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2 Part II: Celebration of the
Christian Mysteries (Sacraments)
has given the Church the means to help us attain salvation by helping
to do God’s will here on earth. The Church is the main way that God’s
grace comes to us. The Church is God’s main presence in the world and it
is the main Sacrament – the mediator of God’s grace to our world. It is
the bride of Christ, his physical presence to the world. It is through
the physical presence of the Church that God gives us his seven
2.1 What is Grace
is simply God’s life in us. When we love God and do his will, then he
is present in us, in grace. Grace is a gift from God. When we go
we will be filled with grace. Only Jesus and Mary lived their
entire lives on earth full of grace. We sometimes are full of grace,
when we have been forgiven of all our sins. But then we go back to our usual habit and sin again. Jesus and Mary never sinned.
2.2 What are the
Church brings God’s grace to us mainly in the Seven Sacraments. Each of
these sacraments is a sign of God’s grace. They use ordinary, familiar, objects from the
physical world to allow us to receive the grace of God. We live in the
physical world, so these items from our physical world help us
understand what the
sacrament does for us. These sacraments were created by Jesus. A simple
definition of a sacrament is as follows:
sacrament is an outward sign instituted by Christ to give grace.
outward sign is a physical sign of the action of the sacrament. The
is a gift from God to
help us live according to his will and the
grace of each sacrament helps us in different ways. Sacraments
use these ordinary, familiar things to give us these mysteries of
List of Sacraments
There are Seven Sacraments given to the Church by our Lord. They are as
Three sacraments can only be received once: Baptism, Confirmation and
sacraments are divided into three groups. The Sacraments of Initiation
are Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Eucharist. Adults
receive all of these at one time, but a baby only receives Baptism. The
Sacraments of Healing
are Reconciliation and Anointing of
the Sick. The Sacraments
of Vocation are Matrimony and Holy Orders.
as our physical lives are marked by many things such as birth, sickness
and death, eating, adulthood, marriage and work, so the Sacraments mark
our lives in God.
1. Baptism is rebirth
2. Holy Eucharist is our spiritual food. We are
eating the bread of eternal life
3. Confirmation marks our adulthood in the Kingdom
4. Penance is our healing when we are in sin, the
sickness of the spirit
5. Holy Orders or Matrimony are our life’s work
6. Anointing is healing, but also aids us at the
time of our death.
we can see that God, our heavenly Father, has given us the gifts of the sacraments to help us
in our spiritual journey, just like he has provided for our physical
needs to help us on our physical journey.
The following sections will discuss each sacrament in more detail.
brings us into the Church, the Kingdom of God. We are reborn as an
adopted child of God! You can only receive Baptism once (“we
believe in one Baptism”) and we only need
first sign of this sacrament is water. What do we use water for? Water
is a sign of life: we can’t live without water. Water is used to
clean. Water can destroy like it did in the flood at the time of Noah
and when the Israelites passed through the Red Sea. Jesus said that you
needed to be reborn by water and the Spirit. The
water destroys the death of original
sin (the sin of Adam and Eve) and all other sins as well. We are then restored to complete friendship with God.
The second sign is
the words of the sacrament as given by our Lord. Usually, these are spoken by a priest or deacon:
baptize you in the name of the Father,
And of the Son,
And of the Holy Spirit”
We become adopted children of God and
are set on the road to heaven.
The grace we receive forgives all our
other sins and helps us to live God’s will for all of our life.
gives us strength to proclaim our faith in God, even when it is hard to
do. The apostles
confirmed at Pentecost and they went out and
converted the known world. You can only receive Confirmation once, as you only receive
Baptism once. Once you have been strengthened by the sacrament,
there is no need to receive it again. God’s sacrament does what it
claims to do.
The bishop is the usual minister of this sacrament.
The first sign of the sacrament is anointing with
oil and the laying on of hands (this means a bishop puts his hands on
your head). Oil is used to anoint kings and to strengthen wrestlers and
other athletes. The bishop says the following words of the sacrament:
sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit”
The grace we receive
helps us endure the rejection of others toward us, toward our
toward God and helps us to actively spread God’s faith to others.
us with this,
Holy Spirit gives us the following seven gifts:
manage our human affairs according to God's truth; to love the things
over those of the earth
realize the proper path or course of action to follow and
dangers to avoid
understand our faith and its meaning to our life
determine God’s will for us
do what is right and avoid evil even in the face of difficulty
revere and worship God, to respect to others and to joyfully do God’s
|Fear of the Lord
(Wonder and Awe)
love God so much that we fear losing him, to understand that God is so
much greater than us, to be in awe of God
2.5 Holy Eucharist (Holy Communion)
Eucharist is the Bread of Life, as Jesus promised (John 6). We can
Communion (another word for Holy Eucharist) every day at mass, as long
as we are not in a state of serious sin (See What
is Sin). Holy
Communion is the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ. All of
Jesus is really made present in the appearance of bread and all of Jesus is made present in the wine.
