A sacrament is a Christianrite recognized as of particular importance and significance. There are various views on the existence and meaning of such rites. Many Christians consider the sacraments to be a visible symbol of the reality of God, as well as a means by which God enacts his grace. Many denominations, including the Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist, and Reformed, hold to the definition of sacrament formulated by Augustine of Hippo: an outward sign of an inward grace that has been instituted by Jesus Christ. Sacraments signify God's grace in a way that is outwardly observable to the participant.
Some traditions do not observe any of the rites, or hold that they are simply reminders or commendable practices that do not impart actual grace—not sacraments but "ordinances" pertaining to certain aspects of the Christian faith.
The English word "sacrament" is derived indirectly from the Ecclesiastical Latinsacrāmentum, from Latin sacrō ("hallow, consecrate"), from sacer ("sacred, holy"). This in turn is derived from the Greek New Testament word "mysterion". In Ancient Rome, the term meant a soldier's oath of allegiance, and also a sacred rite. Tertullian, a 3rd-century Christian writer, suggested that just as the soldier's oath was a sign of the beginning of a new life, so too was initiation into the Christian community through baptism and Eucharist.