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A sacrament is a physical thing or event that contains an element or reflection of the divine. The term is derived from Late Latin sacrmentum, from Latin, "oath"; from sacrare, "to consecrate"; from sacer, sacr-, "sacred". It is often used to describe ecclesiastical services, such as baptism, last rites, or ordination. However, a sacrament does not have to come from a church—it can originate from any source considered sacred (including the self).

Sacraments and the church

Roman Catholic Church

Sacraments are usually administered by the clergy to a recipient or recipients, and are generally understood to involve visible and invisible components. The invisible component (manifested inwardly) is understood to be God's grace working in the sacrament's participants, whilst the visible (or outward) component entails the use of water, wine, or oil that is blessed or consecrated.

The seven basic sacraments are Baptism, the Eucharist, Marriage, Holy Orders (Ordination), Confirmation, Penance, and Extreme Unction (Last Rites). The seven sacraments accepted by Catholicism are generally accepted by Eastern Orthodoxy and Oriental Orthodoxy, but these traditions do not limit the number of sacraments to these seven (e.g. some Christian groups consider foot washing to be a sacrament).

Catholics hold that the sacrament itself is an effective means of grace, and not merely symbolic. They traditionally practice seven sacraments but acknowledge that additional means of grace exist without sacraments. Roman Catholics also have sacramentals, acts of worship that differ from sacraments proper, but which are also means of grace. Items such as the rosary or the various scapulars and holy medals issued by some Roman Catholic groups are counted among these sacramentals.

Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica

Sabazius (2002) defines sacrament as "the specific religious rites used by a church in the activation, maintenance, and nurturing of the spiritual community." He considers the following to be the sacraments within the Gnostic Catholic Church, explaining that they "involve the atonement of the personality with the Self, which effects the harmonization of the individual life with the True Will and integrates the aspirant into Thelemic society as a 'member of the body of Initiates.'":

Crowley on the sacrament

  • "Every act must be a ritual, an act of worship, a Sacrament." (The Law of Liberty)
  • "It need only be said in this place that [Beatitude's] formula is "Love is the law, love under will," and that its nature is is the Perpetual Sacrament of Energy in action." (Little Essays Towards Truth, "Beatitude")
  • "I do not mind a background of love properly subordinated to the true interest of life...It is the sacrament by which man enters into communion with God." (Confessions, Ch.61)
  • "To us, every phenomenon is an Act of Love, every experience is necessary, is a Sacrament, is a means of Growth. Hence, '...existence is pure joy;...' (AL II, 9) 'A feast every day in your hearts in the joy of my rapture! A feast every night unto Nu, and the pleasure of uttermost delight!' (AL II, 42-43)." (Magick Without Tears, Ch.VIII)
  • "From the nature of things, therefore, life is a sacrament; in other words, all our acts are magical acts. Our spiritual consciousness acts through the will and its instruments upon material objects, in order to produce changes which will result in the establishment of the new conditions of consciousness which we wish. That is the definition of Magick." (Confessions, Ch.14)


Document Source

  • This page was originally sourced from Thelemapedia. Retrieved May 2009.