The Sacraments of the Church

The Sacraments of the Church

Baptism: New Life and Ways of living

Through symbolic immersion in the waters of Baptism, you are “plunged into the paschal mystery of Christ.” In a mysterious way ‘you “die with him, are buried with him, and rise with him” (Constitution on the liturgy, 6).

As a Baptized Christian, you are an adopted brother or sister of Christ, “hid with Christ in God,” but a visible member of his body.

Having died to sin( both original and personal sins are cleansed away in the waters of Baptism), you have entered the community of the Church “ as through a door.” Your indelible Baptism into Christ was the being of unique, lifelong vocation.

Many people exercise their baptismal calling in very practical ways through parish activities. Assisting their parish priest, they serve as Distributors of Holy communion, lectors, commentators, choir leaders, users, servers, members of the parish council, the Legion of Mary, the St. Vincent de Paul society, the Holy Name Society, and many other parish groups.

Some serve the spiritual and community life their parishes by teaching religion, taking part in a adult education programs, scripture study, prayer groups, and family enrichment Groups such as marriage Encounter. Many find the Baptismal faith revitalized by praising God together as Charismatic Catholics. These are only some of the ways in which Baptized members of Christ’s body live out the mystery of their Baptismal vocation.

A major way of living the life of Baptism is called the religious life. Heeding as a special grace from God, some people enter religious Brothers and sisters or nuns.(Some religious also become priests, blending their religious life with their special priestly ministry.)

As consecrated religious, these people dedicate themselves to God by vowing to live the evangelical councils of poverty, Chastity, and obedience. As Vatican II explains, their lives are devoted to God’s service “in a act of special consecration which is deeply rooted in their Baptismal consecration and which provides an ampler manifestation of it” (Degree on Religious Life, 5)

Through your Baptism, you share with others “a sacramental bond linking all who have been reborn by means of it” (Degree on Ecumenism, 22). Your Baptism can never be repeated because it binds you to God forever. The bond is unbreakable. It is possible for you to lose grace and even faith, but you cannot lose your Baptism. You are marked asa one of God’s own. That same bond links you to all other baptized persons in a sacramental way. You are one of us and we are all “sacrament persons.” Together we are called to live until death a baptismal mystery into which we have been plunged.

Confirmation: seal of the spirit, Gift of the Father

Confirmation is the sacrament by which those born ‘a new Baptism receive the seal of the Holy Spirit, the Gift of the Father, Along with Baptism and the Eucharist, Confirmation is a sacrament of initiation – in this case , ‘initiation in to the life of the adult Christian witness, the deepened presence of the spirit who comes to us in this sacrament is meant to sustain us in a lifetime of witness to Christ and service to others.

If you were being confirmed today, the celebrant would moisten his thump with Chrism, the specially blessed mixture of olive oil and balsam, and trace the sign of the cross on your forehead. This act is the laying on of the hands which is an actual part of these sacraments, going back to the time of the apostles.

While anointing you, the celebrant would address you, using your new confirmation name and say : “Be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit. “These words have rich connections with early Christianity. As Saint Paul wrote to the Christians of Ephesus. “In him you also …were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance …” (Eph 1:13-14).

The word Gift, used in Confirmation, is spelled with a capital, because the Gift we receive in this sacrament is the Spirit himself.

Penance Sacrament of Reconciliation

Penance is the sacrament by which we receive God’s healing forgiveness for sins committed after Baptism.

This sacrament is also called Reconciliation because it reconciles us not only with God, but with the Church community. Both these aspects of reconciliation are important,

As members of Christ’s body, everything wed do affects the whole body sin wounds and weakens the body of Christ: The healing we receive in penance restores health and strength to the Church as well as to ourselves.

When a person turns aside or away from God’s love, the harm is to the sinner. Venial sin strains one’s relationship with God. Mortal sin ruptures the relationship.

In a case of definite mortal sin, receiving absolution in the sacrament of penance is the ordinary way in which a catholic can return to God. ( A person in mortal sin can return to God’s grace before confessions by having perfect sorrow or contrition, but this perfect contrition must be accompanied by the intentions to confess the sin and receive sacrament absolution.)

