The Church has always used seven essential ordinances, established by Christ and His Apostles from the first days, and confirmed in Scripture. The primary sacraments are Baptism and Communion (also called Mass, Eucharist, the Blessed Sacrament, etc.) and are normatively required for our salvation. The other sacraments are important, but not essential for salvation: Confession, Confirmation, Matrimony, Ordination, and Holy Unction.
Baptism is for all ages, and is a covenantal entry into the Body of Christ, the Church. While the body is outwardly washed with water, and candidate blessed with the Name of the Trinity, spiritually one’s sins from birth are forgiven, one receives the Holy Spirit to indwell them, one has his or her spirit made alive to God, and is joined into the mystical Body of Christ. Baptism is not salvation itself, but a great advantage to all who enter thereby as these spiritual gifts and graces signify.
Communion is receiving the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ through the forms of consecrated bread and wine with other believers. Anglicans believe in the Real Presence, which is distinguished from the Roman doctrine of transubstantiation because we don’t tell God how these elements become Christ’s Body and Blood, only that, as He said, they now are what He told us. We don’t eat and drink dead Jesus, but Incarnate, Crucified, Resurrected, Ascended and Glorified Christ, whose Body and Blood may be given us at no loss to Himself, but join us to Him in ways hard to define.
Confession, as enjoined on the Apostles the night of Christ’s Resurrection (John 20:22), and confirmed in the Epistle of St. James (5:13-16), with the ministers in Apostolic orders given the command to declare God’s forgiveness (1 John 1:8-9).
Confirmation is the Laying on of the Hands of Bishops, conferring full membership to those of sufficient years and understanding to take the oaths of Baptism upon oneself and being admitted to the Holy Communion. It was shown necessary in Acts 8:14-17.
Matrimony is the only Sacrament ordained of God even before mankind fell. It is a foretaste of heaven, and seals for life a man and a woman, husband and wife, for their mutual comfort, growth, joy and the protection and raising of children, as God blesses them. Jesus’ first miracle at Cana blesses marriage from the start of His ministry.
Ordination comes with three stages of ministry: Deacon, Priest and Bishop. Anglicans have no other orders, although arguably the order of Laity is given to every Christian who receives Confirmation, in the same form with those same hands. Deacons are servants of the Bishop’s House, and are assigned at his discretion, to churches where they assist the priest in his duties. Priests, adapting the title from the biblical term “presbyter” or elder, are delegated by the Bishop to serve in his stead in parish churches to preside over the various sacraments except Ordination and Confirmation. Bishops are the biblical “overseers,” heads of large territories of many parishes, who pastorally and administratively determine that the Church remains healthy and doctrines once given are protected from error.
Holy Unction is given to the sick. It need not be reserved solely to the dying, but anyone seeking a special grace for the healing of any malady. One readily available form is laying hands of the priest with the prayer on BCP page 320. A more formal form of Unction uses oils specially blessed by the Bishop for that purpose.