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The Sacraments

In the Catholic Church, there are seven sacraments. A sacrament is a gift from God, and a visible sign of an invisible reality. So what this means is that we can physically see the material and elements, like the water, wedding rings, oil, etc, but the secret is what we can't see. It's a bit like when you eat vegetables. Vegetables make you healthier and are good for us. We can only see the food in front of us, but what we can't see is is the power it's giving to our bodies that are making us healthy. When we receive a sacrament, God is giving us grace. We can't see grace, but grace is a supernatural power that helps us grow closer to Jesus. It is very good to have grace. 

Jesus gives us the sacraments to help us in our journey to God, and to know Jesus in our hearts and minds. The Holy Spirit works through us in every sacrament we receive, and gives us more understanding and wisdom. The sacraments are visible signs of God's love for us, and we are asked to receive the sacraments with genuine faith.

All seven sacraments are connected to Scripture. Most sacraments were even symbols in the Old Testament as well, such as baptism. These events in the Old Testament points forward to the sacraments that we have now.

When we have a sacrament, the Holy Spirit comes down and makes us stronger people. God set up these sacraments because He loves us, and wants us to experience love in an amazing way.

 

The seven sacraments in the Catholic Church are baptism, confirmation, reconciliation, holy communion, marriage, holy orders, and the anointing of the sick. The first three sacraments (baptism, confirmation, and holy communion) are called the sacraments of initiation. If you were raised Catholic, these are the sacraments you normally would receive in the first 10 years of your life. They lay the foundation for individual Christian lives. 

Click or scroll down and check out each sacrament in more detail.

 

1 Peter 3:21

That water is like baptism that now saves you—not the washing of dirt from the body, but the promise made to God from a good heart. And this is because Jesus Christ was raised from death.

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Baptism 

Baptism is the first sacrament you receive in the Catholic Church. If you were raised Catholic, you would normally be baptised as a baby. We are wiped clean of our sins and reborn into the family of God through baptism, and we participate in Jesus' life and ministry. In baptism, we share in the Church's missions and we also start to receive the Holy Spirit's guidance.


Similar to the story of Noah and the flood in the book of Genesis, baptism transforms us into a new person. During baptism we participate in Christ's death, but we are then raised to a new spiritual life by coming out of the water. We are baptised in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This form of baptism is known as a Trinitarian baptism.

 

In the entrance of any Catholic Church, you'll find a small font with water. This is called holy water. Through holy water, Catholics are reminded of their baptism and the promises that they made. We become one with the universal church when we dip our figures in the water and make the sign of the cross.

 

In baptism, your parents, or the person who is raising you, speaks on behalf of you. They say special promises to God and they themselves promise they will raise you to know God and follow His Will. You would also have a Godparent if you've been baptised. This man or woman acts like a spiritual parent outside your family. A Godparent prays for you and can help you in different ways in your spiritual journey. If you were baptised as a baby, maybe you can ask your mum or dad about the promises that they said on your behalf at your baptism. 

Acts 2:1:1-4

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a noise came from heaven. It sounded like a strong wind blowing. This noise filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw something that looked like flames of fire. The flames were separated and stood over each person there. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they began to speak different languages.

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Confirmation

Confirmation is one of the three sacraments of initiation in the Catholic Church. You receive the sacrament of confirmation when you are usually around 10 years old. During confirmation, participants are given the gifts of the Holy Spirit. These are called the 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit, and are gifts of wisdom, understanding, fortitude, knowledge, piety, counsel, and fear of the Lord.  

Jesus had promised before He returned to Heaven that He would give us a new helper. This helper is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit was given to the followers of Jesus at Pentecost. The disciples were given the courage and faith to go out and share the good news in the streets by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Individuals in the Catholic Church receiving confirmation have hands laid on them and are anointed with oil. Confirmation is the strengthening of faith, just like the disciples received to go out and proclaim the Gospel. Christ’s work has become our work, and we are being sent on a mission by the Holy Spirit to seek the truth more fully, and to put our faith into good works. 

In confirmation you say what you believe in faith. It is a very special time because the Holy Spirit comes to us by an invisible power, and we get a new spiritual strength to share about God. 

When you receive the sacrament of confirmation, you can choose a person who you know to pray for you and to encourage you in your faith. This person is called a Confirmation Sponsor, and they come with you to your confirmation ceremony. 