The signs of the
sacrament are the bread and wine and the priest saying the following words:
is my body
This is my blood, do this in
memory of me
food is food indeed. Jesus became one of us to save us and he continues
to give us himself in this heavenly banquet! The grace we receive is to
strengthen us on a daily basis to do God’s will. We strive to become
what we eat, that is, like Jesus! This is one reason it is so important to go to mass on Sunday!
The Holy Eucharist is
celebrated in the Holy Mass, the Divine Liturgy. The mass is very old,
from the time of the Apostles.
Its parts have remained the same since
then, though the words change from time to time and the language we use
is different. In mass, to prepare us for receiving the Holy Eucharist,
for forgiveness of sin, are reminded of the work of salvation by
reading from the Bible,
the Lord’s words from the Last Supper
and receive Jesus in Holy Communion. (see the later section The
Mass for more about the mass).
2.6 Penance (Confession, Reconciliation)This Sacrament is called Penance or Confession or the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The Sacrament
is for the forgiveness of our sins (See What
Since we are
human, we often fail to do God’s will in small things and in big
things. Sometimes we turn so far away from God, that we may start to
reject him. Because Jesus was one of us, he knew that temptations would
cause us to fail, but in his great love and mercy, he wants us to be
forgiven and to turn back to him (to be reconciled). Of course, we
should be completely sorry for our sins, but in the Sacrament of
Reconciliation, when we are even a little sorry for our sins, God
forgives us and restores our friendship.
The signs of the sacrament are the penitent confessing their sins
to the priest and the priest making the sign of the cross while saying
absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and
of the Holy Spirit”
are forgiven of our sins, even the worst ones! Every time we go to
confession, ours sins are forgiven, if we are sorry for our sins and we
really want to stop sinning. The grace we receive helps us to stop repeating our sins. Jesus told the apostles,
"Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose
sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain, they are
retained." John 20:22-23
2.7 Anointing of the
of the Sick helps to bring spiritual and physical healing to us. Spiritual
healing includes the
forgiveness of sins but also healing of other spiritual hurts that occur during illness, such as
sadness and loss or decrease of faith.
The sign of
the sacrament is the priest anointing with oil and the silent laying on his of hands.
The graces of this sacrament are physical and spiritual strengthening
and peace and courage to overcome the difficulties that go with the
condition of serious illness or frailty of old age. This sacrament is
often accompanied by the sacraments of Penance and the reception of
Holy Communion. Jesus healed many people in the Gospels and sent the
apostles forth, to convert and to heal.
Matrimony is the sacrament of blessing for marriage. Jesus
confirmed this sacrament by reminding us:
you not read that from the beginning the Creator 'made them male and
said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be
joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'?
So they are no longer two, but one
flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must
separate.” Matt 19:4-6
The "one flesh" indicates that like the Trinity makes up one God,
the couple's love for one another should be like the love in the
sign of this sacrament is the couple making vows to each other and
their willingness to be open to God, to each other and to children.
The vows are made before a deacon or priest of the Church (which is the
bride of Christ). Marriage is hard. Doing anything for a just a little
determination. To have a marriage last a lifetime takes the grace of
God. The sacrament of Marriage imparts such grace. When combined with
prayer and the other sacraments the grace of this sacrament is awesome.
The graces are meant to perfect the couple’s love for each other, their
children and above all, of God. The graces help them to help one
another attain holiness in their married life and in welcoming and
educating their children.
2.9 Holy Orders
sacrament is how Jesus entrusted his mission to his apostles
continues to be exercised in the Church until the end of time. Jesus
sent the apostles to convert and to heal and he told them at the last
supper to "do this in memory of me." Deacons,
priests and bishops all receive the Sacrament of Holy Orders.
of Holy Orders is the imposition of the Bishop’s hands on the head of
the one to be ordained and the bishops recitation of the prayers appropriate to
the degree of ordination, either deacon, priest, or bishop. Deacons preach
the Gospel and do service for the Church. In addition, priests consecrate during
mass and perform the Sacraments of Healing. Bishops also confirm and
ordain. The laying on of
hands symbolizes apostolic succession. As in marriage, committing to a
lifetime of service is a hard.
