A sacrament is a sacred and visible sign that is instituted by Jesus to give us grace. Christ was present at the inception of all of the sacraments, which He instituted 2,000 years ago. Christ is also present every time each sacrament is celebrated. The Catholic Church has all of the seven sacraments instituted by Christ, which include Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Reconciliation, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders and Matrimony. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains that “the seven sacraments touch all the stages and all-important moments of the Christian life” (CCC 1210).
Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit, and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as children of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission: Baptism is a sacrament of regeneration through water in the word." (Catechism 1213) Through baptism, we become part of the royal, priestly people of God, called to holy lives of prayer and service.
Baptism marks the beginning of a child’s participation in the sacramental life of the church. It is a moment where parents make the promise to raise their child in the Catholic faith and continue to give example by their own lives of faith.
The baptismal process aims to help parents prepare for their vocation as primary teachers of the faith. Supported by the involvement of the godparents and our Catholic community, the parents will continue to grow in their understanding of the faith and application of it in their own homes as their family grows.
The Sacrament of Reconciliation is the gift of God’s endless mercy. Not only does it free us from our sins but it also challenges us to have the same kind of compassion and forgiveness for those who sin against us. The sacrament “washes us clean,” and renews us in Christ.
First Holy Communion
As the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us "The sacraments of Christian initiation — Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist – lay the foundations of every Christian life. The sharing in the divine nature given to men through the grace of Christ bears a certain likeness to the origin, development, and nourishing of natural life. The faithful are born anew by Baptism, strengthened by the sacrament of Confirmation, and receive in the Eucharist the food of eternal life. By means of these sacraments of Christian initiation, they thus receive in increasing measure the treasures of the divine life and advance toward the perfection of charity."
First Communion is traditionally also a festive occasion for families of the First Communicant. Traditions surrounding First Communion usually include large family gatherings and parties to celebrate the event. Special clothing is usually worn. The clothing is often white to symbolize purity. Girls often wear fancy dresses and a veil attached to a headdress, as well as white gloves (long or short). In other communities, girls commonly wear dresses passed down to them from sisters or mothers, or even simply their school uniforms plus the veiled headdress and gloves.
For Catholics, the Sacrament of Marriage, or Holy Matrimony, is a public sign that one gives oneself totally to this other person. It is also a public statement about God: the loving union of husband and wife speaks of family values and God's values.
Confirmation is a common event in the Roman Catholic Church where a baby is also baptized. It allows the person who has undergone baptism to confirm the vows made on their behalf during baptism. It also serves as a symbol of full membership of the church
Anointing of the Sick
The anointing of the sick is administered to bring spiritual and even physical strength during an illness, especially near the time of death. It is most likely one of the last sacraments one will receive. A sacrament is an outward sign established by Jesus Christ to confer inward grace. In more basic terms, it is a rite that is performed to convey God’s grace to the recipient, through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA)
The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) is a process developed by the Catholic Church for prospective converts to Catholicism who are above the age of infant baptism. Candidates are gradually introduced to aspects of Catholic beliefs and practices.