Q. 1. What is the purpose of the Catholic Sacraments?
A. 1. The Sacraments of the Catholic Church are, as the Church teaches, "efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which Divine life is dispensed to us. The visible rites by which the Sacraments are celebrated signify and make present the graces proper to each Sacrament. They bear fruit in those who receive them with the required dispositions." [catechism of the Catholic Church # 1131]
Though not everyone has to receive all the Sacraments, 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. [Catechism of the Catholic Church # 1129] Through each of them Christ bestows that Sacrament's particular grace, such as incorporation into Christ and the Church, the forgiveness of sins, or consecration for a particular service.
The Church teaches that the effect of a Sacrament comes by the very fact of being administered, regardless of the personal holiness of the minister administering it. However, a recipient's own lack of proper disposition to receive the grace conveyed can block the effectiveness of the Sacrament in that person. The Sacraments presuppose faith and through their words and ritual elements, nourish, strengthen and give expression to faith. [Catechism of the Catholic Church # 1123]