Thus the graces imparted by this
sacrament strengthens the recipient to do the ministry of Christ, to
conform their lives with Christ, to preach the Gospel, to act as pastor
and to have love for all, especially for the poor, the sick and the
2.10 The Holy Mass
2.10.1 Seasons of the Liturgical Year
the Holy Mass, we participate and assist in Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross at
Calvary. We participate in the Holy
as Jesus commanded us to
do (Do this in memory of me).
celebrates salvation, the life of the Lord and the teaching of the Lord
through a yearly calendar. The prayers and readings during the mass
reflect the season of the calendar. The Church celebrates the following
seasons: The colors in the priest's clothes (vestments) and the linen
on the altar change based on the season. This liturgical year
represents the story of our salvation in the readings and other prayers
during the mass, all of which help us conform our life to Christ, to
become like him.
We anticipate and prepare for Jesus, both for his coming at Christmas
and also the end of the world (“He
will judge the living and the
dead”). We wear purple as a sign of penance and anticipation.
We celebrate the birth (Nativity)
of the Lord, the Holy Family, the
Solemnity of Mary, the Epiphany (the Wise Men come) and The Baptism of
the Lord. We wear white as a sign of holiness and glory.
3. Ordinary Time.
Before Lent and after Pentecost, we celebrate Ordinary time. The Life
of Christ and his teachings are followed during this time. We wear
green as a sign of continuing life.
This is the season leading up to the death
the Lord. We use this time to repent of our sins and to grow in
holiness. We give to the poor and we fast from various things to remind
us of the season and of Jesus' sacrifice for us. Again we wear purple as a sign of penance.
We celebrate the last few days of Jesus’ life. Holy Thursday (the Last
Supper - white), Good Friday (Jesus suffers
and dies on the cross -
red), and the Easter Vigil (Jesus rises from the dead - white).
The glorious season – the Lord rises
from the dead, he shows us that we
can attain eternal life. We wear white as a sign of holiness and glory.
During this season, we celebrate the Ascension of Jesus into heaven. This season lasts until Pentecost, about 50 days.
The Lord sends the Holy Spirit to us to guide the Church. We wear red
as a sign of the fire of the Holy Spirit. After this, we resume
8. Ordinary Time. After
Pentecost we again celebrate ordinary time (again, wearing green) until
the year ends with the Feast of Christ the King (white).
are also various Holy Days during the year. On these days, we are
called to assist at mass just like it is a Sunday. These are: Feast of
the Immaculate Conception (Dec 8), Christmas (Dec 25), Solemnity of
Mary (Jan 1), Feast of the Ascension, Feast of the Assumption (Aug 15), and All
Saints Day (Nov 1).
2.10.2 Preparation for MassIn
preparation for mass, we should always be prayerful and full of
anticipation for meeting Jesus. We find Jesus in the mass in three
ways. As we gather in our assembly, Jesus is present (as he promised),
then we find him present in his word to us and finally and specially,
we find him truly present in the Eucharist. We don't "go to mass", we
assist at mass. We participate, with the priest and the assembly, in
Jesus' perfect sacrifice to his Father. A very good way to prepare for
mass is to read the readings before mass, either at home or at the
church by arriving early.
2.10.3 Introductory RitesOn
Sundays, we often start mass with an Entrance Hymn (song). The priest
and servers along with others may process into the church during this
always begin the mass by making the Sign
of the Cross. This reminds us of our Baptism and our Trinitarian God.
ask for the Lord’s forgiveness from our everyday failures to be good.
We say the Confiteor ("I confess"). This prepares us to receive him later in Holy Communion. The Kyrie
(Lord have mercy) ends the penitential rite.
is the song of the angels ("Glory to God in the Highest, and peace to
those on whom his favor rests" Luke 2:14). It
is not said during Advent
2.10.4 Liturgy of the WordThe Word of God is proclaimed to us (read with authority). Remember that the “Word”
Jesus. So we listen to his words for us and in this manner receive him. The readings for Sunday mass
change on a three year cycle. The first year the Gospel is from
Matthew, the next year from Mark and the third from Luke. The Gospel of
John is always read during Easter season, fills in on the year that
Mark is read (Mark is a short Gospel) and on special
occasions. Daily mass readings use a two year cycle and there is no second reading.
18.104.22.168 First ReadingThis
reading is usually from the Old
but sometimes it is from the
Testament. During Easter
time, it is from the Acts of the Apostles.
Occasionally, it is from the Book of Revelation. It usually shows how
today's Gospel teaching of Jesus has its roots in the Old Testament.
22.214.171.124 Responsorial Psalm
Psalms are songs of praise to God. They are from the Old Testament and
usually relate to the first reading and the Gospel. Many of them were
written by King David.
