With respect to the number of the sacraments, which was reduced by Luther and Calvin to two sacraments, all seven sacraments are instituted by Christ. And this is de fide, I. e, a matter of Catholic faith, which means no historical doubt as to whether they are really instituted by Christ or not is allowed any more If you read in a Catholic book the formulation of a dogma and then under this formulation the two words “de fide,” then this means it is a matter of dogmatic statement of the Roman church which you cannot deny or doubt, except by risk of being cut off from the Roman church.
There is no salvation without sacraments. The sacraments are saving powers, and not only strengthening powers, as in Protestantism. They have a hidden force of their own and to all those who do not resist grace they give this force. Baptism, confirmation, and ordination are of indelible character – this is against the Reformers, again. During your whole life you are baptised – and this had great practical consequences in the Middle Ages, namely, you fall under the law against heresy. If you were not baptised, you would fall under the law which limits strange religions as that of the Jews and the Islamic people and other people, and you wouldn’t be persecuted. But if you are baptised, you are a Christian and you can be persecuted by the law of heresy. Now here you see what such “indelible character” means. It is a life-and-death problem in the practice of the Roman church of that time. The same is true of the “indelible character” of ordination. It means that the excommunicated criminal priest, if he happens to marry somebody in prison – which happened often at that time – then they are married: the sacramental power in him overcomes his criminal situation and even his being excommunicated as an individual. If he marries you in prison, though excommunicated he still has the indelible sacramental power, which is always there and never can be taken from him. Here again you have a strong practical consequence of this doctrine of the “indelible character.” Now this, of course, stands against the Protestant doctrine of the universal priesthood. Not every Christian has the power to preach and to administer the sacraments, but only those who are ordained, and being ordained means having received sacramental power.
This sacramental power is even embodied in the ritual form of the sacraments. If there is a given ritual formula, no priest, no bishop, can transform it, can omit something from it, can change it, without sinning. The sacramental power is communicated from its origin in the actuality of the Church to the forms which are used – there is no arbitrariness possible.
Baptism is only valid in infant baptism… . . . The water of baptism washes away the contamination of original sin… But to have faith later during one’s life, as Luther demanded, in the power of baptism as the Divine act which initiates all Christian being, is not sufficient for the forgiveness of sins, and this means baptism loses, religiously speaking, its actual power for the later life. It does mean anything any more except for the fact of the “character indelibilis. It is not a point to which one religiously returns” The doctrine of transubstantiation is preserved, and where it is preserved you always find a clear test of it, namely, the demand to adore it besides its use. For Protestants, the bread is not the body of Christ, except in the act of performance.