Roman Catholic theology enumerates seven sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation (Chrismation), Eucharist (Communion), Penance (Reconciliation, Confession), Matrimony (Marriage), Holy Orders (ordination to the diaconate, priesthood, or episcopate) and Anointing of the Sick (before the Second Vatican Council generally called Extreme Unction). The list of seven sacraments already given by the Second Council of Lyon (1274) and the Council of Florence (1439) was reaffirmed by the Council of Trent (1545–1563), which stated:
CANON I. – If any one saith, that the sacraments of the New Law were not all instituted by Jesus Christ, our Lord; or that they are more, or less, than seven, to wit, Baptism, Confirmation, the Eucharist, Penance, Extreme Unction, Order, and Matrimony; or even that any one of these seven is not truly and properly a sacrament; let him be anathema.
CANON IV. – If any one saith, that the sacraments of the New Law are not necessary unto salvation, but superfluous; and that, without them, or without the desire thereof, men obtain of God, through faith alone, the grace of justification; – though all (the sacraments) are not necessary for every individual; let him be anathema.
The seven sacraments of the Catholic church: Baptism, Confirmation, Matrimony, Eucharist, Penance, Holy Orders and the Anointing of the Sick
During the Middle Ages, sacramental records were in Latin. Even after the Reformation, many ecclesiastical leaders continued using this practice into the 20th century. On occasion, Protestant ministers followed the same practice. Since W was not part of the Latin alphabet, scribes only used it when dealing with names or places. In addition, names were modified to fit a “Latin mold”. For instance, the name Joseph would be rendered as Iosephus or Josephus.
The Catholic Church indicates that the sacraments are necessary for salvation, though not every sacrament is necessary for every individual. The Church applies this teaching even to the sacrament of baptism, the gateway to the other sacraments. It states that “Baptism is necessary for salvation for those to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed and who have had the possibility of asking for this sacrament.” But it adds: “God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments,” and accordingly, “since Christ died for the salvation of all, those can be saved without Baptism who die for the faith (Baptism of blood). Catechumens and all those who, even without knowing Christ and the Church, still (under the impulse of grace) sincerely seek God and strive to do his will can also be saved without Baptism (Baptism of desire). The Church in her liturgy entrusts children who die without Baptism to the mercy of God.”
In the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church, “the sacraments are efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us. The visible rites by which the sacraments are celebrated signify and make present the graces proper to each sacrament. They bear fruit in those who receive them with the required dispositions.”
While the sacraments in the Catholic Church are regarded as means of Divine Grace, The Catholic definition of a sacrament is an event in Christian life that is both spiritual and physical. The seven Catholic sacraments have been separated into three groups. The first three Sacraments of Initiation are Baptism, Communion, and Confirmation. The two Healing Sacraments are Anointing of the Sick and Penance. The two Sacraments of Vocation are Matrimony and Holy Orders.
The Church teaches that the effect of the sacraments comes ex opere operato, by the very fact of being administered, regardless of the personal holiness of the minister administering it. However, as indicated in this definition of the sacraments given by the Catechism of the Catholic Church, a recipient’s own lack of proper disposition to receive the grace conveyed can block a sacrament’s effectiveness in that person. The sacraments presuppose faith and, through their words and ritual elements, nourish, strengthen and give expression to faith.
Though not every individual has to receive every sacrament, the Church affirms that for believers the sacraments are necessary for salvation. Through each of them, Christ bestows that sacrament’s particular healing and transforming grace of the Holy Spirit, making them participants in the divine nature through union with Christ.
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A parish church (or parochial church) in Christianity is the church which acts as the religious centre of a parish. In many parts of the world, especially in rural areas, the parish church may play a significant role in community activities, often allowing its premises to be used for non-religious community events. The church building reflects this status, and there is considerable variety in the size and style of parish churches. Many villages in Europe have churches that date back to the Middle Ages, but all periods of architecture are represented.
In England and many British Overseas Territories and former British territories, the Church of England parish church is the basic administrative unit of episcopal churches. Nearly every part of England is designated as a parish (there being both ecclesiastic parishes and civil parishes, which overlie each other, but do not share names or boundaries, and hence an address may therefore fall into two parishes with different names), and most parishes have an Anglican parish church, which is consecrated. In the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda, the nine Church of England (since 1978, renamed the Anglican Church of Bermuda as an extra-provincial diocese of the Archbishop of Canterbury) parishes are identical with the civil parishes established following official settlement in 1612 (the archipelago having actually been settled since the 1607 wreck of the Sea Venture, with the first Church of England services in Bermuda performed by the Reverend Richard Buck, one of the survivors of the 1609 wreck). Whereas in England the ecclesiastic parishes generally bear the name of the Parish church, in Bermuda the parishes are named for shareholders of the London Company or its successor, the Company of the City of London for the Plantacion of The Somers Isles, with most of the Parish churches named for Saints, starting with St. Peter’s Church, established in 1612 in St. George’s Parish (the only parish named for a Saint) as the first Protestant church in the New World. If there is no parish church, the bishop licenses another building for worship, and may designate it as a parish centre of worship. This building is not consecrated, but is dedicated,[clarification needed] and for most legal purposes it is deemed to be a parish church. In areas of increasing secularisation or shifts in religious belief, centres of worship are becoming more common, and larger churches are sold due to their upkeep costs. Instead the church may use community centres or the facilities of a local church of another denomination.
Jesus formed his disciples by making known to them the various dimensions of the Kingdom of God…. Christ’s method of formation was accomplished by diverse yet inter-related tasks. His example is the most fruitful inspiration for effective catechesis today because it is integral to formation in the Christian faith.
Faith must be known , celebrated, lived and expressed in prayer. So catechesis comprises six fundamental tasks, each of which is related to an aspect of faith in Christ….
