Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Holy Spirit and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as children of God. We become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission: “Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water and in the word”.
The word ‘Baptism’ means to “plunge” or “immerse”. The “plunge” into the water symbolises the person’s burial into Christ’s death, from which they rise up by resurrection with Him.
PENANCE & RECONCILIATION
Those who approach the Sacrament of Penance obtain pardon, from God’s mercy, for the offenses committed against Him. At the same time they are reconciled with the Church (which they have wounded by their sins) by charity, example, prayer and labours for their conversion.
This sacrament is also known as the following:
- The Sacrament of Conversion: It represents Jesus’ call to conversion, the first step in returning to the Father from whom one has strayed by sin.
- The Sacrament of Penance: It represents the sinner’s personal and ecclesial steps of conversion, penance, and satisfaction.
- The Sacrament of Confession: It represents the disclosure or confession of sins to a priest as an essential element of this sacrament.
- The Sacrament of Forgiveness: It represents the priest’s sacramental absolution by which God grants the penitent “pardon and peace.”
- The Sacrament of Reconciliation: It imparts to the sinner the love of God who reconciles. He who lives by God’s merciful love is ready to respond to the Lord’s call: “Go; first be reconciled to your brother.”
SACRAMENT OF EUCHARIST
At the Last Supper, on the night He was betrayed, our Saviour instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice of His Body and Blood. He did this in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the ages until He should come again.
The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life. The other sacraments, ministries and works of the Church, are bound with the Eucharist. In the Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ Himself.
SACRAMENT OF CONFIRMATION
Baptism, the Eucharist, and the Sacrament of Confirmation together constitute the “Sacraments of Christian initiation”. The reception of the Sacrament of Confirmation is necessary for the completion of baptismal grace. By the Sacrament of Confirmation, the baptised are more perfectly bound to the Church and are enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit. Hence they are, as true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed.
The liturgy of Confirmation begins with the renewal of baptismal promises and the profession of faith by the confirmands. This clearly shows that Confirmation follows Baptism. The sacrament is then conferred through the anointing with chrism on the forehead, which is done by the laying on of the hand, and through the words: “Be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit.”
ANOINTING OF THE SICK
By the sacred Anointing of the Sick and the prayer of the priests, the whole Church commends those who are ill to the suffering and glorified Lord, that He may raise them up and save them. And indeed she exhorts them to contribute to the good of the People of God by freely uniting themselves to the Passion and death of Christ.
The celebration of the Anointing of the Sick consists essentially in the anointing of the forehead and hands of the sick person. This is accompanied by the liturgical prayer of the celebrant asking for the special grace of this sacrament. The special grace of the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick provides:
- The uniting of the sick person to the passion of Christ, for his own good and that of the whole Church.
- The strengthening, peace and courage to endure in a Christian manner the sufferings of illness or age.
- The forgiveness of sins, if the sick person was not able to obtain it through the Sacrament of Penance.
- The restoration of health, if it is conducive to the salvation of their souls.
- The preparation for passing over to eternal life.
SACRAMENT OF MARRIAGE
Sacred scripture begins with the creation of man and woman in the image and likeness of God and concludes with a vision of “the wedding-feast of the Lamb.” Scripture speaks throughout of marriage and its mystery; its institution and the meaning God has given it; its origin and its end; its various realisations throughout the history of salvation; the difficulties arising from sin and its renewal “in the Lord”.
The various marriage liturgies abound in prayers of blessing and epiclesis (prayer of invocation for the Holy Spirit) asking God’s grace and blessing on the new couple. In the epiclesis of this sacrament the spouses receive the Holy Spirit as the communion of love of Christ and the Church. The Holy Spirit is the seal of their covenant, the ever-available source of their love and the strength to renew their fidelity.
Holy Orders is the sacrament through which the mission entrusted by Christ to his apostles continues to be exercised in the Church until the end of time: thus it is the sacrament of apostolic ministry. It includes three orders: bishop, priest, and deacon.
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