Sacraments

The Book of Common Prayer is the book of worship for the Episcopal Church. It defines a sacrament as an outward and visible sign of an inward abiding grace. Sacraments are rituals which use tangible symbols such as water and bread and wine to mark special moments of God’s work in our lives. The seven sacraments, are; Holy Baptism, the Holy Eucharist, Confirmation, Healing, Holy Matrimony, Reconciliation of a Penitent and Ordination.

Holy Baptism

Holy Baptism is the rite of full initiation into the Church. The outward and visible sign of Baptism is water which is both a means of being made clean and a source of life itself. Water is either poured on the candidate’s head or the candidate is immersed in a pool or other body of water. In and through Baptism we are adopted as sons and daughters in the kingdom of God.

Baptism is administered in the context of the Sunday Eucharist. Candidates for baptism are infants and young children of members of the parish and older children and adults who desire to make a mature and public commitment to the Christian faith. Each candidate for Holy Baptism is generally sponsored by one or more baptized persons.   (Baptism Photo’s can be viewed here)

Holy Eucharist

In the last supper with the disciples, at the end of the meal, Jesus shared unleavened bread and passed a common cup. With the bread he said the words “this is my body given for you.” With the cup he said “this is my blood which is shed for you.” The bread and wine are thus the symbols of the Eucharist but at the same time they are more than symbols. We believe that by the grace of God Jesus is truly present to the faithful in the bread and wine. This sacred meal becomes the means by which we are brought together as the body of Christ.

The Holy Eucharist, or Holy Communion, is celebrated weekly as the principal service of worship in most Episcopal churches. In our tradition, communion is open to all who are baptized, regardless of age or denomination.

Confirmation

Confirmation is best understood as the completion of our baptism. It is a sacramental commitment to an on-going, intentional spiritual journey in response to one’s Baptismal call and is the rite of full adult membership in the Episcopal Church. Confirmation is administered by the bishop. The tangible sign of confirmation is the bishop’s laying on of hands which is accompanied by a prayer for the Holy Spirit to continue the good work already begun. Confirmation is open to young adults and adults who complete a confirmation or inquirer’s class. If you have already been confirmed and wish to renew your commitment, you can reaffirm your baptismal vows during the confirmation service instead.

Healing

Healing, also called unction, includes special prayers for the restoration of physical, spiritual and emotional well being. The outward and visible sign of unction is the laying on of hands and the application of blessed oil to the forehead.

When unction is administered near the time of death it is called extreme unction and has also been called last rites.

Holy Matrimony

Holy Matrimony is Christian marriage, in which the woman and man enter into a life-long union, make their vows before God and the Church, and receive the grace and blessing of God to help them fulfill their vows.

The outward and visible sign of the sacrament of Holy Matrimony is the couple themselves.  Weddings are not performed during Lent or Advent.

Reconciliation of a Penitent

Reconciliation of a penitent is more commonly known as confession. There are two forms of confession in the Episcopal Church. First, there is public confession, which is part of the Holy Eucharist and other services of worship. In public confession, we all pray together for the forgiveness of our sins which we may enumerate in the silence that is kept after the bidding.

Private, individual confession is also availabe in the Episcopal Church. There is no requirement for such a rite. What we tell people is that “all may, none must, some should.” For some people who are unusually burdened, the pronouncement of God’s forgiveness in the presence of a priest can be an important step in the process of healing.

Ordination

All people by virtue of their baptism are called to ministry in the church and the world. Some are called to special ministries in the church as deacons, priests and bishops. Deacons serve the church by reminding people of their baptismal call to serve. Priests lead congregations and are called to administer the Holy Eucharist. Bishops are overseers who have responsibility for a diocese, the smallest geographic unit of the Episcopal Church.

The sacramental ritual for empowering these persons for these ministries is ordination. Ordination is administered by bishops and the outward and visible sign is the laying on of hands (just as it is for confirmation).

 

 

The people of St. Catherine's seek to share in the love that Jesus Christ has for us and the world by welcoming, accepting, nurturing, and serving all people through the power of the Holy Spirit. We Welcome You!

Come and grow with us in understanding, gratitude, service, and peace as we all have something to learn about one another, our world, and God. We may not have all the answers, but we welcome all your questions.