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According to the Wikipedia page,

Though not every individual has to receive every sacrament, the Church affirms that, for believers as a whole, the sacraments are necessary for salvation, as the modes of grace divinely instituted by Christ himself.

where the seven sacraments are: Baptism, Confirmation, the Eucharist, Penance, Extreme Unction, Order, and Matrimony.

How am I to interpret the Wikipedia claim that "sacraments are necessary for salvation"? Does it mean for example that someone who doesn't get married can't go to heaven?

  • Indeed, there are better sources than Wikipedia. Which is why I came here! – Kenny LJ Aug 8 '14 at 5:43
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    @KennyLJ Indeed, there are better sources than Wikipedia. Which is why I came here! Can't add to that. But will be true for instance when Wikipedia isn't used as the authority say for things Catholic. – user13992 Aug 8 '14 at 6:19
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Catechism of the Catholic Church | THE SEVEN SACRAMENTS OF THE CHURCH

1210 Christ instituted the sacraments of the new law. There are seven: Baptism, Confirmation (or Chrismation), the Eucharist, Penance, the Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders and Matrimony. The seven sacraments touch all the stages and all the important moments of Christian life:1 they give birth and increase, healing and mission to the Christian's life of faith. There is thus a certain resemblance between the stages of natural life and the stages of the spiritual life.

1211 Following this analogy, the first chapter will expound the three sacraments of Christian initiation; the second, the sacraments of healing; and the third, the sacraments at the service of communion and the mission of the faithful. This order, while not the only one possible, does allow one to see that the sacraments form an organic whole in which each particular sacrament has its own vital place. In this organic whole, the Eucharist occupies a unique place as the "Sacrament of sacraments": "all the other sacraments are ordered to it as to their end."2

1 Cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, STh III,65,1.
2 St. Thomas Aquinas, STh III,65,3.


The Church is a body, the Mystical Body of Christ. With this understanding, it is easy to see why not all are required to receive all the sacraments, with the ones received coming at different stages in one's Christian life, even when all the sacraments are vital for all the faithful, for the building up of the Body of Christ. cf. [Ep 4:1-16 (RSVCE)] and above: the sacraments at the service of communion and the mission of the faithful.].


For the individual, the sacraments one must (e.g. the three sacraments of Christian initiation) and can receive (e.g. marriage, holy orders, or anointing of the sick), ought to be received at the proper time for their Christian life.

Please note that in Catholicism, a lay person can be called to single life i.e. not married, not a priest, and not called to religious life.

  • In other words, sacraments are necessary (though "God ... is not bound by his sacraments"), but not all sacraments are necessary for all people? – Matt Gutting Aug 8 '14 at 13:22
  • @MattGutting I would make a slight correction. All sacraments are necessary for all people but for each individual, which sacrament they receive and when depends on their Christian life stage and their calling. Example marriage - eunuch/impotent cannot validly marry - produces future priests and future priests - only men can be - administer and/or consecrate sacraments; a newly born baby baptized does not immediately marry - there are age - nor become a priest nor can it receive the sacrament of the anointing of the sick unless its life is in danger. – user13992 Aug 8 '14 at 20:10
  • Perhaps one could say "The sacraments one can receive are necessary for one"? I agree with what I see you saying; I just feel like it can be distilled down, and I'm trying to see how I could do that. – Matt Gutting Aug 8 '14 at 20:12
  • @MattGutting I'll try to edit, make an addition to the answer to incorporate. Thank you for your contribution. – user13992 Aug 8 '14 at 20:16
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    PS a newly born baby baptized does not immediately marry - there are age restrictions - – user13992 Aug 8 '14 at 20:30
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I think Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1257 will help here:

1257 The Lord himself affirms that Baptism is necessary for salvation. He also commands his disciples to proclaim the Gospel to all nations and to baptize them. Baptism is necessary for salvation for those to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed and who have had the possibility of asking for this sacrament. The Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude; this is why she takes care not to neglect the mission she has received from the Lord to see that all who can be baptized are "reborn of water and the Spirit." God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments[emphasis in original].

I interpret that paragraph like this: Baptism (the first Sacrament that any person receives) is the only means that God gave the Church for effecting the salvation of a soul. But, God Himself, being all powerful, may save souls by other means known only to himself. In other words, although salvation without sacraments is possible, it is miraculous and, in this life, undetectable. Therefore, the Church works through the Sacraments, because these are the means established by God for helping others to salvation.

Also, we hold that God is just. Therefore, we believe that those who, through no fault of their own, had no opportunity to learn about God or to be baptized, are judged by God on the content of their hearts and the action of their lives. Although we cannot know the outcome in such cases, we trust that God is just in his judgment.

  • You speak correctly on baptism but not the other sacraments. – user13992 Aug 11 '14 at 9:15

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