The Seven Sacraments are at the heart of the life of the Catholic Church. These are special moments of blessing that accord with God’s loving plan for his family and the world. These are visible, external signs through which very real divine blessings are received by the faithful.
The sacraments celebrated by the Church are signs of grace that make a deeper reality present to us. One reality we encounter through the sacraments is Christ’s presence in the Church community, His Body. This recognition of Christ’s presence in the community should lead to a stronger awareness of being sent on a mission to engage in love-inspired action in the world.
As Pope Benedict XVI notes in Deus Caritas Est (God Is Love), the celebration of the sacraments and the ministry of love are “inseparable.” Love in action, he says, is “an indispensable expression” of the Church’s being (no. 25). This guide focuses on the Sacrament of Baptism, the rite of initiation into the Christian community. As you read, consider the meaning of your own Baptism, your membership in the community, and the mission on which you are sent.
Parents should call the Parish Office to arrange an initial meeting with Fr. Joe
Reconciliation / Penance / Confession
Every time we sin, we hurt ourselves, other people and God. The Sacrament of Reconciliation (also called Penance or Confession) was given to us by Christ to help us reconcile with Christ and His Church when we have committed harm. Through the Sacrament, we acknowledge our sins, express our sorrow in a meaningful way, receive the forgiveness of Christ and His Church, make reparation for what we have done and resolve to do better in the future. During His public life, Jesus both forgave sins and reintegrated sinners into the community. This is the goal of the Sacrament of Confession: to forgive sins and to provide reconciliation with the Church. The Sacrament of Penance & Reconciliation involves four parts: contrition, confession, penance and absolution.
Holy Communion / Eucharist
The Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life” (Lumen Gentium [Dogmatic Constitution on the Church], no. 11). In the Eucharistic Liturgy and our prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, we encounter God’s presence in personal and profound ways. But the Eucharist is also social, as Pope Benedict XVI reminds us in Deus Caritas Est (God Is Love): “A Eucharist which does not pass over into the concrete practice of love is intrinsically fragmented” (no. 14). The Eucharist, celebrated as a community, teaches us about human dignity, calls us to right relationship with God, ourselves, and others. As the Body of Christ, it sends us on a mission to help transform our communities, neighbourhoods, and world. Church teaching, rooted in both Scripture and Tradition, emphasizes both the personal and social natures of the Eucharist.
Confirmation enriches the baptised with the strength of the Holy Spirit so that they can better witness to Christ in word and deed (Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC], no. 1285). Anointed by the Holy Spirit at Confirmation, Christians strengthen their bond with the Church and become better equipped to carry out the Church’s mission of love and service.
Marriage / Matrimony
In Christian marriage, spouses model the love and self-gift of Christ. By giving of themselves and serving one another, their family, and their community, they help one another live out Christ’s call to discipleship, love, and service. Marriage provides a foundation for a family committed to community, solidarity, and Jesus’ mission in the world.
Any couple wishing to enter the sacrament of Matrimony must first be a member of the Parish and meet with Fr. Joe before a date is confirmed. Diocesan policy requires a period of six months from the initial interview until the wedding date.
Through the Sacrament of Holy Orders, bishops and priests are given a special role in carrying out the mission of the Church. They exercise the ministerial priesthood of Jesus Christ as head of the Church. Through many of the Sacraments, they act “In Persona Christ” (In the Person of Christ). They share in the one priesthood of Jesus Christ. Deacons also receive a special grace through ordination and are called to assist the ministry of bishops and priests (Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC], nos. 1547, 1554). Pope Benedict XVI writes, “The priest is above all a servant of others” (Sacramentum Caritatis [Sacrament of Charity], no. 23). In gathering the community, modelling Christ’s love for the poor, presiding at Eucharist, and evangelizing social realities, ordained ministers help Christians imitate Christ’s mission of love and justice.
Anointing of the Sick
Anointing of the Sick is the sacrament that is received by those who are ill or suffering. By the sacred anointing and the prayer of the priest, the whole Church commends those who are sick to Christ. The sick person receives the Holy Spirit’s gifts of strength, faith, peace, and courage, and his or her suffering is united with the suffering of Christ for the building up of the Church (Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC], nos. 1520-23).
Through the Sacrament of Anointing the Sick, the Church carries out Jesus’ mission of compassion and healing for the sick. The one who is ill can also be a minister to others. By uniting their suffering to Christ, those who are sick can be signs of faith and witnesses of Christ’s Resurrection to the entire community (Pope John Paul II, Christifideles Laici [The Vocation and the Mission of the Lay Faithful in the Church and in the World], no. 54).
Care for Sick, Dying and Deceased
The Catholic Church is faithful to the healing ministry entrusted to it by Jesus Christ himself.
In the Scriptures, St Mark recounts how Jesus sent out with his authority his 12 Disciples, who “anointed with oil many that were sick and healed them” (Mark 6:13).
Later, St James recounts in his Letter: “Are there any sick among you? Call for the priests of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven” (James 5:14–15).
Today, we live out this ministry by pastoral visits to the Sick and Housebound for Holy Communion, prayer and solidarity. When appropriate, the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick is administered, sometimes at home or in Church, or sometimes in Hospitals, Care Homes or Hospices.
In the Catholic Church family, we mark the passing from our life in this world to the eternal life promised us in the Kingdom of Heaven with particular Requiem Rites, especially the Requiem Mass or Requiem Service which precedes burial or cremation.