Why do we need the sacraments?

First, the sacraments show God’s perfect understanding of fallen man’s needs. St. Thomas Aquinas explains this in the following 3 points:

1: Man’s nature

We are not pure spirits who operate solely at the level of the intellect. We are spirit and body brought inextricably together. This means that we learn and perceive and communicate through our senses. We must see things, taste things, hear things, feel things, smell things in order to know them. The principal reason for a sacramental system is found in man. It is the nature of man, writes St. Thomas (III, Q. lxi, a. 1), to be led by things corporeal and sense-perceptible to things spiritual and intelligible.

2: Man’s estate

Man is enslaved to material things. Therefore, God remedies this problem through the spiritual power inside the material thing. This keeps in line with the same logic in the Incarnation.

3: Man’s activities

Man is so prone to go astray in external interests, finding in the sacraments a true bodily exercise which works out for salvation.

Second, the sacraments are sacraments of faith. Faith is the beginning of the spiritual life and the sacraments complete and make present that faith in a real and certain way so that man is knows in a physical and not just a psychological manner that Christ is truly my redeemer.

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