Why do some sacraments leave a character or mark on the soul? Don’t all sacraments affect the soul?
All sacraments mediate grace and connect us to Christ and to the Church. Some sustain us in our faith journey, while others help us heal from the effects of sin. Each one offers a share in God’s life, giving us what we need to be faithful followers of Jesus. But some sacraments change us in ways that are irreversible. The three sacraments that leave a character are Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders. We are literally different people because of the effect of the grace of those sacraments. We are changed at the core of our being in such a fundamental way that we can not go back to what we once were.
In Baptism, we are freed from original sin, initiated into the Body of Christ as adopted sons and daughters. In Confirmation, we are given the fullness of God’s Spirit, sealed in his grace and gifted with what we need to live a Christian life. In Holy Orders, a priest is marked as an ‘alter Christus,’ another Christ, and is once and forever a priest who offers sacrifice, forgives sin, and acts in the person of Christ. In these three sacraments, we are conformed more closely to Christ, reflecting his love and truth.