The first Christians regarded the Church as the Sacrament, Jesus, Who is God, became truly human in the Incarnation, in the same manner as we are human, except that He was without sin. The Church is truly his Body. It is the outward and visible sign of God’s presence with his people. Gradually, teachers identified certain outward and visible signs as “sacraments”, that is as actions of the Church which gave the grace of God’s presence and blessing. The Anglican Church believes that the Sacraments are “sure witnesses, and effectual signs of grace, and God’s goodwill toward us, by the which He doth work invisibly in us, and doth not only quicken but also strengthen and confirm our Faith in Him” (The Articles of Religion). Anglicans regard the two Gospel Sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist as being “generally necessary to salvation”. Five other sacramental rites, in their Biblical sense, are also termed sacraments.
Holy Baptism by means of water and in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost (Matthew 28:19) conveys new birth (John 3:5; Romans 6:4) and forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38; I Peter 3:21).
The Holy Communion also called the Lord’s Supper, the Holy Eucharist, the Divine Liturgy and the Mass, was instituted by our Lord at the Last Supper when He said, “Do this in remembrance of me” (I Corinthians 11:24, Matthew 26:20-28; Mark 14:17-25; Luke 22:14-20). By this Sacrament, He feeds His people with His Body and Blood (John 6:41-59)
Confirmation conveys the strengthening gifts of the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:14-17; 19:1-7; Ephesians 1:13) for life as a mature Christian.
Penance conveys the forgiveness of sins (John 20:23; James 5:16) and the assurance of that forgiveness.
Holy Unction is the anointing with oil for healing (James 5:14; Mark 6:13) of body, mind, and soul.
Holy Matrimony is the union of one man and one woman for life before God. The relationship, St. Paul tells us (Ephesians 5:31-32), is like that between Christ and His Church.
Holy Orders denote the Apostolic Ministry of bishops, priest and deacons, instituted by Christ, and male in character (John 20:19-23; Matthew 16:18; Acts 6:1-6). Our Lord commissioned the Apostles and their successors, the bishops, to proclaim His work and salvation which He accomplished on Calvary. When Anglicans speak of Apostolic Succession, we mean an unbroken line of consecrations and commissions from our Lord to the present bishops, continuing the same teachings and ministry established by Jesus Christ Himself.