In the sacrament of BAPTISM we begin to share in the life of God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Baptism also marks our entry into the family of the Church, so we like to celebrate it on a Sunday at the parish Mass, when the community is present to welcome and pray for the child and its parents. That is the preferred option, but there may be good reasons to have it at another time, normally on a Sunday afternoon.
Parents, who have decided to have their child baptised, are invited to contact Canon Kristian or one of the Deacons, who will explain what the Church requires of them – choosing godparents, for example – and discuss a time and date with them.
Children who have reached the age of seven or eight are ready for their FIRST HOLY COMMUNION. The Eucharist is food for the journey which began at Baptism. Jesus feeds us with the bread of life, which is his body.
In our parish we normally celebrate First Communion in June, on or about the feast of Corpus Christi. The course of preparation begins in October the preceding year, and consists of one session a month on a Saturday, led by the catechists and parents.
The children are prepared for their first RECONCILIATION (CONFESSION) as part of the programme.
Christians are sometimes called ‘followers of the Way, the way that Jesus has made clear for us. CONFIRMATION is about how important young people are to Jesus and to the Church: they are ON the Way and certainly not in the way. In our parish we invite the Bishop to celebrate Confirmation with us on alternate years.
Young Catholics who are in year 8 at at school or college (or older) are invited to offer themselves for Confirmation. Notice of the preparation programme is given during the summer of the preceding year.
ANOINTING OF THE SICK (SACRAMENT OF HEALING)
“Jesus has come to heal the whole person, soul and body … His preferential love for the sick has not ceased over the centuries … He makes his disciples share in his ministry of healing and compassion …
The first grace of this sacrament is strengthening, peace and courage … a gift of the Holy Spirit … to lead the sick to healing of the soul, but also of the body, if it is God’s will.
By the grace of this sacrament, the sick are consecrated … so that suffering becomes a sharing in the saving work of Jesus.
By celebrating this sacrament, the Church intercedes for the sick…and they in their turn, contribute to the holiness of the Church and to the good of all people, for whom the Church suffers and offers herself through Jesus to God the Father.”
from the Catechism of the Catholic Church
THE SACRAMENT OF RECONCILIATION OR CONFESSION
It’s relatively simple to change one’s eating habits, or even to give up on smoking, but if you want to make changes on the mental and emotional level you have to dig a bit deeper. If you don’t detox and dejunk your ideas and attitudes, your old habits are waiting round the corner. They just know you’ll be back to them as soon as Lent is over.
It’s strange that going to the gym or exercise is considered good for you, while taking time to understand your own ideas and feelings is considered self-indulgent. People who think they’re just fine, and lack all self-knowledge, are usually taking out their failings on the people around them.
You can’t detox your mind until you identify exactly what it is that is bad for you. Some of what has happened in the past year was good and no doubt you’d like more of it. Some of it was certainly bad and you’d obviously like less of that. Some of it was beyond your control but maybe your own attitude made it worse. And maybe a lot of it was self-inflicted.
- Plan ahead for some silent time by yourself: as long as a couple of hours, if you can.
- Be aware that you are not alone: you are in the presence of God. He is your Father and he is looking on you with great, warm love. Ask him to help you.
- Start with the good stuff first. Sit back and ask yourself what have been the highlights of last year. When were you happiest? When did you feel most alive? What are the achievements of which you are most proud? This exercise, which concentrates on happiness, creates a sense of gratitude to God, and also a map of your own happiness which you can follow after Easter.
- Now look at what went wrong during the last year. What didn’t you achieve? What plans came to nothing? When have you failed to love, or been selfish? Have you made some mistake in your relationships? Who have you hurt? Do you understand why?
- There are two things we all have to work on if we are to free ourselves emotionally and build a better future. It’s really hard, but we need to work on letting go of two emotions especially: resentment and guilt.
- It is worth taking conscious time to forgive others for any hurt they have done to you, even if it still hurts – and to forgive yourself for the mistakes you made and the ways in which you hurt others. Working on forgiveness is vital to free you from the past. Change is much harder without it.
Don’t worry if you can’t do it straight away. God sees your heart, and your desire to forgive already begins to set you free.
- Because you are unable to make progress all on your own, the next step is to ask God for healing and forgiveness. The actions and attitudes in your life which are wrong, your inability to forgive others and yourself – your sins, in other words – are like wounds you cannot heal by yourself. Bring them to the feet of Jesus crucified, and ask him to heal you.
- Because Jesus has given his Church the power to forgive sins in his name, it makes sense to share all this with the Church’s representative, the priest. Finding a priest who is available at all is difficult nowadays. Finding a priest in whom you can confide may be even more problematic! But if you can find one, do so, and ask for the sacrament of Confession (sometimes now called Reconciliation). Not because the priest is necessarily an expert in the human heart, or even a therapist, but because he can still pray for you, over you and with you. It’s a matter, really, of submitting yourself to the power of the Church, and in return receiving the assurance of forgiveness that you need, but can’t give to yourself.
- If you can’t find a priest, or the right priest, of course you can pray for forgiveness and healing on your own. Here is a suggested prayer (sometimes called an Act of Contrition):
Lord Jesus Christ, you are the Lamb of God. You take away the sins of the world.
Listen to my prayer. Forgive all my sins. May your peace take root in my heart,
and bring forth a harvest of love holiness and truth. Amen.