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Catholic Dictionary




The indelible sign imprinted on the soul when the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, and the priesthood are received. This sign is indelible because it remains even in a person who may lose the state of grace or even the virtue of faith. It perdures at least until death and most likely into eternity. It is a sign because it signifies that the one baptized, confirmed, and ordained bears a special and unique relationship to Christ. It is a character because it permanently seals the person with a supernatural quality, comparable to the character that identifies each individual as a distinct personality. It is finally a character because it empowers the one who receives with the abilities that no one else possesses. In essence the sacramental character assimilates a person to the priesthood of Christ. From this primary function, secondary functions flow, in increasing order of sublimity, from baptism through confirmation to holy orders.