The Sacraments are outward and visible signs of inward and invisible graces. There are seven sacraments:
3. The Eucharist (Mass)
6. Holy Orders
7. Anointing of the Sick
In the ministry of Jesus, we see how God uses ordinary things and ordinary people to do extraordinary things. God uses water in Baptism to cleanse us from sin and give us life. In Holy Communion, God transforms simple bread and wine into a partaking of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. In anointing of the sick with oil, on the forehead and hands, God’s Spirit strengthens people for their journey through life towards eternal life of Heaven.
People become Christians through opening their heart to God and then by belonging to God’s family, the Church. We become members of the worldwide Church through our Baptism (also known as a Christening). Like the Mass and Confession, Baptism is a sacrament. In Baptism, we receive grace from God to become his adopted sons and daughters and inheritors of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Being a Christian doesn’t stop with Baptism. We must live out our faith in our daily lives. We can do this by:
If you were baptised as a child, Confirmation gives you the opportunity to affirm the faith that your parents and godparents expressed on your behalf. It consists of the laying on of hands and anointing with holy oil by the Bishop.
Christians believe that when the bishop lays hands on a person’s head at Confirmation they are gifted with the grace of the Holy Spirit. It is a great opportunity to publicly declare your Christian faith and increases and deepens the grace received at your baptism.
Have you ever wanted to know for sure that you were forgiven for a stupid or unkind thing that you’ve done, which still nags at your conscience? Have you ever wanted to discuss the recurring problems of the spiritual life with a priest? Have you ever wanted to have a companion or guide to help you deal with the ups and downs of being a Christian and battling against sin? The sacrament of Confession is given to us as a remedy for all these concerns. For Christians, sin is anything that leads us away from God and from the love of our neighbour. This does not mean that God does not want us to enjoy life or that he wants us to be unhappy. Rather, God simply wants us to live in a way that is best for us and for our neighbour.
When we make a confession to a priest, we tell him the things we have done wrong. We are given advice and counsel, and the priest then pronounces absolution. Absolution lets us know for sure that those things on our conscience are put away for ever, and that God forgives us. In other words, the firm knowledge that the slate has been wiped clean.
Everyone has a vocation. Some of us are called to be single, some are called to be married, others to the religious life and some to holy orders.
Ordained ministry is a vocation to lead and build up the church. Those men who been ordained are able to celebrate the sacraments, in particular the Eucharist, to other Christians. Those called to ordained ministry as deacon, priest or bishop receive the grace to perform their ministry through the sacrament of Holy Orders. To be called to serve in the ordained ministry is not to be promoted; the ordained are called to be servants. The ministerial priesthood is at the service of the common priesthood. Ordained ministry is a very specific calling and those who offer themselves to the Church for this ministry should only do so after a period of discernment. Ordained ministry is highly rewarding, but it should be understood that it is also a great burden.
There is a significant amount of training to be undertaken prior to ordination to the Diaconate and then the Priesthood normally a year later. Deacons can preach, perform baptisms, officiate at funerals and witness marriages. Priests are able to do these in addition to hearing confessions, anointing and celebrating the Mass. As a bishop has the fullness of the sacrament of Holy Orders, this means they can confirm and ordain deacons, priests and other bishops.