There are seven sacraments of the Catholic Church, which were instituted by Jesus and entrusted to the Church. Sacraments are visible rites seen as signs and efficacious channels of the grace of God to all those who receive them with the proper disposition. The sevenfold list of sacraments is often organized into three groups: the sacraments of initiation (into the Church, the body of Christ), consisting of Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist; the sacraments of healing, consisting of Penance and Anointing of the Sick; and the sacraments of service: Holy Orders and Matrimony.
THE SACRAMENT OF BAPTISM
Why baptize? What does Baptism do?
Baptism is the first of the three “Sacraments of Christian Initiation.” Confirmation and Eucharist are the others. Baptism welcomes the person into the family of God and membership in the Body of Christ. It is a Sacrament we receive only once.
Baptism is the greatest gift a person can receive, whether as an infant, child, or adult. Baptism frees us from sin and starts us on our life-long journey to know and love God. It is through Baptism that we are born again -- regenerated -- of water and Spirit and receive new life. Baptism is not something to “get done” because of family tradition. It is the entry into a Catholic Christian community and a life of faith in Jesus Christ. This is why the Catholic Church encourages baptism in infancy rather than waiting until a child can choose for his/herself. Why deprive a child of God’s special love and a good start in a life of faith by delaying baptism until later?
It is recommended that both the parents and godparents come spiritually prepared on the day of the baptism, having recently received the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
What are the ‘conditions’ for an infant baptism?
At least one of the parents must be Catholic and give their consent to the baptism.
There must be a reasonable hope that the child will be brought up in the Catholic faith.
Both the parents and the godparents of the child to be baptized should be instructed on the meaning and the obligations of the sacrament.
THE SACRAMENT OF RECONCILIATION
The Sacrament of Penance, commonly called Confession, is one of the seven sacraments recognized by the Catholic Church. Catholics believe that all of the sacraments were instituted by Jesus Christ himself. In the case of Confession, that institution occurred on Easter Sunday, when Christ first appeared to the apostles after his Resurrection. Breathing on them, he said: “Receive the Holy Spirit. For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained”
Come Home to Confession
Confession isn’t as scary as you might think! If you know someone who has been away from the Church or the sacrament of Confession for some time, encourage them to receive this most powerful sacrament, where we encounter Jesus Christ and receive his mercy.
Why Is Confession Necessary?
Non-Catholics, and even many Catholics, often ask whether they can confess their sins directly to God, and whether God can forgive them without going through a priest. On the most basic level, of course, the answer is yes, and Catholics should make frequent acts of contrition, which are prayers in which we tell God that we are sorry for our sins and ask for His forgiveness. Any baptized Catholic may receive this sacrament. There is no limit to the number of times we can be forgiven for our sins!
But the question misses the point of the Sacrament of Confession. The sacrament, by its very nature, confers graces that help us to live a Christian life, which is why the Church requires us to receive it at least once per year. Moreover, it was instituted by Christ as the proper form for the forgiveness of our sins. Therefore, we should not only be willing to receive the sacrament, but we should embrace it as a gift from a loving God.
Catholics who have committed serious sin are not to receive the Eucharist until their serious sin has been forgiven in the Sacrament of Reconciliation
THE SACRAMENT OF THE HOLY EUCHARIST
The Church draws her life from the Eucharist. This truth does not simply express a daily experience of faith, but recapitulates the heart of the mystery of the Church. In a variety of ways she joyfully experiences the constant fulfilment of the promise: “Lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Mt 28:20), but in the Holy Eucharist, through the changing of bread and wine into the body and blood of the Lord, she rejoices in this presence with unique intensity. (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 1)
The Eucharistic sacrifice is the “the source and summit of the Christian life." The Second Vatican Council teaches that “at the Last Supper, on the night when 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 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 eaten, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us.” (Sacrosanctum Concilium no. 47)
The Holy Eucharist is a mystery as profound and unfathomable as the Trinity. One does not understand how Christ can assume the form of bread and wine. One believes; if it helps to substitute the word understand, then we must understand that the bread looks like bread but is not bread, it is the Body of Christ. The wine looks like wine but is not wine, it is the Blood of Christ.
THE SACRAMENT OF EUCHARIST
In the Sacrament of the Eucharist, the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ is contained “truly, really, and substantially.” (Council of Trent, Session XIII, Can. 1)The Eucharist therefore is not a mere symbol but rather the Eucharist is God Himself. This is why Our Lord says: “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him.” (John 6: 53-56)
Catholics who have received First Communion are encouraged to receive Communion at Mass regularly. A person is to be in a state of grace while receiving communion, that is, a person must not be conscious of having committed any mortal sins since their last confession. Also, Catholics are required to fast from everything but medicine and water at least an hour before receiving communion.
THE SACRAMENT OF CONFIRMATION
Just as bodies and minds grow, Catholics believe that the soul also needs to grow in the life of grace. The sacrament of Confirmation builds on the sacraments of Baptism, Penance, and Holy Communion, completing the process of initiation into the Catholic community.
