God knows that we cannot get close to him without his help. That’s why Jesus instituted the Sacraments. Through a Sacrament, God is with us in a very concrete way and gives us his grace, which is a share in his own life.
Our Church has seven sacraments, which can be divided into three groups:
- Sacraments of initiation bring you into the life of God: Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist.
- Sacraments of healing help when we are struggling in our relationship with God or when we need extra strength: Reconciliation (or Confession) and Anointing of the Sick.
- Sacraments at the service of communion: Marriage and Holy Orders.
We are born: we start a new life with Jesus, freed from sin, as members of the Church.
The Sacrament of Baptism for infants is usually celebrated during Sunday Mass or as a separate service after Mass. Adult Baptism often takes place at the Easter Vigil after a course in Christian Initiation.
We grow up: the Holy Spirit binds us to the Church in a special way and helps make us adult Christians.
The Bishop is the ordinary minister of Confirmation and children (usually of primary 4 age) are confirmed by the Bishop in joint parish celebrations in February. Preparation to receive the Sacrament is essential, and takes place in the Catholic school and in the parish. Adults are often confirmed after their Baptism by the priest at the Easter Vigil.
We are fed: Jesus offers us his own life, Body and Blood, as food. Unlike Baptism and Confirmation, the Eucharist can be received many times: weekly Communion at Sunday Mass is the rhythm of the Catholic Christian life.
Eucharist (or Communion) is the fulness of the Sacraments of Initiation. Preparation to receive the Sacrament is essential, and takes place in the Catholic school and in the parish. First Communion for children (usually of primary 4 age) takes place in May of the Easter season. Adults receive Communion for the first time after Baptism and Confirmation and usually at the Easter Vigil.
We are forgiven: God forgives our sins, for which we ask pardon. Reconciliation restores us to our baptismal state. Individual celebration of the Sacrament takes place at regular times, as advertised in the parish newsletters, and community celebrations (Penitential Services) take place in Advent and Lent.
Children receive the Sacrament after preparation in the Catholic school and the parish usually during Lent of primary 3.
Anointing of the Sick
We are healed: we are given strength, hope and comfort from God when faced with disease or death.
This is celebrated (usually once a year) during a special Mass for the Sick, and the sick people who are able attend church. Often this Sacrament is given before someone goes into hospital – please let your priest know if you would like to receive the Sacrament of the Sick. The Sacrament of the Sick is also given when the priest visits sick people in their homes or in hospital. In danger of death, the Sacrament of the Sick (often with Reconciliation and Communion) can be requested by contacting the priest.
We form a family: a man and a woman form an intimate union of love and life before God, and welcome children as gifts from God.
Engaged couples should speak to their priest before making any other wedding arrangements or setting a date. At least six months notice must be given, whether the wedding is to take place in the home parish or abroad, in order to enable marriage preparation to take place and to fulfil the requirements of Canon Law.
We are given leaders: God gives us men whom he himself has called to administer the Sacraments in his name.
The ministerial priesthood is essential for the whole Church, and so are other roles of service. If a man feels he is being called to serve as a priest he can speak to his priest or contact the Director of Vocations, Fr William Boyd (firstname.lastname@example.org), St Mary’s, Irvine.
The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) is not a Sacrament but rather the name of the process of preparation for adults to receive the Sacraments of Initiation. It involves meeting regularly (usually from Autumn until Easter) with the priest and other Catholics to learn about and experience Catholic Christian life and community. During Lent, there are special moments of prayer to be celebrated and the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist are often given at the Easter Vigil of the Resurrection of the Lord. If you wish to begin this process, please speak to your parish priest.