A sacrament is a special religious observance or ceremonial act.
There are seven sacraments in Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches: Baptism, confirmation, holy communion, penance, anointing the sick, holy orders and marriage.
Protestants avoid the word sacrament and instead use the word ordinance when referring to an outward sign of commitment ordained by Christ himself. Most protestants say there are three ordinances: Baptism, communion and marriage.
For the most part, these are differences in terminology and form, but there are differences between Catholic/Orthodox churches and Protestant churches with regard to baptism and communion.
Generally speaking, Catholics (and some Protestants) believe that baptism confers salvation to a child through the church.
Most protestants believe that salvation comes only from God himself, through personal faith in Jesus Christ, apart from any work of the church.
In many respects, the two views eventually come together, in this way:
• Those who believe in salvation through baptism usually also believe that when a child becomes old enough to understand spiritual matters, he or she must confirm the baptism, usually facilitated by a course of study in the church, so that parents’ choice then becomes personal choice by ratification. They believe an individual can lose the salvation by ignoring or disaffirming it.
• Those who believe that salvation is by faith alone, apart from any work of the church, usually also believe that a child is automatically saved until old enough to understand God's offer of salvation, and then he or she either rejects it explicitly, rejects it by ignoring it, or accepts it by personal faith in Jesus Christ. They believe that baptism is essentially a public testimony of the decision to follow Christ.
Different churches use different modes of baptism: Some sprinkle. Some pour. Some immerse.
Catholics call communion and accompanying liturgy the eucharist and celebrate it every Sunday as the central part of their worship service, called mass. Most Catholics believe the bread and wine miraculously turn into the actual flesh and blood of Jesus.
Protestants typically celebrate communion once a month as a part of their worship service. They believe that the bread and wine are symbolic only.
All Christians celebrate communion with the same objective: to commemorate Christ’s death and resurrection.