St. Augustine wrote in the 5th century that “a sacrament is visible form of inward grace.” He took this to mean many sacred situations, but as the early church grew, there was a desire to give names to the important rituals of Christian life. By the early 1200s, church leaders had agreed on seven “sacraments” or rituals that they believed carried that “inward grace” and were common among the different worshiping styles in different parts of the world. Reformers of the 1500s recognized only two sacraments instituted by Christ in the Scripture: Baptism and Eucharist. In the Episcopal Church, we recognize Baptism and Eucharist as well as five other sacramental ministries.
We believe that God is not limited to these rites, but that they a few examples of ways that God reaches out to us. Sacraments sustain our present hope and anticipate its future fulfillment.
Sacraments are “actions” and not “things.”