[from my apologetics inserts in The Catholic Answer Bible (Our Sunday Visitor, 2002]
The Incarnation, which made the redemption of mankind possible, “glorified” matter and raised it to previously unknown heights. God took on human flesh! All created matter was “good” in God’s opinion (Gen 1:25). Ritual and “physicality” were not abolished by the coming of Christ.
The sacramental principle flows from the Incarnation itself. If matter had nothing to do with grace, then God wouldn‟t have had to become man. Matter conveys grace often in Scripture: baptism confers regeneration (Acts 2:38, 22:16, 1 Pet 3:21), Paul’s “handkerchiefs” healed the sick (Acts 19:11-12), as did even Peter’s shadow – which also cast out demons (Acts 5:15-16), and of course, Jesus’ garment (Mt 9:20-22) and saliva mixed with dirt (Jn 9:5 ff., Mk 8:22-25), as well as water from the pool of Siloam (Jn 9:7).
Anointing with oil for healing is encouraged (Jas 5:14). The laying on of hands initiates and brings about ordination and commissioning (Acts 6:6), facilitates the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Acts 13:3), and causes healing (Acts 9:17-18).
Catholics believe that Jesus instituted all the sacraments. For example:
Baptism: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit” (Mt 28:19).
Eucharist: “Then he took the bread, said the blessing, broke
it, and gave it to them, saying, „This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me‟ “ (Lk 22:19).
Penance and Reconciliation: “. . . whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven [penance], and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven‟ [absolution, reconciliation]‟ “ (Mt 18:18; cf. Mt 16:19, Jn 20:23).
Catechism of the Catholic Church: 6, 698, 738-740, 774, 798, 815, 947, 950, 1076, 1084, 1088, 1114-1115, 1118, 1121-1134, 1150, 1210, 1420, 1533-1535, 2003, 2030
Related Reading:Sacraments & the Moral Responsibility of Their Recipients [8-26-06]
Sacraments and Priests vs. the Cross?: Unbiblical False Dichotomies [Facebook, 3-20-17]
The Biblical Understanding of Holy Places and Things [National Catholic Register, 4-11-17]
Biblical Evidence for Sacramentalism [National Catholic Register, 8-29-17]
Did St. Augustine Accept All Seven Sacraments? [National Catholic Register, 11-15-17]