1 John 1:9

But if we confess our sins, he will forgive our sins. We can trust God. He does what is right. He will make us clean from all the wrongs we have done.

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Reconciliation

Reconciliation is a extra special time in our journey with God. it is the time when we reflect on our actions, and when we ask Jesus for forgiveness for our wrong doings. During the sacrament of reconciliation, the priest who we talk to, is acting in the person of Jesus (in persona Christi). Jesus made priests to have the power to speak on behalf of Him. 

 

Going to the reconciliation isn't a punishment for our behaviour, and we shouldn't be ashamed to go to reconciliation. Everyone does the wrong thing sometimes and needs to say sorry. The good thing is that we have a very loving and forgiving God who freely forgives our sins, and continues to always love us. Before we talk to the priest, we should reflect on our relationships with God, our parents or carers and our friends. We should think of any time when we weren't caring or kind to others, and we should tell the priest times that we didn't choose to do the right thing. 

 

Reconciliation helps us in many ways in our spiritual life. It helps us grow closer to God, because when we are honest about our actions, we free ourselves from any anger or fear we might have within us. When we go to reconciliation, the Holy Spirit comes to us to help us be better people to God, and to other people. 

 

It is sometimes really hard to tell people when you have done something wrong, but God wants us to tell the truth to Him and everyone because we become holier people when we are honest. You can go to the sacrament of reconciliation as many times as you want in your life. It is very important to go because by saying sorry and asking Jesus for forgiveness, we grow closer to Him, and love Him more.

After we tell the priest what we have done wrong, He will give us a little task to do that will help  us come closer to God, and turn away from sin. This is called "an act of penance". The act of penance shows God that we are making an effort on our side to do what is right.

Matthew 26:26-28

While they were eating, Jesus took some bread. He thanked God for it and broke it. Then he gave it to his followers and said, “Take this bread and eat it. This bread is my body.”

Then Jesus took a cup. He thanked God for it and gave it to the followers. He said, “Every one of you drink this. This is my blood which begins the newagreement that God makes with his people. This blood is poured out for many to forgive their sins.

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Holy Communion (the Eucharist)

The Eucharist is a mystery of faith. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that the Eucharist is "the source and summit of the Christian life", which means that the Eucharist is Christ Himself, and because of that, it is the highest sacrament in the Catholic Church.

 

The word Eucharist in Greek is Eucharistia, which means "Thanksgiving." So, every time we celebrate the Eucharist, we give thanks to Jesus Christ and remember His one sacrifice on the cross. Holy Communion gives us the opportunity to reflect and ponder about the death of Jesus, and the eternal love that He has for us. The Eucharist is a meal that we share with other Catholics, which is why we also call it holy communion.

 

From the very moment that Adam and Eve committed the first sin, God had the plan on how He was going to restore the world. The Eucharist is the fulfilment of the Passover that we learn about in the Old Testament. Passover was when God instructed Moses to tell all the Israelites to sacrifice a lamb and to have it for a meal, freeing them from the angel of death and, later, slavery in Egypt. The Eucharist is also the fulfilment of the manna in the desert that God brought down from Heaven, so the Israelites could eat when they were homeless. 

In some sense, we too are homeless in a spiritual way, because our home is meant to be in Heaven with God. But by receiving the Eucharist, God is feeding us spiritual food from Heaven; which is Christ himself. 

 

In all these times we say thank you to the Lord for help; but the biggest thank you we can give is, thanking God for giving His own self to us through the bread and the wine in the Mass. 

Jesus instituted the Eucharist at the Last Supper when He broke bread and gave it, with the cup of wine to the disciples, saying, "This is my body" and "This is my blood."

The Catholic Church teaches that the Eucharist is the real Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. The Last Supper and the crucifixion of Jesus are seen as one sacrifice in the Catholic Church.

Genesis 2:24

So a man will leave his father and mother and be united with his wife. And the two people will become one body.

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Marriage

We were created to love, and to be loved.

 

Marriage should be a strong example of God's love, and it should remind people of the covenant that God made with the world, and mankind. Marriage is a covenant between a man, a woman and God that is intended to be a union, and oneness forever on earth.

