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About Sacraments
You may have heard the word 'Sacraments' from your Catholic friends or from Christians for other denominations. Or you may heard the definition of Sacrament as "an outward sign of an inward Grace instituted by Jesus", a defnition by St Augustine the Bishop of Hippo who lived in the 4th Century.
During a lecture on Sacraments, a priest showed the class several t-shirts that were given to him by friends. Some of them given by parishioners who while on overseas tour, thought about this priest and brought him a T-shirt. Another T-shirt belonged to a dear priest friend of his who has moved on to be with God the Father. And also many others. All reminded him of the love these people have for him. To this priest all these are sacramentals.
God the Father makes use of many earthly things and our senses to help us, to remind us of His extravagant love for all of us. Every time you celebrate the sacrament, you are to be brought to this basic awareness of God's love for us. And that is why we want to Celebrate every sacraments.
"Sacraments are effective, symbolic actions that not only point to God's life but actually convey it to the members of the Church. These Christ-instituted, efficacious signs of grace bring about the divine life to which they point. If we receive them properly, they bear fruit in us." [ This is our Faith by Michael Francis Pennock ]
To really appreciate and understand the Sacraments, we need to refer to the Bible. The story of 2 disciples leaving Jerusalem on the road to Emmaeus is an excellent way to really understand the Sacraments. The story is taken from Luke 24:13-35. You may want to take some time to read through the story.
Every Sacrament has to be rooted in some sort of raw experience. As the 2 disciples were walking back to Emmaus after the crucifixion of Jesus, they felt dejected, felt betrayed, felt lost as the person whom they thought would free them from the Romans was crucified.
Every Sacrament is an encounter with God. The resurrected Jesus then walked up to the 2 disciples and asked them why they looked so dejected. And after hearing them, Jesus, gave explained the scriptures to them from Moses to the Prophets and how the Son of Man has to die.
Every Sacrament is a Celebration of God's love. After walking for several miles and approaching the town, the 2 disciples invited Jesus to stay with them. The celebration of God's presence was carried out when Jesus broke the bread. "And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight." Lk 24:30-31.
Every sacrament is a celebration within a community. Jesus celebrated at the breaking of the bread not with only 1 person but with 2 disciples. There will be no sacramental celebration if there is no community.
Every Sacrament is a lived experience. A lived experience is one in which we reflected on the raw experience that we have and brings meaning to it. The 2 disciples understood the reason for Jesus' death and resurrection and recognized Jesus at the breaking of the bread. Having reached Emmaus, they decided to return to Jerusalem and proclaimed to the other disciples. "So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together the eleven and those with them who were saying, "The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!" Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread." Lk 24:33-35. Note that the word "Lord" was used and not the name of "Jesus". The word Lord refers to the resurrected Jesus who was dead, risen and is alive even today and forever.
Every Sacrament enables the faithful to want to experience God's Love and be witnesses of God's love to others. Every time you relate to others with love, you are showing others God's love to others.

The Seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church
The Sacraments of Christian Initiation - Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist - lay the foundations of every Christian life. [ CCC 121 ]
The Sacrament of Baptism
Jesus at his baptism in the River Jordan was affirmed by God when "After all the people had been baptized and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, heaven was opened and the holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, 'You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.' " Lk 3:21-22.
Other bible verse : "Go, therefore, 12 and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." Mt 28:19-20
Tbrough Baptism, we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God. We are affirmed by God as Sons and daughters of our Loving Father.
Signs and Symbols : Water and pronouncing the invocation of the Most Holy Trinity; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit
Central values : new life;celebration of Christian community
The Sacrament of Confirmation
"Confirmation perfects Baptismal grace; it is the sacrament which gives the Holy Spirit in order to root us more deeply in the divine filiation, incoroporate us more firmly into Christ, strenghten our bond with the Church, associate us more closely with her mission, and hlep us bear witness to the Christian fiath in words accompanied by deeds." [ CCC 1316 ]
"Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent them Peter and John, who went down and prayed for them, that they might receive the holy Spirit, for it had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them and they received the holy Spirit." Acts 8:14-17
Signs and Symbols : Laying of Hands and anointing of the forehead with Chrism oil.
Central Values : Strenghth and growh; celebration of gifts.
The Celebration of the Eucharist
Catholics believe in the Real Presnce of the Lord Jesus in the bread and wine after the consecration by the priest at every mass. "At the Last supper, on the night he was betrayed, our Saviour instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice of his Body and Blood. This is did in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the ages until he should come again" [ CCC 1323 ]
'For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, "This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes. Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord.' 1 Cor 11:23-27
Signs and Symbols : Bread and wine
Central Values : Thanksgiving, ongoing nourishment, celebration of Unity
The Sacraments of Healing : Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick
The Sacrament of Reonciliation
Throughout our Christian lives, we may fall into Sins and moving away from God. We want to reconcile back to God and also be affirmed by God that our sins are forgiven too.
(Jesus) said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained." Jn 20:21-23
Signs and Symbols : Words spoken from a Contrite heart, words of absolution
Central Values : Forgiveness and reunion
The Sacrament of the Anoniting of the Sick
"They drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them." Mk 6:13
"Is anyone among you sick? 6 He should summon the presbyters of the church, and they should pray over him and anoint (him) with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up. If he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful." James 5:14-15
"The Anointing of the Sick is not a sacrament for those only who are at the point of death. Hence, as soon as anyone of the faithful begins to be in danger of death from sickness or old age, the fitting time for him to receive this sacrament has certainly arrived." [ CCC 1514 ]
Signs and Symbols : Oil
Central Values :physical, emotional and spiritual healing
The Sacraments of Service : Holy Orders and Matrimony.
The Sacrament of Holy Orders
"Holy Orders is the sacrament through which the mission entrusted by Christ to his apostles continues to be exercised in the Church until the end of time; Thus it is the sacrament of Apostolic Ministry." [ CCC 1536 ]
There are several verses in the New Testament that points to this sacrament.
"For this reason I left you in Crete so that you might set right what remains to be done and appoint presbyters in every town" Titus 1:5
"For this reason, I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands." 2 Tim 1:6
Signs and symbols : Laying of Hands by Bishop
Central Values : Service to the Community
The sacrament of Holy Matrimony
A good marriage is not simply a civil contract between 2 persons; rather, it is a holy covenant involving three persons. The couple is joined on their life's journy by Jesus Christ who promises to bless, sustain and rejoice in their union. [ This is our Faith by Michael Francis Pennock ]
Signs and symbols : rings, holding of hands
Central Values : Love and Family life

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