Sacraments are universally recognised ways of encountering God. Obviously there are as many ways to God as there are people – we are all nurtured and fed by different things – be that silence, walks, cooking, sports or anything really which supports us in our lives and gives healing and growth.

In contrast a sacrament is a formally recognised encounter with God which works for all at all times. It is not entirely clear what exactly deserves to be called this – usually the answer is either two (Baptism & Eucharist) or seven (Confirmation, Ordination, Reconciliation, Anointing the Sick, Marriage). In many ways that is a rather irrelevant question: it comes down to marking life occasions in church and being assured of God’s presence in our living and even our dying.