Sacraments

Introduction to the Sacraments
Whole Community Catechesis is grounded in the Church’s understanding that the Baptismal catechumenate offers the inspiration for all catechesis. Within the process of initial and ongoing formation, it is the responsibility of the entire Christian community to give shape and witness to one another in forming the Body of Christ [General Directory for Catechesis, 90].

Baptism
The Sacrament of Baptism is often called "The door of the Church," because it is the first of the seven sacraments. The reception of the other sacraments depends on it. It is the first of the three Sacraments of Initiation, the other two being the Sacrament of Confirmation and the Sacrament of Holy Communion. Once baptized, a person becomes a member of the Church.

Christ Himself ordered His disciples to preach the Gospel to all nations and to baptize those who accept the message of the Gospel. In His encounter with Nicodemus (John 3:1-21), Christ made it clear that baptism was necessary for salvation: "Amen, amen I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." For Catholics, the sacrament is not a mere formality; it is the very mark of a Christian, because it brings us into new life in Christ.

Baptism does five things. (1.) It forgives all sins that may have been committed prior to a person's baptism including original sin and it relieves the punishment for those sins. (2.) It makes the newly baptized person "a new creature." (3.) It turns the person into a newly adopted son/daughter of God and a member of Christ. (4.) Baptism incorporates one into the Church which is the body of Christ. (5.) It brings someone into the flock of the faithful and brings them to share in the royal priesthood of Christ (1Pet. 2:9-10).

The Sacrament of Baptism is the initial sacrament of faith.  In this sacrament, the person is immersed in to the passion, death and resurrection of Christ (Paul-Romans).  The effects of Original Sin are combated in that Baptism.  Baptism transforms the relationship between God and the believer and His light brings us out of darkness into the splendor of God’s kingdom of light.  Through the waters of Baptism we enter a new kind of life, the life of the spirit.

Confirmation

The primary symbol of Confirmation is the community itself. Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist are sacraments of initiation, initiation into a community.

The community that gathers to celebrate your Confirmation is not there merely to watch; it is the community into which you are being initiated. The community is the sign of Christ’s presence for you.

In Confirmation we hear again the name we were given in Baptism (Some people take a new name at Confirmation in order to have an additional heavenly patron). Confirmation begins with Baptism. Confirmation complements the symbols of Baptism. Confirmation means all that Baptism means.

God’s grace fills us with redemption and salvation. This grace, this presence of God in us, is the Holy Spirit. Confirmation is the Sacrament of the Holy Spirit.


From ancient times, to impose hands on someone or to extend one’s hand over the person’s head was the sign of calling down the Holy Spirit. All seven sacraments employ this symbol. We call the prayer which accompanies the imposition of hands an epiclesis, which is an invocation.


In Confirmation, the presider places his hand on the head of each one to be confirmed and prays that the Holy Spirit descend upon them. You will hear this prayer: "All powerful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, by water and the Holy Spirit you freed your sons and daughters from sin and gave them new life. Send your Holy Spirit upon them to be their Helper and Guide. Give them the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of right judgment and courage, the spirit of knowledge and reverence. Fill them with the spirit of wonder and awe in your presence".


The CCE Office and the Archdiocesan Guidelines provide formation opportunities for new Confirmation coordinators, emphasizing sacramental theology, Confirmation catechesis and program administration. The CCE Office also trains experienced coordinators to design and implement Confirmation retreats, develop service opportunities, assist Confirmation candidates with vocational discernment, and offer models of intergenerational formation which involves the entire faith community.

The Archdiocesan norm which Cardinal Daniel DiNardo established for the sacrament of Confirmation to take place is the 10th or 11th grade with a minimum of one year for immediate preparation for the sacrament.

Guidelines for First Eucharist and Reconciliation

Eucharist
The Holy Eucharist completes Christian initiation. Those who have been raised to the dignity of the royal priesthood by Baptism and configured more deeply to Christ by Confirmation participate with the whole community in the Lord's own sacrifice by means of the Eucharist.( Catechism of the Catholic Church)<>The Eucharist is "the source and summit of the Christian life." The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch. ( Catechism of the Catholic Church)

The other Sacraments give us grace, the Holy Eucharist gives us not only grace but the Author of all grace, Jesus, God and Man. It is the center of all else the Church has and does.

The age of discretion for First Reconciliation/Penance and Holy Communion is the time when a child begins to reason, that is about the seventh year. The Archdiocesan Guidelines will show the catechetical leader how to set up a program, plan parent meetings, select approved texts, and prepare the child for their First Communion.

