What are Sacraments?
Sacraments, as a Catholic, are means through which God has chosen to influence our lives in the direction of his purpose for giving us life. The seven sacraments – Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Communion, Confession, Marriage, Holy Orders, and the Anointing of the Sick – are the life of the Catholic Church. Each sacrament is an outward sign of an inward grace. When we participate in them worthily, each provides us with graces – with the life of God in our soul. In worship, we give to God that which we owe Him; in the sacraments, He gives us the graces necessary to live a truly human life.
The first three sacraments – Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Communion, are known as the sacraments of initiation, because the rest of our life as a Christian depends on them.
After birth, the most important step in our lives is our baptism. Baptism is a graced moment marking the beginning of our relationship with God. Sharing God’s life means placing ourselves in his hands, walking in his company, belonging to his family, reaching out to others in need and being able to call God ‘Father’ from that day forward. It is the beginning of our faith journey for we have been chosen for a mission in the world today.
We are blessed to have so many babies for Baptism each year in our parish, the future looks very promising and judging from the sounds in the church each Sunday coming from our little parishioners, the choir also has a great future!
We have Baptism preparation sessions every two months and Baptisms are celebrated on the first two weekends of each month.
We look on this time of preparation as an opportunity for the .parents to reflect on their own faith journey and on what they have received and are going to pass on to their children. The Church tells us that the parents are the first and the best of teachers of the faith for their children, so we always hope that this time will help them reflect on this. We always find that our parents enter fully into the program and participate enthusiastically during the sessions.
We have two preparation sessions. The first session gives the parents time to reflect on their responsibilities , and the very important role of the Godparents in their child’s life.
The second session looks at the Baptism ceremony. Baptism is an entry into a community, a welcome into God’s family, so the week before the baptism we have the Welcoming ceremony where the child is welcomed into the Christian community.
1 John 3:1 “Think of the love that the Father has lavished on us, by letting us be called God’s own children; and that is what we are.”
The Holy Eucharist is a sacrament and a sacrifice. In the Holy Eucharist, under the appearance of bread and wine, The Lord Christ is contained, offered and received. Christ instituted The Holy Eucharist at the last supper, the night before he died.
“Confirmation is the sacrament that completes baptism; in it the gift of the Holy Spirit is bestowed upon us. Anyone who freely decides to live a life as God’s child and asks for God’s Spirit under the signs of the imposition of hands and anointing with Chrism receives the strength to witness to God’s Love and Might in word and deed. He/she is now a fully fledged, responsible member of the Catholic Church.”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (1285-1314)
The sacrament for young people is usually celebrated annually, and candidates must be at least in Year 11 at school. The ordinary minister of Confirmation is the Bishop but he gives the parish priest permission to confirm at Pentecost in those years when he does not visit the parish. Registering usually takes place in January and the programme runs throughout the year to December.
Reconciliation is celebrated according to three rites in the Church. Of those, the first two are celebrated in the parish. The first, the individual rite, is celebrated most Saturdays in church – St Stephens from 5.15 pm – 5.45 pm, and is always available by appointment. The second, communal rite is usually celebrated in a service during Lent and Advent.
Anointing of the sick
The Catholic Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, traditionally known as Last Rites or Extreme Unction, is a ritual of healing appropriate not only for physical but also for mental and spiritual sickness.
This sacrament is always available to anyone who is sick or grown weak under the burden of years, and can be administered as many times as necessary, at home, in hospital or in church. It is a sacrament for the healing of body and soul, and the forgiveness of sin.
The sacrament of marriage is a special sign of God’s love for his people and the proper place for the bringing up of children. A minimum of six months notice must be given so that all the necessary preparations, both pastoral and administrative, can be made.
The Church is governed by the three-fold ministry of Bishop, Priest, and Deacon. The bishop holds the fullness of the priesthood and is the overseer of the diocese. The priest is ordained to assist the bishop and to act in his name. Deacons are ordained to assist the priest in the parish. Anyone who is considering a vocation to the priesthood or diaconate should in the first place speak to their parish priest.