Confirmation is one of the seven sacraments through which Catholics pass in the process of their religious upbringing and establishes young adults as full-fledged members of the faith. According to Catholic doctrine, in this sacrament they are sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit and are strengthened in their Christian life.
During Confirmation, the focus is on the Holy Spirit, who confirmed the apostles on Pentecost and gave them courage to practice their faith. Catholics believe that the same Holy Spirit confirms Catholics during the Sacrament of Confirmation and gives them the same gifts. By Confirmation they are enriched with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and are more closely linked to the Catholic Church. They are made strong soldiers of Christ, and so they are more firmly obliged by word and deed to be faithful witnesses of Christ, spreading and defending the Catholic faith.
During our Baptism, our parents and godparents make promises to renounce Satan and believe in God and the Church on our behalf. At Confirmation, we renew those same promises, this time speaking for ourselves. The sacrament is customarily conferred only on people old enough to understand it, and the ordinary minister of Confirmation is a bishop. Only for a serious reason may the diocesan bishop delegate a priest to administer the sacrament. Priests typically administer the sacrament during the Easter Vigil Mass to adults becoming members of the Catholic Church. It is the conclusion of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) program. Priests customarily ask for and are granted permission for this occasion.
Traditionally, the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude (courage), knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. These gifts are supernatural graces given to the soul. The 12 fruits of the Holy Spirit are charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, Self-control, and chastity — human qualities that can be activated by the Holy Spirit.
RECEIVING THE SACRAMENT OF CONFIRMATION
In the Diocese of Nelson, the Sacrament of Confirmation is administered in grade 7.
Preparation for this Sacrament begins in first grade. For children attending grade 7 and higher, we are happy to prepare you to receive the sacrament.
THE SACRAMENT OF HOLY MATRIMONY
It is our hope and prayer that your marriage will bring you happiness and blessings throughout your lives. Wedding arrangements are certainly necessary and important but we hope that you will not lose sight that Marriage is a Sacrament – a sacred sign of your love for each other in Christ. May Christ abundantly bless your love and enrich and strengthen you to undertake the duties of marriage in mutual and lasting fidelity. The sacrament of Matrimony signifies the union of Christ and the Church. It gives the spouses the grace to love each other with the love with which Christ has loved his Church; the grace of the sacrament thus perfects the human love of the spouses, strengthens their indissoluble unity and sanctifies them on the way to eternal life.
The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament.
They make this pledge before the Priest and other witnesses. The Church considers this bond to be sacred, unbreakable, and binding until the death of one of the spouses.
Marriage, like priesthood, religious, or single life, is a vocation – a calling from God. The Sacrament of marriage gives the husband and wife the grace to live a life focused on serving God through their love for one another and to raise their children in the Catholic faith.
Couples planning to marry at Immaculate Conception Parish are asked to contact the parish priest at least six months prior to the date desired (one year prior would not be too early). This process includes meeting with the priest, a premarital program and the preparation of documents for a wedding file. At least one of the intended spouses must be Roman Catholic. All must be in compliance with Canon Law concerning marriage, and no date can be set until the initial investigation is complete.
Please do not book halls or restaurants before first appointment.
THE SACRAMENT OF HOLY ORDERS
Holy Orders is the sacrament by which bishops, priests and deacons are ordained and receive the power and grace to perform their sacred duties. The sacred rite by which orders are conferred is called ordination. The apostles were ordained by Jesus at the Last Supper so that others could share in his priesthood.
Holy Orders, which was instituted by Christ himself, is administered by the laying on of hands by the Bishop, through which the priest is given the power to serve the Church through his preaching, teaching and celebration of the Sacraments.
Might God be calling you? If you are a Catholic man who thinks God might be calling you to the priesthood, we encourage you to visit The Diocesan Vocations Director.
THE SACRAMENT OF ANOINTING OF THE SICK
The Anointing of the Sick, is the Sacrament by which, through the prayers of a priest and the anointing with holy oil, a person who is in danger of death from sickness is given health of the soul and sometimes also of the body.
This Sacrament is often combined with the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist. These give the person additional spiritual strength and grace. If the person is near death, the Eucharist is called “Viaticum” which means “food for the journey”. It strengthens us for our journey home to God.
The anointing of the sick is not a sacrament for those only who are at the point of death. It is prudent to receive the Anointing of the Sick for those who are gravely ill, in danger of death, have been seriously injured, prior to serious operations or whenever there is a serious danger to health. This anointing and the accompanying prayers strengthen the person that they may endure their suffering and assure them that God walks with them through their difficult times.
The special grace of the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick has as its effects:
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 old 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 his soul; the preparation for passing over to eternal life.
We are happy to provide the sacraments for those who are ill or infirmed at home or in hospital. Communion can be received, even on a regular basis, and Confession and Anointing of the Sick as needed.
For questions about Anointing of the Sick or to schedule an appointment with a Priest for the Sacrament, please call the parish office at 250-762-3910.