Choose a topic from Part 3a:

65. The Number of Sacraments

1. There are seven sacraments of the New Law. Man hasseven bodily requirements, and, since the bodily life has a certainconformity with the spiritual life, we discern seven spiritualneeds corresponding to those of the body. The seven sacramentsanswer these seven requirements of the soul: (a) In the bodilyorder, man needs first to be born; in the spiritual order, birth isbaptism. (b) In the bodily order, man needs to grow to maturity andstrength; in the spiritual order, this is accomplished byconfirmation. (c) In the bodily order, man has constant need ofnourishment to support life and strength; in the spiritual order,the soul is nourished by Holy Eucharist. (d) In the bodily order,sickness or infirmity calls for medicine and care; the soul isrestored to health by penance. (e) In the bodily order, man needsfull vigor, with all traces of past wounds and illnesses removed;the soul has this boon in extreme unction. (f) In the bodily order,there must be peace and seemly rule, and some must have authorityto this end; this need, in the spiritual order, is supplied by holyorders. (g) In the bodily social order, man needs to propagate; inthe spiritual order, this natural need finds sanctification inmatrimony.

2. The fitting order to use in naming the seven sacramentsis this: baptism, confirmation, Holy Eucharist, penance, extremeunction, holy order, matrimony. For first come the sacraments whichperfect the individual man: (a) directly: baptism,confirmation, Holy Eucharist; (b) indirectly: by removingwhat is harmful: penance, extreme unction. Next come the sacramentswhich perfect man in society: holy orders, matrimony.

3. Absolutely speaking, the greatest of all the sacramentsis Holy Eucharist, for it is our Lord and God himself. Yet, on thescore of man's necessity, baptism comes first, and penancenext.

4. And the necessity of which we speak is the necessity ofend. A thing is said to have the necessity of end: (a)simply or absolutely, if the end cannot be attained without it; (b)relatively or nonabsolutely, if the end can be attained without it,but not conveniently or becomingly. Thus, if a man proposes to seea certain mountain, he must, of simple necessity, go to the placewhere the mountain can be seen. Some conveyance is necessary formaking the journey to the place from which the mountain may beviewed, yet, despite difficulty and inconvenience, the man might beable to reach the place by walking, and so could dispense with theconveyance. But it would be a hardship. Now, of all the sacraments,baptism alone is necessary for man's salvation "by thesimple necessity of end." Yet, in case aman sinsmortally after baptism, penance becomes necessary. And, as arequisite for the continuance of the Church, holy order isnecessary.

"If you wish to learn and appreciate something worth while, then love to be unknown and considered as nothing. Truly to know and despise self is the best and most perfect counsel."
Thomas á Kempis

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"A tree that is cultivated and guarded through the care of its owner produces its fruit at the expected time. "
St John of the Cross, OCD - Doctor of the Church

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"He who wishes to be perfectly obeyed, should give but few orders."
St Philip Neri

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