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THE SACRAMENTS

Sonia Noble looks what the Sacraments are and how they can help us.

The Sacraments are ways that God shares His divine life of grace with us throughout our lives. They help us to remain holy, to build up the Church and worship God. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that, “The seven Sacraments touch all the stages and all the important moments of Christian life: they give birth and increase healing and mission to the Christian's life of faith.” (CCC 1210) They are not one-off events but the grace that they give us is reflected in our daily lives. The Holy Spirit that we receive in Baptism and Confirmation is the very life of God within us, helping us to be good and kind to others. A priest lives out his priesthood daily by drawing on the grace of his ordination and a married couple need the special grace of the Sacrament to be loving and forgiving. 
There are seven sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance, Anointing of the Sick, Marriage and Holy Orders.

BAPTISM

In Baptism we receive new life in Christ and we are given a new birth in the Holy Spirit. God's saving grace, His very presence, enters into the human soul. The person celebrating the Sacrament (usually a priest or deacon) says, “I baptize you in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” while pouring water over the head of the person receiving the Sacrament or immersing them in water. For Catholics, Baptism is the Sacrament of salvation and the door to all the other Sacraments.

CONFIRMATION

Confirmation seals our life of faith in Jesus and provides a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit. This helps the Confirmed Catholic to be a witness to Christ and lead a mature Christian life. The Rite of Confirmation involves the anointing with Chrism (holy oil), the laying on of hands, and the words, “Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit.” St Ambrose said about Confirmation, “Remember, then, that you received a spiritual seal, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of knowledge and reverence, the spirit of holy fear. Keep safe what you received. God the Father sealed you, Christ the Lord strengthened you and sent the Spirit into your hearts as the pledge of what is to come.”

BAPTISM

In Baptism we receive new life in Christ and we are given a new birth in the Holy Spirit. God's saving grace, His very presence, enters into the human soul. The person celebrating the Sacrament (usually a priest or deacon) says, “I baptize you in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” while pouring water over the head of the person receiving the Sacrament or immersing them in water. For Catholics, Baptism is the Sacrament of salvation and the door to all the other Sacraments.

THE EUCHARIST

The Eucharist (or Holy Communion) was instituted by Christ at the Last Supper. Jesus, Himself, is really present in the Blessed Sacrament, and He comes to us to nourish our life of faith. Jesus said, “Truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink.” (John 6:53-55) That is why we honour and adore Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

PENANCE

Jesus gave the Church the power to forgive sins. When Catholics confess their sins to a priest, in the spirit of true repentance, they receive forgiveness from God. The priest acts as a visible representative of Christ who forgives us. He also represents the Church, the people of God, who have been offended by our sins. This sacrament is celebrated to renew the life of grace that began in our Baptism and reconciles us to God.

ANOINTING OF THE SICK

This Sacrament offers the comfort of God's grace and healing power to those who are seriously ill. It is conferred by a priest who anoints the sick person on the forehead and hands with blessed oil as he says, “Through this holy anointing may the Lord in his love and mercy help you with the grace of the Holy Spirit. May the Lord who frees you from sin, save you and raise you up.” When the Sacrament is conferred on those who are very ill and close to death it completes the moments of Holy Anointing that a Christian receives throughout their life.

MARRIAGE

The Sacrament of Marriage joins a man and a woman together in a life-long covenant of self-giving love that is open to procreation and the gift of children, the fruit of that love. When the Sacrament is celebrated in the Catholic Church, the husband and wife promise to live together in matrimony as defined by the Church. When they make their vows to each other before God in the Church the Sacrament confers on the couple a special grace to help them to be faithful to their promises.

HOLY ORDERS

The Sacrament of Holy Orders allows Christ mission to continue throughout the world. Only Bishops, the successors of the Apostles, can ordain men to be Bishops, Priests, or Deacons. It is conferred through the laying on of hands and prayer. Through Holy Orders, these men are given the grace to live out their lives in service to the Church and to God's people.

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