The Sacrament of Baptism is the most beautiful thing that happens in someone’s life. Did you know that when someone is baptized, it means that God the Father, The Son, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, give the Christian many very special gifts? To be baptized in the Catholic Church means more than being sprinkled with water on one’s head and receiving a Christian name.
The Sacrament of Baptism is often called “The door of the Church,” because it is the first of the seven sacraments not only in time (since most Catholics receive it as infants) but in priority since the reception of the other sacraments depends on it.
Christ himself ordered his disciples to preach the Gospel to all nations and to baptize those who accept the message of the Gospel. Christ made it clear that baptism was necessary for salvation: “Amen, amen I say to you unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”
In the Catholic Church today, baptism is most commonly administered to infants. While an adult can be baptized after proper instruction in the Faith, adult baptism normally occurs today as part of the rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) and is immediately followed by Confirmation and Communion.
Jesus Christ gave his Apostles the power to forgive sins. The Sacrament is also known as the Sacrament of Conversion, Forgiveness, Penance, or Reconciliation. Confession is a very intimate experience. Even in a communal reconciliation service that you might attend during Advent, Lent, or a retreat, individual confessions are private.
In the Sacrament of Reconciliation, Jesus provides us with a way of being reconciled to God and to those we’ve hurt, and to be strengthened in our connection to God’s entire family. This is more than symbolic; it is spiritual reality expressed through ritual.
A priest is necessary since only an ordained person has the authority to give absolution. On your part, three essential elements are required.
- Be repentant. O.K., you are human, you made a mistake. Being repentant is the recognition that you’ve made a mess of something in your life, and you want to clean it up.
- Confess your sins. When you confess your sins remember, you’re not telling God anything he doesn’t already know.
- Accept the penance. Accepting a penance from the priest and completing it is proof of your true sorrow. Confessions at St. Anthony’s are Saturdays, 4:00 p.m. to 4:45 p.m., or contact the rectory for an appointment with a priest.
The Eucharist, also called Holy Communion, Sacrament of the Table, the Blessed Sacrament, or The Lord’s Supper, is considered to be a re-enactment of the Last Supper, the final meal that Jesus shared with his disciples before his arrest and crucifixion, during which he gave them bread, saying. “This is my body”, and wine, saying, “This is my blood”.
The Lord Jesus instituted the Holy Eucharist on Holy Thursday, in the upper room of Zion, shortly before his arrest and trial. After he celebrated the Rite of Passover of the Jews, he rose and washed the feet of his disciples, as a sign of repentance and preparation, then sat down and instituted the Sacrament of Holy Communion.
Receiving Holy Communion brings us graces that affect us both spiritually and physically. Spiritually, our souls become more united to Christ, both through the graces we receive and through the change in our actions that those graces effect. Frequent Communion increases our love for God and for our neighbour, which expresses itself in action, which makes us more like Christ.
Confirmation is the sacrament of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit whom Christ Jesus sent. Jesus instructed his Apostles that they will receive the power of the Holy Spirit and called upon the Apostles to be his witnesses to the ends of the earth. At Pentecost, the Apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to spread the Word of God.
The rite of Confirmation is anointing the forehead with chrism, together with the laying on of the minister’s hands and the words. “Be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit.” The recipient receives the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord.
Confirmation can make a difference in your life. It can give you a chance to think about your own baptism and about what it means to be a Christian, and it can also have the effect of a special spiritual awakening, a reminder of your commitment to Christ and his church. When you were baptized as an infant, you didn’t know what was happening. Now, when you are older, you have a chance to reaffirm your membership in the Church and to say your own “I do” to your baptismal promises.
Marriage is a practice common to all cultures in all ages. It is, therefore, a natural institution, something common to all mankind. At its most basic level, marriage is a union between a man and a woman for the purpose of procreation and mutual support, and love.
In the Catholic Church, however, marriage is more than a natural institution; it was elevated by Christ Himself, in His participation in the wedding at Cana, to be one of the seven sacraments. A marriage between two Christians, therefore, has a supernatural element as well as a natural one.
The effect of this sacrament is an increase in sanctifying grace for the spouses, a participation in the divine life of God Himself.
This sanctifying grace helps each spouse to help the other advance in holiness, and it helps them together to cooperate in God’s plan of redemption by raising up children in the Faith.
Engaged couples must attend Marriage Preparation classes beginning at least six months before marriage.
There is only one Sacrament of Holy Orders, but there are three levels:
The first is that which Christ Himself bestowed upon his Apostles: a bishop is a man who is ordained by another bishop. He stands in direct, unbroken line from the Apostles, a condition known as “apostolic succession”. Ordination as a bishop confers the grace to sanctify others, as well as the authority to teach the faithful and to bind their consciences. Because of the grave nature of this responsibility, all these ordinations must be approved by the Pope.
The second level of the Sacrament of Holy Orders is the priesthood. No bishop can minister to all of the faithful in his diocese, so priests act, in the works of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, as “co-workers of the bishops.” They exercise their power lawfully only in communion with their bishop, and so they promise obedience to their bishop at the time of their ordination. The chief duties of the priesthood are the preaching of the Gospel and the offering of the Eucharist.
The third level of the Sacrament of Holy Orders is the diaconate. Deacons assist priest and bishops, but beyond the preaching of the Gospel, they are granted no special charism or spiritual gift.
Originally the office of deacon was reserved for men who intended to be ordained to the priesthood. After the second Vatican Council, married men were allowed to become deacons.
The Anointing of the Sick
The anointing of the sick is administered to bring spiritual and even physical strength during an illness, especially near the time of death. It is most likely one of the last sacraments one will receive. A sacrament is an outward sign established by Jesus to confer inward grace. In more basic terms, it is a rite that is performed to convey God’s grace to the recipient, through the power of the Holy Spirit.
The essential rite of the sacrament consists in the priest laying hands on the sick, anointing him with blessed oil and praying “Through this holy anointing may the Lord in his love and mercy help you with the grace of the Holy Spirit. May the Lord who frees you from sin, save you, and raise you up.”
Only priests (including Bishops) can administer the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, since, when the Sacrament was instituted during Christ’s sending out of His disciples, it was confined to the men who would become the original bishops of the church.