The Sacraments

The Church is a Field Hospital for Sinners.

The Sacraments

The Sacraments are outward and visible signs of inward and invisible graces. There are seven sacraments:


1. Baptism
2. Confirmation
3. The Eucharist (Mass)
4. Confession
5. Marriage
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:


Baptism


It is through this sacrament that we are freed from sin, and reborn as a child of God to become members of God’s family, the Church. When children are baptised, they do so on the understanding that they will be brought up in the Christian faith, with the expectation that they will affirm that faith in the sacrament of Confirmation.


If you would like to explore the possibility of being baptised as an adult or by bringing your child to be baptised, please contact the office.



Confirmation


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.


The Eucharist (Mass, Holy Communion)


“There is nothing so great as the Eucharist. If God had something more precious He would have given it to us.” Saint John Vianney

The Eucharist is also known as the Blessed Sacrament. It is through the Eucharist that Christians can participate in the redemption which Christ has brought about on the Cross. By his death, Christ won the great victory – the forgiveness of our sins and the defeat of death itself. These sins could have separated us from heaven forever, but God had a different plan. Instead of Jesus leaving us, God built a bridge meaning that as we take Communion, we are sharing in Jesus’ body and blood. We are closer to God than ever as God literally comes under our roof.


The Blessed Sacrament, the reserved bread, is kept in the tabernacle (a sort of safe) in the side chapel so that we can pray before Jesus and worship him in his sacramental form. It is also used to take to the sick and dying. You can tell if the Blessed Sacrament is in the tabernacle because a white or red candle always burns nearby.


Mass is so central to our salvation that it has been celebrated at St Matthew’s almost every day since the 19th century. At Mass, we listen to the scripture and receive the body and blood of Jesus in order to grow as his followers the best we can. It is important that we value Jesus in the sacrament by attending and participating in Mass fully and enthusiastically.



Confession


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.



Marriage


Marriage is a gift given by God that allows husband and wife to ‘comfort and help each other, living faithfully together in need and in plenty, in sorrow and in joy’. By choosing to get married in a church, you are asking God to bless your marriage as he enables you to love and support one another as husband and wife, through the good times and the bad. The service can take place on its own or during the context of the Eucharist, referred to as a Nuptial Mass.


You can get married at one of our churches if you have not previously been married, and if either you or your fiancé(e) live in the parish, attend the church or are on the electoral roll. You may also get married here if you have a qualifying connection with the church, such as if a family member was baptised or married at one of our churches.



Holy Orders


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. 



Anointing


We believe that through anointing with the Holy Oils, we are able to experience the healing presence of Jesus. In the New Testament, the apostles laid their hands on the sick and anointed them with oil, which is a sign of God’s presence and protection over us.


Although we may not have a physical sickness or incapacity, we can still be anointed as God wants to heal us from all our troubles whether they are in mind or spirit as well as the body. We can also receive anointing/laying of hands for someone else who is on our mind.


The priest will lay his hands on the head of the individual and pray for them in a moment of stillness. They will anoint their palms and their forehead with Holy Oil that has been blessed by the Bishop with the sign of the cross, representing the touch of Jesus.


(c) St Mary's and St Matthew's PCC