The following comes from a September 29 Orange County Catholic article by Michael J. Medley:
There are few things more fundamental to the Catholic faith than the seven sacraments: baptism, Eucharist, reconciliation, confirmation, marriage, holy orders, and anointing of the sick. The Church teaches that these sacraments were instituted by Jesus during his public ministry as a means by which God could continue to bestow His grace on human beings.
Father Robert Spitzer, S.J., president of the Magis Center of Reason and Faith in Garden Grove, compares the effect of receiving the sacraments, especially reconciliation and the Eucharist, which can be received repeatedly, to the effect of a good, positive friendship. “If you spend a lot of time with a friend, a part of them rubs off on you, especially if we are open and loving with that person,” Fr. Spitzer says. “The Lord starts to rub off on you through the sacraments. The more you receive the sacraments, the more you are going to be transformed into the heart of Christ.”
It should also be known that the God-given gift of free will plays a role in the reception of the sacraments. Although the amount of grace flowing from God through the sacraments is infinite, the amount of grace that each person receives can be affected by each person’s attitude, the “required dispositions” mentioned in the catechism. For example, the greater the sense of sorrow and contrition brought to the sacrament of reconciliation or the greater the sense of joy and love when receiving the Eucharist, the greater will be the grace received from those sacraments. Free will can work in the other direction, as well. A willful attitude to refuse the grace being offered can prevent a sacrament’s grace from entering the soul.
As to the person administering the sacrament, there are three requirements. He must have the power to administer the sacrament, the intention of administering the sacrament, and properly perform the ceremonies of the sacrament.
All of the sacraments give God’s sanctifying grace and, as Fr. Spitzer points out, were instituted by Jesus for four distinct reasons—to touch and transform us, to deliver God’s healing light, strengthening the sense of community with the mystical body of the Church, and relief from sin.