 

Christians know that when God created Adam in the book of Genesis, marriage was first created. God made Eve to be Adam's partner because He didn't want Adam to live alone. The husband and wife fully dedicate themselves to one another in marriage, reflecting God's family. If the man and woman are Catholic, they usually would get married in a Catholic Church. Getting married in a Catholic Church is very special because you are in the presence of Jesus (in the tabernacle).

 

The physical and spiritual church helps the married couple to love and serve another.  You don't have to be a Christian to get married, and you may marry someone of a different faith.

The Catholic Church sees marriage as a vocation - which is a calling from God to serve others through a special job. The church requires that a man and woman enter into marriage without any force of anyone, and that the marriage should last until death. The man and woman cannot already be related to the person, be married to someone else, or have joined a religious order.

Marriage should be taken very seriously. In any marriage, vows are said between the couple. These vows are oaths to commit themselves to each other, to serve and love each other, as long as they live on earth. When you say those words in a wedding vow, you are committing yourself to do the best of your ability to uphold and to live those promises out. 

Not everyone needs to have this sacrament. You can choose to be married or not, but it is very special in the life of the Catholic faith. 

Acts 20:28

Be careful for yourselves and for all the people God has given you. The Holy Spirit gave you the work of caring for this flock. You must be like shepherds to the church of God. This is the church that God bought with his own death.

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Holy Orders

The sacrament of holy orders is given to individuals who are willing to serve as a bishop, priest, or deacon. I like to think of it as the Godly version of marriage, so instead of marrying your partner, in Holy Orders, you marry the Church and are devoted to serving God, and His people. 

There are different types of leadership in this sacrament, and three ranks of clergy that have different responsibilities in the Church.

There are a few kinds of bishops in the Catholic Church as a whole; but usually the bishop cares for a diocese and appoints, ordains, and disciplines priests and deacons. 

 

Priests can serve as a religious priest or as a diocesan priest. A religious priest works in a wide range of different ministries, like working for the poor or homeless, or teaching in particular places around the world. A diocesan priest is someone you would see at Mass. They serve and lead a particular church that is part of a diocese. Priests have the responsibility of teaching, providing the sacraments, and governing the church in word and deed. 

The priesthood is vocation, a full-time job. Once someone is ordained a priest, they are a priest forever. 

Deacons assist the bishops. Deacons can preach, witness the sacrament of matrimony, and administer baptism; however, they cannot hear confessions, consecrate the Eucharist, or anoint the sick. Deacons are allowed to be married and have a family. 

The ordination of the priesthood was founded way back in Exodus with Moses and his brother Aaron, which became the Levitical Priesthood.

The priesthood in the New Testament is very different from the priesthood in the Old Testament. The priesthood today share in the linage of the original disciples' successors. Jesus Christ commissions them to fulfil specific responsibilities within the church.

James 5:14-15

If one of you is sick, he should call the church’s elders. The elders should pour oil on him in the name of the Lord and pray for him. And the prayer that is said with faith will make the sick person well. The Lord will heal him. And if he has sinned, God will forgive him.

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Anointing of the Sick

The anointing of the sick, along with the sacrament of reconciliation are two sacraments of healing in the Catholic Church. In the anointing of the sick, the priest gives blessings and prayers those who are sick or dying. This is the 7th and sometimes the last sacrament given in the Catholic Church, Usually this sacrament is given at the end of someone’s life, although not all the time.

 

The anointing of the sick can be given to people who have a long-term illness, going to have surgery or is old in age. It doesn't matter how old you are. You are always welcomed to receive this sacrament if you need it. The sacrament of the sick can be given in a church, home or hospital and it gives us comfort, healing and support. 

Many times it can combine the sacrament of reconciliation in it; which can heal the soul, especially if someone is about to meet Jesus. The Eucharist is also a big part of the anointing of the sick, especially for someone receiving the last rites. Those individuals who are dying can go through confession and they receive the Eucharist. In this time receiving the Eucharist for the last time is called "Viaticum", which means food for the journey. 


Throughout the Gospels we see miracles of Christ healing the sick through the power of His word. Jesus heals our sickness and sin, so that we can be made new in Christ. In this sacrament, Jesus comes spiritually to the person who is sick, and comforts them in their sufferings. Jesus connects the person's suffering to His own suffering, and He gives peace and strength to overcome the scariness of being sick.  

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