There is one way to understand the sacraments and the Holy Spirit’s work in them. All seven sacraments use visible realities: water, oil, and salt at Baptism, bread and wine for Communion, and the laying of hands and chrism at Confirmation. These are all visible signs that speak of an interior work of the Spirit in our lives. But by the power of the Spirit, these signs are transformed and bring about the work of God they signify. The water cleanses us from sin. The bread and wine become Jesus’ body and blood. And the chrism seals us with the gift of the spirit.
St. Augustine taught us that the grace of each sacrament is always poured out on us when we receive them. So even if an infant is asleep during her Baptism she is still made into a new creation (2 Corinthians 5c17). And even if the priest who hears our Confession is mired in his own sin, we are still truly forgiven when he pronounces the words of absolution. And even if we are completely distracted during Mass, we still receive Jesus, Himself — body and blood, soul and divinity — in Communion.
Source: The Word Among Us May 2018 pg. 11-12 www.wau.org