Faith formation* promotes knowledge of the faith.
The initial proclamation of the Gospel introduces hearers to Christ for the first time and invites conversion to him.
By the action of the Holy Spirit, such an encounter engenders in the hearers a desire to know about Christ, his life, and the content of his message.
Faith formation* responds to this desire by giving the believers a knowledge of the content of God’s self-revelation, which is found in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, and by introducing them to the meaning of the Creed.
Creeds and doctrinal formulas that state the Church’s belief are expressions of the Church’s living tradition, which from the time of the apostles has developed “in the Church with the help of the Holy Spirit.”
Faith formation* promotes knowledge of the meaning of the Liturgy and the Sacraments.
Since Christ is present in the sacraments, the believer comes to know Christ in the liturgical celebrations of the Church and is drawn into communion with him.
Christ’s saving action in the Paschal Mystery is celebrated in the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, where the closest communion with Jesus on earth is possible as Catholics are able to receive his living Flesh and his Precious Blood in Holy Communion.
Faith formation* should promote “an active, conscious, genuine participation in the liturgy of the Church, not merely by explaining the meaning of the ceremonies, but also by forming the minds of the faithful for prayer, for thanksgiving, for repentance, for praying with confidence, for a community spirit, and for understanding correctly the meaning of the Creeds.”
Sacramental catechesis prepares for the initial celebration of the sacraments and promotes enrichment following their reception.
Faith formation* promotes moral formation in Jesus Christ.
Jesus’ moral teaching is an integral part of his message. Faith formation* must transmit both the content of Christ’s moral teachings as well as their implications for Christian living.
Moral catechesis aims to conform the believer to Christ–to bring about personal transformation and conversion. It should encourage the faithful to give witnesses–both in their private lives and in the public arena–to Christ’s teaching in everyday life.
Such testimony demonstrates the social consequences of the demands of the Gospel.
Faith formation* teaches the Christian how to pray with Christ.
Conversion to Christ and communion with him lead the faithful to adopt his disposition of prayer and reflection.
Jesus’ entire life, death and Resurrection were an offering to to his Father. His prayer was always directed toward his Father.
Faith formation* should invite the believer to join Christ in the Our Father. Prayer should be the ordinary environment for all faith formation* so that the knowledge and practice of the Christian life may be understood and celebrated in its proper context.
Faith formation* prepares the Christian to live in community and to participate actively in the Life and mission of the Church.
…Faith formation* encourages an apprenticeship in Christian living that is based on Christ’s teachings about community life. It should encourage a spirit of simplicity and humility, a special concern for the poor, particular care for the alienated, a sense of fraternal correction, common prayer, mutual forgiveness, and a fraternal love that embraces all these attitudes.
Faith formation* encourages the disciples of Jesus to make their daily conduct a shining and convincing testimony to the Gospel….
Preparation for community life has a ecumenical dimension as well…. It should always provide a clear exposition of all that the Church teaches and at the same time should foster a “true desire for unity”…. Faith formation* will have an ecumenical dimension as it prepares the faithful to live in contact with persons of other Christian traditions, “affirming their Catholic identity while respecting the faith of others.”
Faith formation* promotes a missionary spirit that prepares the faithful to be present as Christians in society.
…Faith formation* seeks to help the disciples of Christ to be present in society precisely as believing Christians who are are able and willing to bear witness to their faith in words and deeds.
In fostering this spirit of evangelization, faith formation* nourishes the evangelical attitudes of Jesus Christ in the faithful: to be poor in spirit, to be compassionate, to be meek, to hear the cry of injustice, to be merciful, to be pure of heart, to make peace, and to accept rejection and persecution.
Faith formation* recognizes that other religious traditions reflect the “seeds of the Word” that can constitute a true “preparation for the Gospel.” It encourages adherents of the world’s religions to share what they hold in common, never minimizing the real differences between and among them….
These six tasks of faith formation* constitute a unified whole by which faith formation* seeks to achieve its objective: the formation of disciples of Jesus Christ. All these tasks are necessary in order to attain the full development of the Christian faith. Each task, from its own perspective, realizes the object of catechesis, and all the tasks are interdependent….
— United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. National Directory for Catechesis. 2005. #20.
How would you respond if a parishioner asked, “So what do you really mean by faith formation?”
I asked myself that question this week as I worked toward launching our new training program for congregational leaders: If we’re going to invite leaders to do what matters in their faith formation efforts, we need to be clear about what faith formation is, yes?
Problem is ‘faith formation’ has become a catch-all term that can mean just about anything a church or Christian community does—from the parish picnic, to Bingo nite, to team sports in the gym, to Sunday worship. It’s all faith formation, right?
Well, potentially yes, but there are some criteria that our programs and activities ought to meet in order to fall under the faith formation umbrella.
In a single line we could say faith formation is: equipping people to live as disciples of Jesus.
In his latest book, Generations Together, John Roberto reaffirms a traditional, but very rich notion that faith formation informs, forms, and transforms the person—whether child, youth, or adult—into a robust, vital, and life-giving Christian faith that is holistic: a way of the head, the heart, and the hands.
And faith formation does the very same for the Christian community as it immerses people into the particular practices and particular way of life that identifies them as followers of Jesus.
Roberto goes on to say, “While expressed in many different ways, faith formation seeks to help people:
Grow in their relationship with God for the whole of life
Live as disciples of Jesus at home, at work, in the community, and in the world
Develop an understanding of the Bible and their faith tradition
Deepen their spiritual life and practices
Engage in service and mission to the world
Participate in the life and ministries of their faith community”
So, faith formation may indeed occur at the parish picnic or on the gym floor, but it has little to do with eating hot dogs or sinking baskets, and whole lot to do with forming disciples.