctrine and the concepts of theology in general. One could learn all of these things from scratch, but I think it would be easier to dive right in if the base knowledge was already there.

I learned quite a bit about the historical timelines of each Sacrament while reading this book and thoroughly enjoyed it.

5/5 stars

Thank you NG and Baker Academic for this wonderful arc and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion.

I am posting this review to my GR and Bookbub accounts immediately and will post it to my Amazon, Instagram, and B&N accounts upon publication on 6/20/23.

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This was rather academic and difficult to read as a layperson. I think this would be a great book for academic-minded people but is rather hard to finish as a casual read.

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