Reconciliation/Penance
The Father has shown forth his mercy by reconciling the world to himself in Christ and by making peace for all things on earth and in heaven by the blood of Christ on the cross.  The Son of God made man lived among us in order to free us from the slavery of sin  and to call us out of darkness into his wonderful light.  He therefore began his work on earth by preaching repentance and saying: "Repent and believe the Gospel" (Mk 1:15). In Roman Catholic teaching, the sacrament of Penance (commonly called confession but more recently referred to as Reconciliation, or more fully the Sacrament of Reconciliation) is the method used by the Church by which individual men and women may confess sins committed after baptism and have them absolved by a priest. This sacrament is known by many names, including penance, reconciliation and confession (Catechism of the Catholic Church, Sections 1423-1442). Official Church publications always refer to the sacrament as "Penance", "Reconciliation" or "Penance and Reconciliation", many laypeople continue to use the term "confession" in reference to the sacrament. Roman Catholics believe that priests have been given the authority by Jesus and God to exercise the forgiveness of sins here on earth and it is in Jesus Holy Name by which the person confessing is forgiven.

Children shall be prepared for and given the opportunity to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation/Penance before the reception of the Eucharist. This usually happens in the second grade when the child is seven years old, but older children should also be prepared if they have not made their First Reconciliation/Penance.

How to... For First Reconciliation  (Print Friendly)

Anointing of the sick
Illness and suffering have always been among the gravest problems confronted in human life. In illness, man experiences his powerlessness, his limitations, and his finitude. Every illness can make us glimpse death.

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 Christ to confer inward grace. The Catholic Church professes and teaches that the Sacred Anointing of the Sick is one of the seven Sacraments of the New Testament.  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.

Introduction to Vocations

Marriage
For Catholics, the Sacrament of Marriage, or Holy Matrimony, is a public sign that one gives oneself totally to this other person. It is also a public statement about God: the loving union of husband and wife speaks of family values and also God's values.

Every marriage matters, because marriage comes from the hand of God. God brings a man and a woman together to love and support each other. Their love becomes visible in the children they bring into the world and in their acts of generous service.

In Catholic teaching, the valid marriage between two baptized Christians is also a sacrament. The love between the spouses symbolizes Christ’s love for the church.

According to Sacred Scripture, God instituted marriage as the peak of creation.  On the sixth day, in the first creation story, the Book of Genesis tells us: "God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them.  God blessed them, saying: 'Be fertile and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it'" (Genesis 1: 27-28).

Holy Orders
Holy Orders is the sacrament which continues Christ's mission through the grace and power given to men to carry out the sacred duties of deacons, priests or bishops.

The Sacrament of Holy Orders is one of the two sacraments of vocation. The other is the Sacrament of Matrimony.
 
The sacrament by which, through the authority of the Church, the imposition of a bishop’s hands confers on a man the grace and spiritual power to celebrate the Church’s sacraments.

There are three forms of this sacrament: diaconate (deacon), presbyterate (priest) and episcopate (bishop). One sacrament, celebrated three times with successively higher sacramental effects.

Every man in Holy Orders is either a deacon, priest or bishop. A monsignor, for instance, is a priest who has special recognition as a member of the papal household. An archbishop is a bishop in charge of a large or important diocese called an archdiocese. A cardinal is a special member of the papal household. Nearly all cardinals are bishops, but there are one or two cardinals who are priests, such as Avery Cardinal Dulles, are priests. The pope is the Bishop of Rome.

Only men can be ordained in the Sacrament of Holy Orders. The reasons are set forth in Pope John Paul II’s apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis. It concludes, “I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.”

But only a special few among men. Deacons, priests, and bishops are called by Jesus, who told His apostles, Jn 15:16 “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you.” The apostles hastened after Jesus when He called, Mk 1:16, 2:13 “Follow Me.” No man on earth has a right to be ordained. Those who sense a call from God to Holy Orders humbly submit to Church authority.

The Sacrament of Holy Orders imparts a special indelible character, a mark that God can see, on the human soul. Like the Holy Eucharist itself, the character of Holy Orders ontologically transforms a man interiorly while leaving his outer appearance unchanged. That character remains on his soul for all eternity, identifying him as one of God’s ordained servants. The sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation also impart indelible characters to the human soul that remain for all eternity.