The church ritualises important moments in our lives through the seven sacraments. Sacraments are visible signs or symbols of Gods love and presence. They help to strengthen the Christian person's life so they can carry out the mission of Jesus to bring everyone closer to God. They fill Christians with the new life of Jesus in order to inspire and transform us. The seven commandments are Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Reconciliation, Anointing of the Sick, Marriage and Holy Orders. In different points of a Christian's life, we celebrate with prayer and ritual.
Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist are the sacraments of initiation.
You enter the Christian Community when you are baptised. You become a member of the Body of Christ and share the Church's mission. The person is either immersed in water or water is poured over their head. This signifies the new birth you have in Christ. The person dies in the water and is reborn in Christ, symbolising death and new birth.
The water cleanses the person of their sins. Baptism is for both adults and children and can only happen once in your life.
In Confirmation, the bishop uses chrism, a holy oil, to anoint the people that are being confirmed. The oil is used to consecrate the person to serve God and share in the mission of Christ. By the laying on of hands we are commissioned to continue the mission of Christ. God confirms the Holy Spirit we received on the day of our baptism. For children, confirmation is given when they are older and can understand the meaning of the sacrament. The child is then able to speak for itself and make its own commitment through the mission of Christ. Confirmation strengthens us to be able to personally declare our faith.
Eucharist is a special meal where we receive the body and blood of Christ as bread and wine. From this we share in the life of Jesus. Since we become one with Jesus we have to be friends with everyone like he was. This means that Jesus remains with us forever. We can receive Eucharist every time we attend a mass. First Communion is received at the age of seven because the child has reached the age of reason or discretion. A seven year old child can appreciate the love for us that Jesus showed in his life, death and resurrection.
Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick are the sacraments of healing.
In the sacrament of Reconciliation we receive pardon from God. We turn away from sin and turn towards God. It helps us to understand and appreciate God as a loving and forgiving father. In order for reconciliation to be effective you have to be sorry and try not to sin again. It is requires that you do something to make amends for your sins. Because God is always ready to forgive others our sins, we are then asked to forgive others and work towards peace. You can receive Reconciliation from the age of seven because that is the age of reason.
Anointing of the Sick
Anointing of the Sick is when a bishop or priest anoints a sick person with holy oil. For someone who is seriously sick or whose health is fragile this helps them become closer to God and realise what's important in life. The Church asks God to cure them. This sacrament helps the sick to remember by listening to the prayers that Jesus healed and suffered so they should place their suffering with him. They are also pardoned for their sins. This sacrament can be received more then once. A person that has a serious illness, is elderly or about to have a serious operation can receive this sacrament.
Marriage and Holy Orders are the sacraments of commitment.
Marriage is when two people give themselves to each other forever. They are married in a church knowing that their love comes from God and that they are complete in God. They try to live as God desires and bring up their children in Gods love and by their shared life that Gods love is faithful and fruitful. The couple exchange consent in the presence of a priest and witnesses.
Holy Orders is when bishops, priests and deacons are ordained ministers of the church to serve the Christian community as ministers of the gospel and the sacraments. The bishop places his hands on the candidates and prays that the Holy Spirit may give them the special gift of grace. The ordained priest acts in the place of Christ and in the name of the Church. You dedicate your life to God and his ways. It gives the priest more freedom to understand and learn more about God. To receive Holy Orders a man has to have been baptised.
The sacraments are an important part of the Catholic Liturgy. They give grace the most important moments of a person's life. They strengthen us to continue the mission of Jesus to draw everyone closer to God.