Sacraments

Sacraments

This page will tell you about the seven sacraments of the Church.

For specific information on each sacrament, and how to receive them in our parish, please use the drop-down menu above.

What is a sacrament? A sacrament is “an outward sign of inward grace” but what does that mean? Sacraments are instituted by Christ and they are guarantees that when we do something (the outward sign), God will give us his transforming graces (the inward grace). For example, when water is poured over our heads with the words “I baptise you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” then God gives baptismal graces to that person. They receive the gift of faith, that persons soul is changed, forever, they open to receiving further graces and sacraments and any marks of original sin are removed.

There are seven different sacraments in the Church. They are Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist (known collectively as the sacraments if initiation), Reconciliation, Marriage, Holy Orders and the Sacrament of the Sick. Each of them has its own outward sign comprising of some words and a symbolic act. These include laying on of hands, anointing with oil, presenting bread and wine, coming together as a couple and so on. Each sacrament gives its own special graces. To find out more about each sacrament please look on the individual pages of this website.

Who may receive a sacrament? It depends on the sacrament: any unbaptised person who wishes to become a member of the Catholic Church may be baptised. Thereafter, to receive the other sacraments one has to be baptised first. The faithful have the right to receive the sacraments so long as they are duly prepared and know what it is that they are doing. As such, the Church asks that there be a time of preparation and learning (catechesis) be undertaken prior to receiving a sacrament. This time of learning can happen at different stages of our lives. Most Catholics will receive the Eucharist for the first time (1st Holy Communion) when they are aged 7 to 9 having had a period of preparation at school. However, marriage isn’t undertaken until adulthood.

How do I prepare to receive a sacrament? Depending on your age and the sacrament being received, there are different ways to prepare – it could be during lessons at school or attending a series of classes. More information will be found on the individual pages of this site.

Is there a charge to receive a sacrament? God gives his graces free through the action of the minister and as such, no charge is ever made for the sacraments. However, it is customary that the priest be given a ‘stole-fee’ and a donation made to the parish to help offset the costs incurred in paperwork and maintaining the parish estate. Some sacraments like marriage involve a lot of legal paperwork! Please never let expense turn you away from receiving the sacraments.

Can I receive a sacrament more than once? It depends on the sacrament: for example, baptism, confirmation and ordination as a deacon or priest can only be given once . Once you’re baptised, confirmed or ordained then that’s it: you cannot undo the fact that it’s happened and that you are now baptised person, a confirmed person, or an ordained person.

Going to confession, however, and receiving the sacrament of reconciliation is a different matter. In a lifetime we can go as often has we want to – and it’s right to go frequently. Every time we fall into serious sin we should go to confession to have God’s healing grace take those sins away. The same is true of the Eucharist and anointing when we are sick, these sacraments may be received many times. Marriage is received only once, unless one of the spouses dies and then the sacrament maybe celebrated again with a new partner.

 

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