Sin is a tragic reality. But the sacrament of Reconciliation is a joyful reunion. Chapter 15 of Saint Luke’s Gospel expresses this joy poignantly. In Luke 15, the Pharisees accuse Jesus of being too merciful. In response, Jesus tells three parables. In the first God is like a Shepherd who leaves ninety – nine Sheep to seek one that is lost. When he finds it, he is filled with Joy.

In the second parable a women finds a valuable coin she had lost and throws a big party. Jesus commands: “Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

The third parable is the story of the way ward son. When the son returns home, ‘his father receives him with a tender embrace.

When you confess your sins sincerely, with true sorrow and resolution not to sin again, God rejoices,. The Pharisees depicted in Luke’s Gospel were stern, rigid men, stricter judges than God. In contrast, the Father revealed by Jesus is almost too good to be true, and so is Jesus himself, whom you meet in this sacrament. Like Father, like Son In penance, Jesus embraces and heals you.

Anointing of the sick

In serious illness you experience mortality. You realize that at some time, you are going to die. If you are not seriously ill, but infirm are aged, you know this same experience.

Because these circumstances lead you to face God in the light of your own death, there is something especially sacramental about the condition you are in. And so there is a formal sacrament for this sacramental situation; the Anointing of the Sick.

Anointing does not hasten the act of death. In this sacrament, however, God does invite you to commune with him in the light of your final meeting with him. Through this sacrament the entire Church asks God to lighten your sufferings, forgive your sins, and bring you to eternal salvation.

You need not be on the verge of dying to receive this sacrament. This is clear from the fact that the anointing and the prayers that accompany it have as purpose the restoration of health. Therefore, if you are not in immediate danger of death, but the infirm or aged, you can and should ask for the sacrament. If you are in danger of death, either from sickness or old age, you should not delay receiving the sacrament.

Anointing of the sick helps you to share more fully in the cross of Christ. By so sharing, you contribute to the spiritual good of the whole Church.

By the fact that you share more fully in the Cross of Christ through Anointing, you are being prepared for a fuller Share in Christ’s Resurrection.

Matrimony: Sacrament of life giving Oneness

In all civilizations people have sensed a mysterious sacredness about the union of man and woman. There has always been a vague realization that the deep longing for oneness with the source of all life. This is why religious rituals and codes of behavior have always been connected with marriage.

Jesus took marriage and made it the sacrament of matrimony. As a result, Matrimony gives a new dimension to the Christian vocation those beings in Baptism.

In Matrimony a husband and wife are called to love each other in a very practical way; by serving each other’s most personal needs; by working seriously at communicating their personal thoughts and feelings to each other so that their oneness is always alive and growing. This love is explicitly, beautiful sexual. As Vatican II points out, “This love uniquely expressed and perfected through the material act” (Church in the Modern World, 49).

In matrimony a couple is also called to live their sacrament for others. By their obvious closeness a loving couple affects the lives of other people with “something Special” – the love of Christ in our midst. They reveal Christs love and make it contagious – to their Children, and who all come into contact with them. A major purpose of natural outcome of Matrimony is the begetting of new life – Children. But a couple’s love also gives life – the life of Christ’s Spirit – to other people.

A couple does not live a life of love because they happen to be compatible. They do consciously and deliberately because its their vocation and because Matrimony is what Saint Paul declared into be: “a great mystery … in reference to Christ and the Church” (Eph 5:32).

Matrimony is much more than a private arrangement between two people. It is a sacramental vocation in and for the Church. It is a medium through which Christ reveals and depends the mystery of his oneness with us, his body. This husbands and wives live a truly sacramental life when they follow the words of Saint Paul: ‘Defer to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Eph 5:21).

In the Catholic Church, a couple’s sacramental union is exclusive (one man with one woman) and indissoluble (till death to us a part). These are concrete ways in which the mysterious oneness between husband and wife, Christ and Church, becomes reality.,

The best thing a father can do for his Children is to love to their mother similarly, one of the best things a couple can do for the Church and for the words is to strive for greater closeness.

