Sacraments are central for Catholics. They help us meet the incarnate Jesus, who comes to us through cleansing water and invigorating oil to welcome us, life-giving bread and wine that become Christ’s Body and Blood, a hand outstretched in forgiveness, vows lovingly exchanged in marriage, a hand designating someone for ordained service and oil to strengthen the sick and comfort the dying.
The Latin word sacramentum means “a sign of the sacred.” The seven sacraments are ceremonies that point to what is sacred, significant and important for Christians. They are special occasions for experiencing God’s saving presence. That is what theologians mean when they say that sacraments are at the same time signs and instruments of God’s grace.
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “Celebrated worthily in faith, the sacraments confer the grace that they signify. They are efficacious because in them Christ himself is at work; it is he who baptises, he who acts in his sacraments in order to communicate the grace that each sacrament signifies”.
Baptism is the first sacrament of Christian Initiation. In baptism we are made one with Christ and a member of the Church. We are claimed by Christ when we are marked with the sign of the cross and joined to Christ as we are baptised with water – in the name of the Father, the Son and of the Holy Spirit.READ MORE
Confirmation is the second Sacrament of Christian Initiation. The Bishop, as leader of the diocesan Church community (or his delegate) administers confirmation. Through the Laying on of Hands and Anointing with Chrism our baptismal commitment is confirmed. Through the gifts of the Holy SpiritREAD MORE
The process of Christian Initiation is completed when the person comes to the table to receive communion for the first time. We believe eucharist makes the Church. The Church is made: in the gathering of the community, on Sunday – the Lord’s day, in listening to and reflecting on God’s word, in the offering of our lives to God. in our transformation, in our being sent to live as disciples of Jesus.READ MORE
Penance comes from a Greek word that means to change direction. It is the sacrament that helps us acknowledge the frailty and limits of our humanity. By honestly owning, naming and expressing sorrow for where we have failed, we can experience forgiveness which in turn, deepens our capacity to love. The Sacrament of Penance then allows us to start afresh and re-invigorates our baptismal commitment to be 'other Christs' in the world.
In the sacrament of marriage (matrimony) a man and woman publicly commit to give themselves to each other in a loving, faithful and life-long relationship. Unlike other sacraments, the couple ministers this sacrament to each other. The priest is present as a witness, in the name of God and of the community.
This sacrament continues Jesus' ministry of care and compassion to the sick and frail in our communities. Sickness and pain can often be a heavy burden for people. When the priest, in the name of the faith community, anoints the person with the Oil of the Sick, the strengthening power of oil and the comfort of touch remind the sick person that they are not alone in their suffering, but held in prayer by the community.