The whole liturgical life of the Church revolves around the Eucharistic sacrifice and the sacraments. ‘Celebrated worthily in faith, the sacraments confer the grace they signify…because in them Christ himself is at work: it is he who baptizes, he who acts in his sacraments in order to communicate the grace that each sacrament signifies.’ (Catechism of the Catholic Church #1127) Even so, the fruits of the sacraments depend on the disposition of the one who receives them, which means that those who wish to do so should be properly prepared.
The door to life and to the kingdom of God, is the first sacrament of the New Law which Christ offered to all, that we might have eternal life.
This first sacrament pardons all our sins, rescues us from the power of darkness, and brings us to the dignity of God’s adopted children. It makes us members of Christ’s Body, the Church, and forms us into God’s people, a new creation through water and the Holy Spirit. So we are called, and are indeed, the children of God.
The Church encourages parents to see to it that their children are baptized with in the first few weeks. As soon as possible after the birth of their child, indeed even before it, parents living in Our Lady’s parish are invited to contact the Parish Priest to request the sacrament and to be themselves prepared for it. Those living in other parishes, and who regularly attend Our Lady’s, may also do so, with the permission of their own Parish Priest.
The period of preparation follows the Archdiocesan ‘With You Always’ Baptism resource, consisting of a series of three sessions led by parish catechists, after Sunday Mass. Further details will be given on application. The date of baptism will be arranged on completion of the preparation sessions.
In the celebration of Baptism, the part of godparents is, together with the parents, to profess the Church’s faith, in which the child is baptised. Those asked to be godparents must be qualified to do so:
i) they must have the capability and intention of carrying out the responsibility of a godparent, and be mature enough to do so;
ii) they must have received the three sacraments of initiation (Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist) and be living a life consistent with the faith and with the responsibility of a godparent;
iii) they must be members of the Catholic Church and be free to carry out this office.
At the request of parents, a baptised and believing Christian who is not a Catholic may act as a Christian witness along with a Catholic godparent.
Any adult who wishes to be baptized should contact the Parish Priest (see the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) below.
Through the Sacrament of Confirmation, the grace received in baptism is perfected and the gifts of the Holy Spirit are ‘sealed’ within us.
Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist together constitute the 'Sacraments of Initiation'. These gifts: knowledge, understanding, wisdom, right judgement, courage, reverence, and awe and wonder, help us to discern God’s will for us and give us what we need to live up to it in our daily lives.
Confirmation is normally conferred on students in Year 9 in High School, following a period of preparation. Adults who have not been confirmed may apply to the Parish Priest.
It is appropriate that the Sponsor chosen for Confirmation be one who undertook the role of God-parent at baptism or, if not, fulfils the same conditions as above.
The Eucharist is the ‘source and summit’ of the Church’s life and worship.
At the Last Supper, Jesus took bread and wine, gave thanks to God, blessed them, and gave them to his disciples, telling them to ‘do this in memory of me.’
In the Eucharist, we receive the Body and Blood of Christ, offered as a sacrifice on the Cross for the forgiveness of our sins. This Holy Communion expresses our unity with Christ and with the whole Church, nourishes us with his divine life, and promises us a share in the banquet feast of heaven.
The sacramental preparation for first Holy Communion follows the Family Catechesis approach of the ‘With You Always’ programme (link to www.withyoualways.co.uk) beginning in September of Year 4 in primary school. Parents of children not attending a Catholic school should contact the Parish Priest before the end of Year 3.
In order to be prepared to receive the sacraments, it is necessary for candidates and their parents to attend the preparation sessions and share in the celebration of Mass each week.
In the Gospels, Jesus not only forgave sinners, but also made plain the effects of that forgiveness – the reconciliation of sinners with the People of God.
His own power to forgive, Jesus gave to the Apostles and, hence, to the Church.
In the Sacrament of Reconciliation, those who, through their sin, have lost the grace of baptism, are called to a conversion of heart, and receive anew the Lord’s mercy and forgiveness.
The preparation for, and celebration of, this Sacrament will normally take place prior to the reception of the Sacraments of Confirmation and the Eucharist, either for adults or children. Anyone who has not done so is asked to contact the Parish Priest.
Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults(RCIA)
The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) is the normal means by which adults who have not already received baptism are welcomed into the Church.
It also serves as the means by which adults baptized into another Christian tradition, or baptized Catholics who did not complete their initiation, are received into full communion with the Catholic Church.
The RCIA gives enquirers the opportunity to hear the mystery of Christ proclaimed and reflect on it in their own lives, to deepen their understanding of the Church’s teaching, and to find support in the community of the local church. It provides for a period of formation, which usually starts in the autumn, and leads to the Rite of Election, at the beginning of Lent, and the reception of the sacraments at Easter, the highlight of the Christian year and the traditional time for initiating new Christians.
Meetings are held on a weekly basis and cover a variety of subjects relating to the Church’s faith and practice. For further information, please contact the Parish Priest.
Holy Scripture affirms that man and woman were created for one another.
"The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament" [CCC1601].
In his preaching Jesus taught the original meaning of the union of man and woman as the Creator willed it from the beginning. In Christian marriage a bond is created between the spouses which by its very nature is perpetual and exclusive, and so the spouses are strengthened and consecrated by a special sacrament so that they may assume the duties of marriage in mutual and lasting fidelity.
It is the norm for weddings to take place in the Church of the Catholic partner. Couples are invited to contact the Parish Priest to request to be married, and to be themselves prepared for it, where one of them is living in Our Lady’s parish. Those living in other parishes, and who regularly attend Our Lady’s, may also do so, with the permission of their own Parish Priest.
Weddings should normally be booked at least 12 months in advance, and confirmed 6 months prior to the date. Further information regarding marriage preparation and arranging the wedding ceremony will be given on application.
Anointing the Sick
In the Gospels, we see Christ’s preferential love for the sick
Throughout the centuries, Christ’s preferential love for the sick has been the source of tireless efforts on behalf of the faithful to comfort all those who suffer in body and soul.
‘If one of you is ill, he should send for the elders of the church, and they must anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord and pray over him. The prayer of faith will save the sick man and the Lord will raise him up again; and if he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven.’ (Jas 5:14)
The reception of the Anointing of the Sick should not be delayed until the person is close to death. Indeed, anyone suffering from a serious illness, infirmity through old age, or awaiting an operation should seek the sacrament at the earliest opportunity. They, or their family on their behalf, should contact the Parish Priest, who will arrange a visit.