Holy Orders: Ministerial Priesthood

The Church is the body of Christ. As such, the whole Church shares in the nature and tasks of Christ, our head. This includes sharing in his priesthood.

But beyond this “common priesthood of the faithful, “there is the special or “ministerial priesthood” of Christ which certain members of the Church receive through the sacrament of Holy Orders.

Each type or priesthood – common and ministerial – is a sharing in the priesthood of Christ and both types are related to each other. But there is a basic difference between them. In the Eucharistic sacrifice, for example, the oriented priest acts “in the person of Christ” and offers the Sacrifice, for example, the oriented priest acts “in the person of Christ” and offers the sacrifice to God in the name of all “and the people join with the priest in that offering. The two roles- of priest and people – go together.

Priests receive their priesthood from bishops, who possess the fullness of the sacrament of Holy Orders. When a bishop ordains priest, he gives them a sharing of his Priesthood and mission.

Priests share in Christ’s ministry by preaching his Gospel, doing all in their power to bring their people to Christian maturity. They baptize, heal and forgive sin in the sacrament of penance acts as a Church’s in the sacraments of Matrimony and Anointing of the sick. Most importantly, priest celebrate the Eucharist, which is “ the very heart beat of the congregation of the faithful over which the priests presides” (Degree on the Ministry and life of priests, 5). All priests are united in the single goal of building up Christ’s body.

When priests are ordained they are “marked with the special character” an interior capability which empowers them to “act in the person of Christ the head” (priests, 2) this special inner “character” unites priests in a sacramental bond with one another – a fact which, in as sense, sets them apart from another people. This “being set apart” is meant to help priests do God’s work with a total dedication.

As Vatican II points out, priests “deal with other men as brothers” just as Jesus did (priests, 2). One thing this mean is that priests need their people, just as their People need them. Lay people who work closely with priests help them to be leaders in the community of God’s people.

In addition to bishops and priests, deacons also have a special sharing in the sacrament of Holy Orders.The diaconate, conferred by those who go on to the priesthood, Since the second Vatican Council, however the ancient order of deacon has been restored in the Roman Catholic Church as an office in its own right, Many diocese now have deacons who do not go on to become priests. They are known therefore as permanent deacons serve the People of God at the direction of priests in parishes.

The Holy Eucharist: Sacrifice and Sacrament

In its Constitution on the liturgy, Vatican II beings its chapter entitled “The Most Sacred mystery of Eucharist” with these beautiful words:

“At the Last super, on the night when He was betrayed, our Savior instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice of His Body and Blood. He did this in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the centuries until He should come again, and so to entrust to His beloved spouse the Church, a memorial of His death and resurrection” a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a paschal banquet in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us” (Liturgy, 47).

This mystery is the very center and culmination of Christian life. It is the “source and apex of the work of preaching the Gospel…the very heart beat of the community of faith (priests, 5).

In every Mass Christ is present, both in the person of his priests and especially under the form of bread and wine. In every Mass his death becomes a present reality, offered as our sacrifice to God in a un bloody in a sacramental manner. As often as the sacrifice of the Cross is celebrated on an alter, the work of our redemption is carried on.

At Mass we offer Christ, our Passover sacrifice, of God and we offer ourselves along with him. We than receive risen Lord, our bread of life, in Holy communion . In so doing, we enter in to the very core of the paschal mystery of our salvation – the death and resurrection of Christ.

Easting the super of the Lord, we span all time and “proclaim the Lord’s death until the comes” ( 1 Cor 11:26 ). Sharing this banquet of love, we become more totally one body in him. At that moment our future with God becomes a present reality. The oneness for which we are destined is both symbolized and made the real in the meal we share. In the Mass both past and future become really present in mystery.

If you prepare for it with care and enter into with living faith, the Eucharist can draw you into the compelling love of Christ and set you afire. When you go out from the scared mystery, you know you were caught up in it if you “grasp by deed what you hold by creed.” And if you return to the place where the Sacrament is kept, Christ present in the tabernacle, you can regain your sense of the fathomless love his presence there sciently speaks.

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