The origin and foundation of Christian baptism is Jesus. Before starting his public ministry, Jesus submitted himself to the baptism given by John the Baptist. The waters did not purify him; he cleansed the waters. Jesus did not need to be baptized because he is the divine son of God and free from sin. However, he wanted to show his solidarity with mankind in order to reconcile them to the Father. By commanding his disciples to baptize all nations, he established the means by which people would die to sin – Original and actual – and begin to live a new life with God.
In Baptism, the Holy Spirit moves us to answer Christ's call to holiness. In Baptism, we are asked to walk by the light of Christ and to trust in his wisdom. We are invited to submit our hearts to Christ with ever deeper love.
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Not only does the Sacrament of Reconciliation (also referred to as Penance or Confession) free us from our sins, but it also challenges us to have the same kind of compassion and forgiveness for those who sin against us. We are liberated to be forgivers. We obtain new insight into the words of the Prayer of St. Francis: "It is in pardoning that we are pardoned."
Jesus entrusted the ministry of reconciliation to the Church. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is God's gift to us so that any sin committed after baptism can be forgiven. In confession we have the opportunity to repent and recover the grace of friendship with God. It is a holy moment in which we place ourselves in his presence and honestly acknowledge our sins, especially our mortal sins. With absolution, we are reconciled to God and the church. The Sacrament of Reconciliation helps us stay close to the truth that we cannot live without God. "In him we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28).
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The Eucharist in the Catholic Church is the sacrament referred to as "the source and summit" of the Christian life. The Eucharist is offered daily during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
By virtue of his ordination, a mere man is empowered by the Holy Spirit to turn ordinary bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ through the words of consecration - "This is my Body," "This is my Blood." This is what we call the Eucharist. The name of this amazing sacrament comes from the Greek word for "thanksgiving."
When we receive the Eucharist, our hearts should be overjoyed and filled with thanksgiving. For, the price that was paid for us to be able to feed on the Body and Blood of Jesus was nothing less than His excruciating Passion and Death. With that in mind, let us always approach the Eucharist with a deep sense of awe and reverence.
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The prophets of the Old Testament foretold that God's Spirit would rest upon the Messiah to sustain his mission. Their prophecy was fulfilled when Jesus the Messiah was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. The Holy Spirit descended on Jesus on the occasion of his baptism by John the Baptist. Jesus' entire mission was carried out in communion with the Holy Spirit. Before he died, Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would be given to the Apostles and to the entire Church. After his death, he was raised by the Father in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Confirmation deepens our baptismal life that calls us to be missionary witnesses of Jesus Christ in our families, neighborhoods, society, and the world. We receive the message of faith in a deeper and more intensive manner, with great emphasis given to the person of Jesus Christ, who asked the Father to give the Holy Spirit to the Church for building up the community in loving service.
For more information on the Sacrament of Confirmation, click here.
Sacred Scripture begins with the creation and union of man and woman, and ends with "the wedding feast of the Lamb" (Rev 19:7, 9). Scripture often refers to marriage, its origin and purpose, the meaning God gave to it, and its renewal in the covenant made by Jesus with his Church. Man and woman were created for each other.
By their marriage, the couple witness Christ's spousal love for the Church. One of the nuptial blessings in the liturgical celebration of marriage refers to this in saying, "Father, you have made the union of man and wife so holy a mystery that it symbolizes the marriage of Christ and his Church."
The Sacrament of Marriage is a covenant, which is more than a contract. Covenant always expresses a relationship between persons. The marriage covenant refers to the relationship between a husband and wife, an intimate union of persons capable of knowing and loving each other and God, with an openness to bringing for new life through the marital embrace. The celebration of marriage is also a liturgical act, appropriately held in a public liturgy at church. Catholics are urged to celebrate their marriage within the Eucharistic liturgy.
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From the moment of Jesus' conception in the womb of Mary until his Resurrection, he was filled with the Holy Spirit. In biblical language, he was anointed by the Holy Spirit and thus established by God the Father as our high priest. As Risen Lord, he remains our high priest. While all the baptized share in Christ's priesthood, the ministerial priesthood shares this in a special way through the Sacrament of Holy Orders.
Ordination to the priesthood is always a call and a gift from God. Christ reminded his Apostles that they needed to ask the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into the harvest. Those who seek priesthood respond generously to God's call using the words of the prophet, "Here I am, send me" (Is 6:8). This call from God can be recognized and understood from the daily signs that disclose his will to those in charge of discerning the vocation of the candidate.
Holy Orders - or, the ordained priesthood - is not a "job," a "profession," or a "career." It is a "vocation," which comes from the Latin word "vocare," which means "to call." A man is called to holy orders by God, and, by virtue of his ordination he receives an indelible mark on his soul, which conforms him to Jesus Christ in such a way that he can do what ultimately only God can do, namely, turn bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus, forgive others their sins, etc.
The Catholic Church has always held and taught that only baptized males may be admitted to holy orders. This in no way demeans the role of women in the ministry of the Church. The greatest disciple of Jesus in history was a woman, who also happened to be his mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. Rather, it affirms what Jesus intended when He ordained the first priests - his apostles - and bestowed upon them the amazing gift of living and ministering In Persona Christi, or, In the Person of Christ.
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ANOINTING OF THE SICK
In the Church's Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, through the ministry of the priest, it is Jesus who touches the sick to heal them from sin – and sometimes even from physical ailment. His cures were signs of the arrival of the Kingdom of God. The core message of his healing tells us of his plan to conquer sin and death by his dying and rising.
The Rite of Anointing tells us there is no need to wait until a person is at the point of death to receive the sacrament. A careful judgment about the serious nature of the illness is sufficient.
When the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick is given, the hoped-for effect is that, if it be God's will, the person be physically healed of illness. But even if there is no physical healing, the primary effect of the sacrament is a spiritual healing by which the sick person receives forgiveness for their sins, as well as the Holy Spirit's gift of peace and courage to deal with the difficulties that accompany serious illness or the frailty of old age.
For more information on the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, click here.