Sacraments – Introduction

A sacrament is a Christian rite that is recognised as being significant as both a symbol of the reality of God and a channel for God’s grace. They are also ceremonies of a journey and relationship with God, which help us achieve salvation.

There are seven sacraments divided into three groups:

  • Sacraments of initiation – Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist. These are the basis of the vocation of all Christ’s disciples, a vocation to holiness and to the mission of evangelizing the world. They confer the graces needed for the life according to the Spirit during this life as pilgrims on the journey towards our eternal home (CCC 1533).
  • Sacraments of healing – Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick. In addressing the challenges and tensions of life, Jesus Christ, physician of our souls and bodies, offers us healing and forgiveness, just he offered it to those on the roads of Palestine. In the power of the Holy Spirit, the Church offers his work of healing and salvation through the sacraments of healing (CCC  1421)
  • Sacraments of service – Matrimony and Holy Orders. These are so called because they are directed towards the salvation of others; if they contribute as well to personal salvation, it is through service to others that they do so. They confer a particular mission in the Church and serve to build up the People of God (CCC 1534).

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 1131), a sacrament is a visible sign of invisible grace, but the visible sign is not just pointing to an invisible grace: the invisible grace is actually present and effective in and through the sign. Each sacrament has been directly instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church using realities of this creation (water, bread, oil, etc) and putting them at the service of realities beyond this creation. 

Sacraments do not exist, as an old theological saying says, because God needs them, but because human beings need them. They coincide with our way of experience and knowledge:  „What we have heard, what we have seen with our own eyes, what we have watched and touched with our own hands” (1 John 1, 1) as the eye-witnesses of the Early Church taught. Yet even they still needed faith to believe, as the disciple, `doubting´ Thomas, soon realized (John 20,28). 

Over the course of time the Church has found the term `sacrament´ useful, even essential, as a way of speaking about this aspect of faith. The life God wishes to share with his people must reach them through their seeing and hearing, smelling, tasting and touching. If it is to reach human beings, then this message about “the fellowship with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1,3) must be accessible in a way that human beings can understand, receive and use. 

In order to ensure the correct preparation and understand the process before receiving any of the sacraments in St Hilda’s parish, please follow the guidance below:

Baptism – please request a copy of the Baptism booklet and complete the application form. A chat with Fr Keogh will also help you understand the process.

Eucharist (First Communion)the preparation programme is parish-based and normally runs from November to May. Currently the programme is supported by the team at Madonna House.

Reconciliation (Confession)these are held on the first Saturday of each month at St Hilda’s from 10.30 am to 11.30 am, and on request before Mass at English Marytrs.

Confirmation – please contact Fr Keogh for further details.

Matrimony – please contact Fr Keogh at least 12 months before any other arrangements are made.

Anointing of the Sickplease call Fr Keogh. For communion at home to the sick, please contact our Minister of Communion, Margaret Young.

Holy Orders – please contact Fr Keogh and he will introduce you to the right team.

Funerals – although not a sacrament, prayer vigils and funeral services are an important part of the Catholic journey to the next life. Please contact Fr Keogh to discuss or arrange for your funeral director to meet with him.

Please click the following link for more details on organ or choir accompaniment for marriage or funeral services

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