This reading is usually from one of the Letters (Epistles) in the New
Testament, most often of Paul,
but also from Peter, John, James or Jude. On daily masses, there is no second reading.
is from the New
from one of the Four Gospels by either
Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. Here we follow the life of Jesus and his
teachings. These Gospels give us the very words that Jesus said! We stand for this reading.
priest or deacon will teach us about the meaning of the readings. This
is to help us lead a life according to the will of God.
126.96.36.199 Profession of Faith
On Sundays we say the Nicene
that we discussed in Part I. We
recite the creed together as one Church and renew our faith each Sunday.
188.8.131.52 Prayer of
people of God raise their prayers of petition to God. Usually the
deacon or a lector will read these and the people respond, “Lord hear
our prayer” or something similar. We pray for the pope, our bishops and
priests, for our government, for the sick and for the dead, among other
Liturgy of the Eucharist
second part of the mass is the Liturgy of the Eucharist. In this part
we do that which Jesus commanded: “Do this in
memory of me.”
of the Gifts (Offertory)The
people bring forward the bread and wine for the sacrifice. This bread
and wine, normal stuff, will be changed into the body and blood, soul
and divinity of
Jesus. We hope that we ourselves are changed from normal to holy
people. The bread can be thought of as the gift of our lives, our
blessings. The wine can be thought of as the cup of our sufferings, as
it becomes the cup of Jesus’ suffering. After the priest asks God to
bless these gifts, he washes his hands and asks God to forgive his sins.
184.108.40.206 Eucharistic PrayerThe
word Eucharist means
thanksgiving. The prayer begins with "The Lord be with you." and the
preface follows. The preface changes based on the season, feast days
so forth. The many prefaces enriching the mass are intended to develop
in different ways the theme of thanksgiving in the Eucharistic prayer
and bring out more clearly the different parts of the mystery of
Holy, Holy, Holy (Sanctus)
join with the angels and saints in heaven
(Isa 6:3) giving praise to
God for the great gift of his Son and of the Holy Eucharist which we are getting ready
to celebrate. "Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of power and might." All the Communion
of Saints is giving praise together, on
heaven and earth.
220.127.116.11 Eucharistic Prayer (I, II, III or IV)
whole Eucharistic prayer is a prayer of praise and thanksgiving to God
the Father, but especially this first part. He created us, he gave us
his Son to save us, he gave us
the Church and the Holy Spirit to guide us and he gave us his Son in the
Eucharist. The priest has four options for this prayer.
part of the Eucharistic Prayer is when the bread and wine are actually
changed into the body and blood, soul and divinity of Jesus even though
they still look like bread and wine. (This is called
priest says the words of the Sacrament
of Holy Eucharist:
this all of you and eat it,
This is my Body
Take this all of you and drink
For this is the chalice of my
The blood of the new and eternal
Which will be poured out for you
and for many
For the forgiveness of sins.
Do this in memory of me.
18.104.22.168 Memorial Acclamation
the Consecration, the people remember what Christ has done by saying together one of the acclamations, such as "Dying you destroyed our death, rising your restored our life, Lord Jesus, come in glory!" The Eucharistic Prayer then asks that this Sacrifice make
the whole Church holy, including us and that it join us together with the
Communion of Saints in heaven
and the souls in purgatory.
concluded with the great prayer:
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
all glory and honor is yours,
forever and ever
“him” of course is our Lord, Jesus Christ. It is because of him that we
have this great Sacrifice. We are joined with the Lord in every way in
praising the Father. And we all give our assent to this by saying:
Lord's Prayer was given to us by Jesus and thus is very fitting to say
right after the Eucharistic Prayer. In this prayer, the people join
their voices to pray for the coming of God’s kingdom and to ask God to
provide for our needs, forgive our sins, and bring us to the joy
See the Lord's
a discussion about this prayer.
The priest breaks the consecrated bread as the people sing the Lamb of
God or “Agnus Dei.” John the Baptist proclaimed Jesus as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of
the world” (John 1:29).
The action of breaking the bread recalls the actions of Jesus at the
Last Supper, when he broke the bread before giving it to his disciples.
One of the earliest names for the Eucharistic celebration is the
breaking of the bread.
Before receiving Communion, the celebrant and the people acknowledge
that we are unworthy to receive so great a gift by saying:
I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and my soul shall
celebrant receives Communion first and then the people come forward.
Those who receive Communion should be well prepared to receive so great
a gift, the very body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus! They should fast (except for medicines) for one hour before
receiving the Eucharist and be unaware of having committed
receiving, we say, “AMEN” to confirm that we believe
we have received our Lord! Remember what St. Augustine has said, “when we eat any other kind of food that
food becomes us, but when we eat the Body and Blood of Christ we become
what we eat!” What we become is like the Lord.
The priest blesses the people and dismisses them with the Sign
of the Cross. We
are then called to go forth and serve the Lord.
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