Like all the sacraments, Baptism is first and foremost, a sign of God’s everlasting and unconditional love for each child He has created. He claims the child as His own.
At Baptism, God shares with the child His own divine life by imparting the gift of the Holy Spirit. The child enjoys a new relationship with God the Father, in light of his/her connection with Christ, the Son. Christ strengthens the child to live as one of His disciples. Christ calls on parent(s) and godparent(s) to foster and nurture the life of faith and discipleship in the child.
Christ initiates the child into His Mystical Body, the Church. This initiation is completed by the sacraments of Confirmation and Eucharist. Christ frees the child from the sinfulness of the world by the power of God’s Spirit dwelling in him/her.
The Holy Eucharist is the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ. At Mass, when the priest pronounces the words of consecration, "This is my body...this is my blood" the substance of bread is changed into the Body and Blood of Jesus and the substance of wine is changed into the Body and Blood of Jesus. This is why Catholics fast one hour before receiving Communion and if they are not in the State of Grace, they go to Confession before receiving Holy Communion. Another way that we show our respect and belief in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist is by genuflecting as we enter the Church.
When Catholics receive Holy Communion, they spend some time in a prayer of thanksgiving to Jesus for coming to their souls. This is a very special time when we speak personally to Christ who is physically within us while the sacramental species are still present (about 10 minutes).
Jesus promised, "I will be with you always until the end of time" on Ascension Day (Mt 28:23). Now His promise is fulfilled in the Holy Eucharist.
Holy Chrismation is performed by anointing with a sacred oil, consecrated by the bishop on Holy Thursday called – chrism. Hence the proper name of the mystery – Holy Chrismation. In Greek the chrism is called – myron, therefore in Old-Slavonic the mystery is called – Myropomazanije, meaning the anointing with myro. In the Western World they call this sacrament – Confirmation.
To understand what it is to be fully human, we need to look at Jesus Christ. Jesus was truly God; he was the Son who lived among us as a fully human person. He was exactly the same as us in all things. He ate like us, he laughed and cried like us, he loved like us and he suffered like us.
The only difference between Jesus’ humanity and ours is that sin played no part in his life. He did not sin. And the reason he did not sin was because he was fully human exactly as God had intended every man and woman to be. Jesus shows us what it is to be a true and complete human being.
Sin enters our lives when we are being less than fully human. Every time we think, say, or do something which is not a reflection of Jesus’ humanity, we sin. But sin doesn’t stop there because so much of what we do or fail to do affects other people. The domino effect of damaging relationships, isolation, and breakdowns in communication, all serve to cut us off from others and so distort and damage people. Sin damages not only individuals but also whole communities.
Throughout his life Jesus worked and preached endlessly among all sorts of people to bring down the barriers which divided them. He emphasized over and over again that we are all God’s children, God’s family, God’s Chosen People. Following his Resurrection, Jesus’ followers gathered together and became a community. They were united in listening to the words of Jesus and experiencing his active love in the work of his Spirit in their lives. They knew what it was to be fully human but they were also still very weak and easily discouraged.
Becoming fully human
Even in the first accounts of the early Church we can read about tensions, disagreements, and rejection within this community of believers. Clearly, in spite of all that they had experienced, they remained fragile and many of them carried within them the damage caused by sin from past years. No one becomes fully human overnight or even in a year or two. It takes time. And while we are growing towards full humanity we need help. As we have seen, during his life on earth, Jesus recognized this and constantly offered healing and reconciliation to the people he met.
Peace and reconciliation
Following his Resurrection, Jesus appeared to his disciples, his followers, and offered them first of all his peace. As they were gathered together, full of shame about the way they had deserted him, full of fear about their future and full of questions about who he really was, Christ came to them. And his first word was “Peace”. The overwhelming love of God washed over them all. Everything else could wait, the words of regret, sorrow and shame. The most important point Jesus wanted to make was that he loved them, he understood them and he wanted to restore any damage to their relationship with him. Jesus then continued: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you”. After saying this he breathed on them and said: “Receive the Holy Spirit. For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained”.
He asked his followers to continue his work. To enable them to do this he promised the gift of his Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit would be with them to guide them, heal them and infuse them with Christ’s spirit of reconciliation.
ANOINTING OF THE SICK
This Sacrament is conferred upon those who because of illness or old age are in danger of death. Jesus instituted this Sacrament by giving example through the many healings he performed. During the physical healing, Jesus also healed the spirit of the one who was ailing. (Mk 2:5-12, Mk 7: 32-36, Mk 36:9-23)
If it is possible, the Sacrament of Confession may take place before. The priest anoints forehead and the hands with the Oil of the Sick and says, "Through this holy anointing may the Lord in his love and mercy help you with the grace of the Holy Spirit. May the Lord who frees you from sin save you and raise you up." He then administers Holy Communion. In this special case, Communion is called" viaticum" which means "go with you" - Jesus goes with the sick on their passing over to the heavenly Father. The special graces of the Sacrament of the Sick are:
When two people come forward to be married by a Catholic priest, the Church is the most appropriate place for the Sacrament because two people are calling upon God to be their witness and to join them together at the foot of His altar. Marriage is a public and a sacred act.
A time of preparation and study is required before receiving this most important Sacrament. Couples are expected to be coming to Church and practising the faith before requesting God's blessing upon their union.
Holy Matrimony is a blessed state of life where the union of spouses occasions their holiness and in which couples co-operate in the procreation of children. These children are a blessing for parents who will teach them the way of love of God by their example of living in harmony with Him and with one another.
Please contact the Parish Office if you have any other questions regarding the preparation for Holy Matrimony.
Sacraments are actions of Christ and of the Church. They are signs and means by which faith is expressed and strengthened. By offering worship to God, our sanctification is brought about. (Code of Canon Law, 840)
Jesus instituted the sacraments and he entrusted them to the Church. Each sacrament gives us Sanctifying Grace, which is an increase of Faith, Hope and Charity - these are traditionally known as the Theological Virtues. Sanctifying Grace is first received at Baptism where Original Sin is washed away and we are made adopted sons and daughters of God, like Jesus, and we become members of the Catholic Church. Only serious sin can remove Sanctifying Grace from our souls and this can be restored again to us through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Catholics try to receive the sacraments as often as possible because they have the ability to sanctify and strengthen us. When we receive the sacraments and live in the state of grace, we become more like Christ on earth.
Copyright © St.Catherine of Alexandria Catholic Church (Byzantine rite). All rights reserved.